By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
A former member of the House of Representatives, Barr. Sunday Marshall Katung has submitted a proposal for the creation of Gurara State out of the present Kaduna State.
In a memo submitted to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Katung said the lacuna created by sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 constitution be amended to empower Federal legislators vote for creation of new states at a joint sitting.
According to him, the existing 36 States structure of Nigeria is a contraption of disproportionate entities.
“This arrangement belies any reference to equality between States in terms of size and power sharing. Nationalities such as the Southern Kaduna people of Kaduna State, with an estimated population of 5.1 million people, comprising 67 ethnic groups and inhabiting a landmass of about 26,000km2 , which landmass is greater than those of Kano (a State in the same North Western region as Kaduna, which has 20,131km2landmass); Sokoto State (25,973km2); Jigawa State (23,154km2), among many others,” he said.
“Despite this imbalance, the procedure for state creation in the Constitution (Section 8) is herculean and Section 9 tightens the bolt against an amendment of the utopian Section 8, making it possible only under a dictatorial (military)system. Hence, since 1999 till date, regardless of pressing necessities, no new State has been created. This is likely to cause a social implosion resulting from marginalization and other forms of social injustices,” he added.
Katung, who represented Zango Kataf/Jaba federal constituency between 2015-2019, explained that “the voting majority standard prescribed by Section 9 which refers to Sections 48 and 49 is a clog, considering the disproportionate compositions of Federal constituencies. Sections 9 & 49 naturally operates to arm a particular section of the country (bound by common interests) with unjust numerical strength to vote against proposals for state creation which it may perceive as a self-determination stride, a diminution of its power and strategic position, a function of a bloated, inflated population and size.”
The former lawmaker, therefore recommended an amendment of Section 9 to limit the voting benchmark to a simple majority of total votes cast by members present in a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and Senate, adding that there should be no deeming construction of the number of Members and Senators as is the case with the final part of Section 9(4).
He said an amendment of Section 8 should dictate that members who shall be required to vote in support of a request for state creation, need not be members representing the area demanding such state creation.
He also suggested to the constitutional amendment committee that “every member of the Legislative houses outlined in Section 8(a) (i) to (iii) ought to be allowed to vote for or against the request. Adding that “the list of States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, outlined in Section 3(1) be amended to include a new State for the people of Southern Kaduna, Gurara State.”
During the constitution review hearing at the state house, Kaduna recently,representatives of southern and northern Kaduna including members of National Assembly had agreed to create two new states from the present Kaduna State.
Speaking during the hearing about a memo earlier submitted to the constitution review committee, Jonathan Asake, president of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), said the people of southern Kaduna are demanding the creation of Gurara state from Kaduna.
On the part of northern Kaduna, Abdulkadir Ahmed, President of Kaduna Elders Initiative, defended the memo signed by Senators, Federal and State lawmakers from Kaduna north demanding for creation of a new State out of the present Kaduna State.
Ahmed said they demand the creation of “new Kaduna state”, which will include ”Kaduna north and central senatorial zones”, adding those asking for Gurara state should have it.
“We are canvassing for the creation of New Kaduna state from the present Kaduna state and we want the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria amended to make this possible,” he said.