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June 19, 2024

Concerning Anioma state creation, by Ochereome Nnanna

Concerning Anioma state creation, by Ochereome Nnanna

Ochereome Nnanna

I remember during the 2023 campaigns when some Northerners asked Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to unfold his agenda. He bluntly declined, arguing that doing so could put him in danger. Despite this rather tactless answer, the North still played the leading role in getting him “elected”.

One year down the line, we are seeing things that suggest (without confirming) President Tinubu may be quietly unfolding a “true federalism” original agenda of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which he soldiered for in the fight for the end of military rule in the 1990s. Throughout his partnership with Muhammadu Buhari, he had completely seemed aloof to that agenda. Could it be he is now ready to champion it?

When the swift move to restore our colonial-era National Anthem was going on in the National Assembly, I knew the president was behind it. Nothing moves that fast in the NASS except it is a presidential initiative or members’ own welfare packages. Surely enough, Tinubu owned up to being the mastermind for the restoration of that anachronism. But it could well have been the testing of the waters for the bigger things to come.

We have seen other moves. A bill to amend the Constitution to return Nigeria to regional federalism has surfaced. It is credibly believed the president might be behind it. A six-year single tenure is also on the table. Suddenly, a member of the House of Representatives, Ikenga Ugochinyere, started championing the creation of an “Orlu State” out of the current Imo, Abia, Ebonyi and Anambra states. Orlu State?

Not to be outdone, Ned Nwoko, the Senator representing Delta North, tabled a request for the actualisation of the almost 90-year-old aspiration for the creation of Anioma State. Since then, a big debate has been going on. Overwhelming Igbo opinion is in favour of Nwoko’s idea of creating Anioma as the sixth state of the South-East zone. For the first time ever, Igbo people from both sides of the Niger River are rooting for this instead of Orlu State. Some are even asking for the Igbo people of Igbanke and other communities in Edo State to be brought into Anioma to end their community’s historical stigma as the “slave camp” in Edo State.

Now, let me say this. The creation of a sixth state for the South-East should not trigger another round of requests for new states. It is a separate item from the usual requests for creation of new states. A sixth state for the South-East is an unfinished work of equitable nation-building. Every other geopolitical zone has six states, with the North-West having seven. A sixth state for the South-East will essentially balance the scales. It will also increase the size of the South-East in landmass and population. More importantly, it will be a giant step in the proper re-mainstreaming of the Igbo nation within the Nigerian Federation, a job that should have been done long ago.

The sixth state would have been created by national consensus in 2006 if President Olusegun Obasanjo had not inserted his tenure elongation agenda, which led to the wholesale rejection of the Constitution amendment process. We must reactivate the already agreed national consensus and give the Igbo people their rightful place through the creation of Anioma State as part of the South-East geopolitical zone.

In my view, the geopolitical zones should be converted to regions with the existing states as semiautonomous provinces. Our 36-state system has failed. It is configured for consumption, not production. The regions were better configured for production, as our First Republic experience showed. No region was backward, as all competed to be ahead of the rest. It will also help eliminate our security threats because the regions will act as grand coalitions against the armed occupiers of our forests and farmlands.

However, I will really be pleasantly surprised if Nigerians allow this request to see the light of day. Unlike the creation of states which required a military head of state splitting the country to satisfy the whims of the ethnic coalition that won the Nigerian Civil War, creation of Anioma State will require a constitution amendment.

It will need the support of the rest of the states. With the atmosphere of hatred, conspiracy and wickedness which we see on the social media every day, I am not encouraged. But I believe that if the president wants it to go through, he can persuade other stakeholders to do the right thing in the overwhelming interest of national cohesion.

We wait.

Osimhen’s outburst at Finidi

I did not support Finidi George’s appointment as Super Eagles Head Coach. I was in favour of Emmanuel Amuneke, a former African Footballer of the Year, or Nduka Ugbade, a national football icon and tested coach. But once Finidi was announced, I prayed for his success. My fears came true. After two matches, he endangered our chances of qualifying for the next World Cup.

But that is no reason for Victor Osimhen to talk rot at Finidi in a viral video. He could have told his side of the story with civility. Instead, he showed the world that he lacked home training. Yes, it has nothing to do with ghetto or Ajegunle where he was born. Was Odion Ighalo or Daddy Showkey not born and brought up there?

As the reigning African Footballer of the Year, Osimhen failed to realise that life has promoted him to a level where millions of other youths look up to him for inspiration. How many times has he seen Ronaldo, Messi, Salah, Okocha, Kanu, Ikpeba and other bigger stars talking “like Portable” as someone has put it? Finidi still colossally towers above him in Nigerian football.

He must apologise profusely or be banned!