Delegates at the ongoing National Conference were sharply divided yesterday, over agitation for creation of more states in the country.
The delegates, while considering the report of the Conference Committee on
Political Restructuring and Forms of Government, agreed that there was the need for the country to create more states contrary to the committee’s recommendation that only one state in the South East was necessary.
Some argued that it was inappropriate for the committee to have recommended the creation a single state for the South-East geo-political zone without considering others.
The committee, during its sittings, had received requests for creation of 22 states, cutting across the various geo-political zones.
But the committee, while drawing its conclusion, recommended that “there shall be created an additional state for the South-East zone and that all other requests for state creation should be considered on merit”, just as it said criteria for the creation of states should be based on economic viability.
Such states, according to the committee must also have human, natural and material resources besides having minimum land mass.
The committee equally said the proposed states to be approved, must have cultural and historical antecedents, with strong cultural affinity amongst the population of the new states with a minimum population of one million people.
But while contributing to the debate on the committee’s report,former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and delegate representing the party,Senator Ahmadu Ali,wondered how the committee came up with its recommendation of a single state for the South East.
“I don’t know what criterion was used in awarding a state for the south-East state. All of us must go and fight to state creation. I said it before that the old eastern region has 11 states.
“I believe that states that wish to merge should merge. Regionalism is retrogressive. The zone we also talk about is a dangerous precedent and is not constitutional. There is an attempt to smuggle it not the report of the Conference,”he said.
Another delegate of the party, Chief Olabode George, while speaking, appealed to the conference to approve the creation of Isale Eko State out of present Lagos State.
But Festus Okoye, Sergeant Awuse and former Senate President,Ken Nnamani hailed all those who have supported the creation of an additional state for the South-East.
Former governor of Osun State,Chief Segun Osoba, while also speaking faulted the creation of more local government areas in Kano State than Lagos State, which he noted,was more populous.
“Local government should be taken out of the Constitution. A state like Lagos with over 12million people and must 20 local government is unjustified. Therefore, states should be allowed to create their local governments,”he said.
On her part, a former Minister of Industry, Chief Nike Akande, solicited for the creation of a state from the present Oyo State.
“In this regard, I propose the split of Oyo State into two, which are Ibadan State and the rest. Oyo State has a landmass of about 28,245.26km square. It is one of the most urbanized in the country.
“In the 2006 census, the state has a population of about 5.58million ranking in the fifth most populated among the 36 states federation.
“The splitting is justifiable, expedient and necessary given the position of the state. The proposed state meets the generally accepted criteria for state creation including population, viability, historian considerations, culture affinity and contiguity.
“Creation of another state from Oyo State would ensure social and economic development of the states. ”
But in his contribution, Mr. Lawrence Ikpeazu, opposed the proposal for creation of states insisting that there was no basis for comparing the country with America.
He said United States of America had a few states at the beginning but that some of the states that joined the union came with their land, people and resources.
“We should not be asking for the cake when we have not contributed to the baking of the cake,”he said just as he added that local government creation should not be thrown to the state to avoid abuse of the process.
A delegate from Zamfara State,Belo Aliyu, while also speaking suggested that there should be no short cut to creation of new states in the country, insisting that those at the forefront of state creation should be made to follow the laid down criteria.