By James Ugwu
The piece, entitled ‘Nigerian Economic Restructuring Bill 2021’, being circulated in the social media, has generated mixed reactions in the Southeastern part of the country, especially pertaining to the creation of additional states in Nigeria.
Its author, one Ayo Akinfe, had claimed that with the bill, Nigeria would have 42 states, with seven per geo-political zone. Akinfe inferred that Southeast would have Anioma, Orashi, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia, and Ebonyi states. According to him, each state will be responsible for creating and funding their respective local governments. Then federating units will control all the resources within their domains and remit 50% to the centre.
IT IS GOOD TO PUT THE RECORDS STRAIGHT, PARTICULARLY ON STATE CREATION IN SOUTHEAST:
Mr Akinfe and his cohorts might have deliberately downplayed the proposed Adada state for their covert reasons. State creation is not done arbitrarily the way the author posits. The federal government will first of all look for proposed states where the leaders are in agreement to avoid crisis. The FG would definitely take the provisions of Section 8 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution and Part 1 (1)(2) of the Creation of States and Boundary Adjustment (Procedure) Act, CAP, C37 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 into cognizance.
The latest request for the creation of Adada state was submitted to the National Assembly in 2020, and in absolute compliance with Section 8 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Nigeria as amended, and part 1 (I) (2) of the Creation of State and Boundary Adjustment (Procedure) Acts; CAP, C37 Laws of the Federation.
It is good to bring to public notice, FG inclusive, that the Southeast caucus of the National Assembly, on March 26th, 2006, under the leadership of then Senate president Ken Nnamani, inaugurated a ten-man committee headed by Chief Ifeanyi Ararume to look into state creation demands in the region. The meeting, hosted by former executive governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa, had in attendance former and serving senators, house of representatives, past and present governors, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and its state creation committee, promoters of various state creation demands, traditional rulers, religious leaders, etc.
The stakeholders’ meeting, in all sincerity, provided the platform for various state creation promoters to make presentations. Four state demands were presented: Adada, Orashi, Aba and Njaba. After the presentations, deliberations and consultations, the committee elected to vote to determine which of the demands to recommend to the SOUTHEAST CAUCUS as the most popular. The results of this exercise were Adada, 5; Orashi, 3; Aba, 2; and Njaba, 0. Since that decision, that same type of Igbo leaders have not sat again over state creation, hence the status quo remains.
So even if any credence should be accorded what Ayo wrote, the choice or choices of states to be created in the Southeast should be guided by the outcome of that stakeholders’ meeting held in Owerri, which is the creation of Adada state first, then Orashi. Again, if the FG designate Anioma a part of South East (which would be a welcome development) then it should be Adada and Anioma
Above all, the FG would be interested in equity, justice and fair play. They are aware that Southeast is divided into two: northern Igbo and southern Igbo. Southern Igbo has three states: Anambra, Imo and Abia while northern Igbo has only Enugu and Ebonyi. So creation of Adada state would balance the equation.
If we are to go by Ayo’s postulations, it therefore means that southern Igbo would have five states, with northern Igbo only two states, thus grossly short-changing the Northern Igbo
It is worthy of note that the components of the proposed Adada state are homogenously compact. It is also as viable as Bayelsa State. Adada has the highest commercial quantity of gas deposits in Africa located at Ikem, Eha-Amufu, Eha-Alumona down to Uzo-Uwani. We also have oil. No matter how the fate of oil dwindles due to solar energy, gas remains potentially valued. We have huge coal deposits. Adada also has solid minerals, like limestone, salt, sands for glass making, and clay for pottery and ceramics. Its agro-potentials are massive, with large expanse of arable lands, and waters. Let’s not forget that the Ada Rice Project and the former World Bank rice project at Adani in Uzo-Uwani LGA are in the proposed state. We also have rice, yam, cassava, maize and beans in commercial quantities. We also have palm produce, kola nuts, ogbono, ogri, ose Nsukka (which has gone international), as well as gateway markets.
In area of human resources, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is located at the proposed state. There is also the Udenu campus of Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo. In the tourism sector, we have lakes, waterfalls in Udenu, Igbo-Etiti and Igboeze South LGAs. We have hills and valleys.
Generally, Adada is the foremost choice in the Southeast, hence it should be in the forefront when it comes to state creation in Southeast and Nigeria.
James Ugwu is the PRO of the Movement for the Creation of Adada State.