|Wednesday, August 16, 2023|
xpectedly, the deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jibrin and the deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Okezie Kalu (52), are to be appointed Chairmen of Committees for the amendment of the Constitution whose objectives among others, include creation of more states. That is another financial jamboree in the making.
Between 1979 and 1983, and since 1999, the legitimate procedure by the National Assembly, to take money out of the treasury has been under the pretext that new states will be created. And we have watched in our docility the actions of the members of the National Assembly on this issue.
If we are to calculate the money spent by the National Assembly since 1999 to date on Amending the Constitution especially on the issue of creation of more states, the money is enough to tar the dilapidated roads in Nigeria. And yet we keep spending this money inspite of our lean resources. I am not against the amendment of the Constitution but I am advocating for the reduction in the cost of governance. There is no alternative to the amendment of the Constitution if we are to have good governance in Nigeria. Since the present Constitution we have is defective, we have to amend it often and often. Our 1999 Constitution must be one of the few constitutions in the world that did not pass through a referendum or plebiscite.
If I may ask what has happened to the reports prepared by the former deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu(1947-2021) or Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who served as deputy Senate President between 5 June 2007 to 9 June 2019 or Senator Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege(60), who served between 11 June 2019 to June 11 this year, on the amendment of the Constitution.
If I may also ask, what of the reports on the amendments of the constitution prepared by Prince Chibudum Nwuche (61), who served between 1999-2003 as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives or Chief Austin Adiele Opara, who served between 2003 to 2007, Babangida Saidu Nguroje(2007-2011), Chukwuemeka Ikem Ihedioha(6 June 2011 - 6 June 2015), Alhaji Usman Bayero Nafada, Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun (9 June 2015-9 June 2019) and Ahmed Idris Wase, from 2019 to this year.
There is nothing stopping Chief Benjamin Okezie Kalu and Senator Barau Jibrin from adopting some of the recommendations of their predecessors, especially the ones that are useful instead of wasting money touring the whole country or hiring consultants with a view to amending the Constitution.
As for the creation of states as contained in the Constitution, the truth is that the ARMY, that handed to us the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions, do not want new states to be created and that is why except the Mid Western region which was created by civilians in 1963, no new state has so far being created by the civilian government. If you look at section 8 of the 1979 Constitution and Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution, they are the same. The two sections were smuggled into the Constitution by the military. The Constituent Assembly that served between 1977 and 1978 did not discuss section 8 of the 1979 Constitution. In short it was a military decree.
Section 8 of the 1979 Constitution states that "An act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if --- (a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely---(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives, (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; (b) a proposal for the creation of the State is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated; (c) the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly; and (d) the proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of each House of Assembly. (2) An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of boundary adjustment of any existing State shall only passed if--- (a) a request for the boundary adjustment, supported by two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the boundary adjustment) in each of the following, namely--- (i) the Senate and the House of Representatives, (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; and (b) a proposed for the boundary adjustment is approved by-(i) a simple majority of members of each House of the National Assembly, and (ii) a simple majority of members of the House of Assembly in respect of the area concerned".
Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution states that (1) "An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if-(a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely -(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives, (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; (b) a proposal for the creation of the State is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated; (c) the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly; and (d) the proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of each House of the National Assembly.
You will discover the similarities between Section 8 of the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions. So far, these are the two Constitutions we have operated in our Presidential System between 1979 to 1983 and since 1999 to date. I covered the Constitution Drafting Committee proceedings and also the proceeding of the Constituent Assembly, the issue of creation of more states was never discussed at the Constitution Drafting Committee.
Of the fifty members of the Constitution Drafting Committee, I think only four of them are still alive. They are Alhaji Lateef Olufemi Okunnu(90), Professor Benjamin Obi Nwabueze (91), Alhaji Mamman Daura(83) and Professor Godwin Anibeze Odenigwe(97). They are my living witnesses.
While inaugurating the Constituent Assembly on October 6, 1977, the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, warned that the no go areas which the Assembly must not discuss include the composition of the Supreme Military Council and the creation of states.
He declared on that day "I believe also that valuable time will be saved by sticking to your "Term of Reference" as closely as possible. May I emphasise that the purpose of your being here is to discuss the draft Constitution already produced by the Constitution Drafting Committee and to come out with your recommendations. These will then be taken to the Supreme Military Council. Thereafter, a Decree on the subject of Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be considered and promulgated to usher in the new Constitution.
Your time here is therefore precious and should be described to this all important subject. All diversion from it of the consideration of extraneous matters which are not the subject for discussion by the Constituent Assembly should be avoided. The Electoral Regulations Decree which will govern the conduct of the first elections before the departure of the Military Administrations will be promulgated by the Supreme Military Council and will be placed before the Constituent Assembly for consideration as a schedule to the Constitution for use in post Military Administration elections".
On November 1, 1977, while presenting the bill for the new Constitution, the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams SAN (16 December 1920 - 26 March 2005) spoke on the promulgation of the new Constitution, foundation of the Constitution, the Federal Sharia Court of Appeal and many other issues. He did not touch the issue of creation of states. Same with the chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Mr. Justice Egbat Udo Udoma (21 June 1917 - 2 February 1998). Yet by curiosity, Section 8 was smuggled into the 1979 Constitution by the ARMY.
What happened on the last two days of the sitting of Constituent Assembly, that is on June 1, 1978 and on Monday, June 5, 1978, was that some members of the Assembly, wanted their states to be created so that it could form part of the bill which was mandatory for the Supreme Council to approve. The Chairman of the Assembly, Mr. Justice Egbert Udo Udoma objected to the procedure along with some members including Mr G.A. Graham Douglas. The members who wanted the states were Chief G. Ajeigbe, who wanted Ibadan state, Chief Bisi Onabanjo, who wanted Ijebu state with Remo inclusive, Dr. Joseph Wayas, who wanted Ogoja state, in the present Cross River state, Chief S.O. Apetuje, Chief S.F. Fajobi and G.A. Falaye, who wanted Ekiti state, Alhaji S. Z. Daura who wanted Katsina state among others, Chief C.C. Onoh who wanted Wawa state which is the present Enugu state.
In his ruling on June 1, 1978, the chairman of the Assembly, Justice Udo Udoma ruled that "all the Amendments to Section 3 of the Bill, crystallising as they do and falling in reality into the category of proposals for the creation of new states, must be considered in my view, in their widest perspective. For the purpose of the ruling, consideration must rest on two main prongs.
Firstly, the matter falls squarely within the ambit of the overall policy of the Federal Military embracing as it does its well-scheduled and articulated programme to return the country to civil rule in 1979. That the programme has been prompted by the highest of motives and the spirit of rare patriotism cannot be denied. That it has received the unsolicited approval and support of the overwhelming majority of patriotic Nigerians cannot be contradicted. The rigidity and speed with which the policy has been pursued despite detractions has marked out our present military leaders as men endowed with inflexible determination. Any attempt to frustrate such a programme, in my view, would be counterproductive, and may be considered unpatriotic in the extreme.
Secondly, and this is perhaps more important having regard to the powers of this Assembly, there is the legal aspect of the matter. As was pointed out years ago by the Dicey in his Studies of the American Constitution, the by-product of Federalism is inescapably legalism. There is therefore the question of the competence in law of the Assembly to deal with these amendments bearing in mind the principle of ultra vires.
Section 3 of the Bill stipulates that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall consist of 19 states therein named. The territorial area encompassed by each such State is also precisely defined in the First Schedule to the Bill. The 19 States were created long before this Assembly was set up. In particular seven of them were created after due and proper inquiry; and indeed it was for the governance of the Federation and the 19 States that the constitutional proposals under deliberation by the House were designed.
Many honourable Members do not accept nor are they satisfied with the provision of Section 3 of the Bill. They have therefore put forward various amendments all of which proposed brand new states to be thereto added. In this way the number of states which should subsist and constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the coming into operation of the new Constitution in 1979 or six months thereafter would be far in excess of the present 19 states.
Among some of the new States proposed mention may be made of Katsina, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kogi, Port Harcourt, Anioma, Qua-Iboe, etc. Indeed, one amendment has made bold to propose 31 new States, which makes one wonder the seriousness with which these proposal have been submitted to this House.
If all these proposals were accepted, voted upon and passed into law, the Assembly would then be writing into the Constitution roughly over 40 new States not yet created. Such a provision in the Constitution, without doubt, would of course be meaningless and unintelligible and would make nonsense of the whole of the Constitutional exercise.
This is a difficult matter of considerable historical importance which cannot be dismissed summarily. Realising the sensitive nature of the matter and the depth of feelings of some honourable members on the issue of the creation of new states, I felt impelled to allow the debate on the matter to be opened. In the ordinary course of events I should have refused the Amendments to be listed, and, if listed, to have them struck off as not only out of order but disorderly. The debate has been interesting but somewhat noisy. Members have conducted them with decorum and restraint.
Honourable Members without dubiety appreciate that the creation of state is a matter of high governmental policy, which at once involves and calls into play two important arms of government, namely, the Legislature and the Executive. In the present circumstances, this Assembly is a legislature of a specialised kind with very restricted powers. It lacks executive authority. At present executive authority is vested in the Federal Military Government which, incidentally, also functions as the legislature".
Since the Assembly has no executive authority, if the House should write into the Constitution a decision to create new states, it would in effect be interpreted as a command directed to the Federal Military Government to create the states before handing over power to civilian government. The result of such a course of action would surely lead to a direct confrontation with the Federal Military Government having regard to its policy. Such a course of action is undesirable. The Federal Military Government has committed itself to a decision never to create any new state before handing over power in 1979. That decision, it seems to me, is irrevocable. It is rigid and compels respect. It is only right that this Assembly should respect that decision especially as it was made long before the Assembly was set up.
It is common knowledge that the Federal Military Government has resolved firmly to push forward with its programme towards handing over power and nothing would deflect it from that course of action. It is my duty to advise the House to desist from any course of action likely to result in a direct confrontation with the Federal Military Government in the interest of progress, peace and stability before transfer of power, which would restore to our country in the eyes of the world its self-respect as a giant democracy and potential world power.
Then, there is the legal aspect of these Amendments. As honourable members know, the Assembly was set up for a specific purpose. It is governed and regulated by both the Decree No. 50 of 1977 and the Standing Orders made there-under. Under the Decree and the Standing Orders, this Assembly is empowered to deliberate upon the Bill and enact the same into law. In exercise of its power, the Assembly under Section 100 of the Constitution has made adequate provisions for the creation of new States. When those provisions were evolved, there was no reservation which would now entitle the Assembly to venture into the field of the creation of new states. It should be observed that the boundaries of some of these states remain nebulous and undefined so that it would be impossible to even determine their physical features and location.
It is my considered view that the present proposals for the creation of new states are inconsistent with the provisions of Section 100 of the Constitution. It is also my considered view that the under the Decree establishing this Assembly, this House has no legal power to create new states. Indeed, the Assembly would be acting ultra vires its power to do so: and both the Federal Military Government and any incoming Governments would be entitled to treat any state so created by mere resolution with contempt.
These proposed Amendments have nothing to commend themselves. They are disorderly. They have all been brought under the wrong section of the Bill, the appropriate section which deals with the creation of new states being Section 100. The amendments are therefore struck out as disorderly".
At the resumed seating of the Assembly on June 5, Monday, there was pandemonium. Justice Udo Udoma was forced to adjourn the Assembly, sine die. The Assembly did not sit again.
When the Constitution was announced by the military, a few months later, section 8 which was never discussed or adopted by the Constituent Assembly formed part of the Constitution.
Of the 242 members, including nominated members, I think only 4 are still around today. Chief Bisi Akande, Mr. Mvenda Jibo, Senator Iya Abubakar and Chief Abiola Ogundokun are still around. They are living witnesses.
The hurdles for the creation of more states as contained in the Constitution are too high to be cleared.
From October 1, 1979 to December 31, 1983 before the Military overthrew President Shehu Shagari GCFR (25 February 1925 - 28 December 2018) and suspended the Constitution, no other issue generated more heat in the National Assembly than the issue of creation of more states. Even the Chairman of the National Assembly at that time, Dr. Joseph Wayas (21 May 1941 - 30 November 2021), who was also the Senate President, could not use his position to create Ogoja state for himself.
The twelve states structure was created by General Yakubu Gowon GCFR through Decree of May 27, 1967.
In his speech while creating the states, General Gowon declared "To this end, therefore, I am promulgating a decree which will divide the Federal Republic of Nigeria into 12 states.
The 12 states will be six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Easter Region, the Mid-West will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the Western Region and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western Region will otherwise remain as it is.
I must emphasise at once that the decree will provide for a state Delimitation Commission which will ensure that any division or towns not satisfied with the states in which they are initially grouped will obtained redress. But in this moment of serious national emergency, the co-operation of all concerned is absolutely essential in order to avoid any unpleasant consequences.
I wish also to emphasise that an Administrative Council will be established at the capitals of the existing Regions which will be available to the new states to ensure the smoothest possible administrative transition in the establishment of the new states.
The states will be free to adopt any particular names they choose in the future. The immediate administrative arrangements for the new states have been planned and the names of the Military Governors already announced.
The allocation of federally collected revenue to the new states on an interim basis for the first few months has also been planned. The successor states in each former region will share the revenue of that region in the equitable basis of their population until a more permanent formula is recommended by the new Revenue Allocation Commission. Suitable arrangements have been made to minimize any disruption in the normal functioning of services in the areas of the new states".
On December 13 1995, General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943 - 8 June 1998) inaugurated a committee on the creation of states, local government and boundary adjustments. It was the last exercise done to create new states and new local governments in the country. The committee was headed by Chief Arthur Christopher Izuegbu-Mbanefo (93). The secretary of the committee was Dr. Adamu Fika, former Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission.
The committee is similar to the one inaugurated on August 7 1975 by General Murtala Ramat Mohammed GCFR (8 November 1938-13 February 1976).
That one was headed by a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Ayo Gabriel Irekefe GCON (3 March 1922 - 1 August 1996).
The committee was given four specific terms of reference to advise on the delimitation of such states; advise on economic viability of the proposed states, advise on the location of administrative capitals of the proposed states; and, to receive and examine written representations from individuals, groups, organizations or associations who may have views on the desirability or otherwise of creating states in particular areas.
Justice Ayo Irekefe was born in Ikorodu on March 3, 1922. He attended Church Missionary Society Anglican School, Okitipupa, 1929-1930, St. John's Catholic School, Okitipupa, 1930-1931, St. Matthew's Catholic School, Ode-Ondo, 1932-1936, St. Gregory's College, Obalende, Lagos, 1937-1941, College of Marine Engineering and Telecommunications, Manchester, England, 1945-1946, Council of Legal Education, London, 1949-1952, called to the Bar, Middle Temple, London, 1952, enrolled solicitor and advocate, Supreme Court of Nigeria, 1952; in legal practice, Warri, 1952-1955, crown counsel, Western Region, 1955, later returned to private legal practice, until 1966, attorney-general, Mid-Western Nigeria, 1971, judge, Supreme Court of Nigeria, 1975, later Chief Judge of Nigeria, 1986-1987; chairman, Warri Bar, chairman, Robbery and Firearms Tribunal, Mid -Western State, 1972, chairman, Crude Oil Sales Tribunal, 1981.
Other members of the committee were Professor A.D. Yahaya, A former Head of Department of Political Science and International Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar (4 April 1933 - 9 October 2013) (Walin Langtang), governor of Plateau State between 1979-1983 and pioneer Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party in 1999, Brigadier Godwin Alley, former brigade Commander of Ikeja Cantonment, who was the boss of Major General Shehu Usman Yar'adua GCON (5 March 1943 - 8 December 1997) and also the boss to my friend, Colonel Lawan Gwadabe(rtd), former military governor of Niger State, who served as his ADC.
The other member of the committee was Mr C. Audifferen. The secretary of the committee was Dr. Patrick Dele Cole (83) from Abonnema in Rivers State. Dr. Cole attended St. Bartholomew's School, Enugu, Baptist High School, Port Harcourt, 1954-1958, Ibadan Grammar School, 1959-1960, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1962-1965, Free University of Amsterdam, Holland, 1966, University of Cambridge, England, 1966-1969; visiting Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, 1969-1973, also a fellow, King's College, Cambridge, England, 1970-1973, administrative officer, Political Division, Cabinet Office, 1973-1976, Managing Director, Daily Times of Nigeria, 1976-1980, ambassador to Brazil, 1987-1981; Secretary creation of states panel, 1975-1976, coordinator, Local Government Reforms, 1975-1976, member, Presidential Panel on History of Nigeria since Independence, member, Commonwealth Press Union and member, International Press Institute.
After the submission of Justice Irekefe's report, General Murtala Mohammed GCFR created nineteen states out of the twelve states created by General Yakubu Gowon GCFR in May 1967.
On assumption to power in 1995, General Ibrahim Babangida GCFR created Katsina and Akwa Ibom states on 23 September 1987 and later increased the number of states to thirty in 1991.
General Sani Abacha met thirty states structure before inaugurating Chief Mbanefo's committee. After inauguration, Chief Mbanefo set January 19, 1996 as the deadline for the submission of memoranda; thereby his committee received two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine memoranda and two hundred and eighty boundary requests. The members of the committee were Mrs Adefemi Abeke Taire nee Williams, former Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Chief Kunle Oluwasanmi, from Ipetu Ijesha in Osun state.
On December 16 1997, General Sani Abacha GCFR appointed Chief Oluwasanmi, a former Custom Officer to replace Prof. Iyawose Hagher as minister of State for Power and Steel. The other members also include Mr. El- Nathan from Adamawa State, Alhaji Kofar Katsina, Chief Audu Ogbeh former Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Kufobai, Obong Umana O. Umana, General Peter Ademokhai (rtd.), former General officer Commanding First Mechanised Division Kaduna.
Mr Seyi Olowokere from Ilesha in Osun state, who retired recently as Director,Media, Federal Ministry of Labour was attached to the committee as Press officer while Professor Tunji Olaopa, now of the Nigeria Institute of Strategic Studies, Kuru, near Jos, was the head of the Secretariat.
Professor Olaopa who was appointed Permanent Secretary in December 2010, grew up in the school of thought of Professor Ojetunji Aboyade and Chief Simeon Adebo. A quintessential public servant, his latest book, THE UNENDING QUEST FOR REFORM- An intellectual Memoir, is a good read.
Chief Arthur Mbanefo was born on June 11, 1930, in Onitsha, Anambra State. He attended Government School, Ogwashi-Uku, 1937-1939, St. Mary's School, Port Harcourt, 1940-1941, Christ the King School, Aba, 1942, Practicing School, Uyo, 1943-1944, Government School, Afikpo, 1944-1945, St. Benedict's School, Ogoja, 1946, St Patrick's School, Calabar, 1947-1953, Accountancy Studies, England, 1962, Centre for Applied Management and Technology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA, 1965-1966; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, former Republic of Biafra, 1968-1970, became partner, Akintola Williams and Company, April 1965, also Managing Director, AW Consultants Limited, 1973, Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, July 1986; fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; member, Nigeria Institute of Management. He later became Nigeria's ambassador to the United Nations.
After the submission of Mbanefo's report, six new states were created, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarrawa and Zamfara states, making the total number of states in the Federation to be thirty-six.
Namely, Agege, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Alimosho, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Eti-Osa, Ibeju/Lekki, Ifako-Ijaye, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Kosofe, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Mushin, Ojo, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu and Surulere.
In 1979, there were 20 local governments in Kano state. Namely, Kano (Metropolitan), Dambatta, Ringim, Minjibir, Gezawa, Bichi, Dawakin-Tofa, Gwarzo, Tudun-Wada, Rano, Wudil, Dawakin-Kudu, Dutse, Jahun, Birnin-Kudu, Gaya, Hadejia, Keffin-Huasa, Gumel and Kazaure.
Now Jigawa state has been created out of the old Kano state. If we are to add the local governments in Jigawa with the local governments in the present Kano state, then the old Kano state that had 20 local governments in 1979, now has 71 local governments. Because Jigawa state has 27 local governments and Kano has 44 local governments. That is a clear case of imbalance imposed by the military. And it was imposed because the military rulers that had created states in the country so far are all from one section of the country. And that is the imbalance we are going to live with.
Since new states will not be created, it will sheer waste of energy and time for the National Assembly to continue to spend money on the pretext of amending the constitution to create more states and local governments.
Don't let us deceive ourselves, new states will not be created.
As per creation of new local governments, state governments can copy the example of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he was the Governor of Lagos state. He created 57 LCDA from the 22 local contained in the 1999 Constitution. The arrangement has worked since 1999 because Chief Tinubu's party has been in power since then. If another party comes to power in Lagos, that arrangement may not work.
The present 36 states structure in Nigeria and the 774 local governments structure in the country is a military legacy.