Anioma, the bias and imbalance in creation of states

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BY ERIC TENIOLA

Uba Group

If the bar on creation of new states, as contained in our 1979 and 1999 Presidential Constitutions had been lowered, Anioma could have become a state by now. And not part of Delta state. Likewise Ijebu, Ijesha, Okun which comprises of Mopa, Ogidi, Ayetoro Gbede, Okedayo, Odo Ere, Ife, Egbe, Iyara, Iyamoye, Odoape, Ekinrin-Adde, Kabba, Isanlu, Obajana, Ikoyi, Agbaja, as well as other states, could have been created, by now.

Anioma means “Good Land” in the Igbo language.

Mineral resources identified in Anioma include large deposit of gas at Okpai and Ndokwa.

Dominant industry in Anioma is education, hence the first teachers training institute in Western Region of which the Anioma nation was part of was in Ibusa in today’s Oshimili North local government area. If it had been created, Anioma could have become the sixth Igbo state.

Major towns and villages include Asaba, Agbor, Kwale, Oligbo, Ibrode, Ibusa, gbanke, Igbodo, Igbuku, Illah, Isa-Ogwashi, Iselegu, Isheagu, Isikiti-Ishiagu, Issele-Azagba, Issele-Mkpitime, Issele-Uku, Isumpe, Kwale, Mbiri, Ndemiri, Ndokwa, Abbi, Inam-Abbi, Eziunm, Nkpolenyi, Nsukwa, Obeti, Obi Anyima, Obi Umutu, Obi, Obiaruku, Obikwele, Obinumba, Obior, Obodo-Eti, Obomkpa, Ogbe, Ogode, Ogume, Ogwashi-Uku, Oko Anala, Oko/Ogbele, Oko-Amakom, Okotomi, Okpa, Okpanam, Okwe, Oligbo, Oligbo, Olor-Usisa, Olu-Odu, Omaja, Onicha Olona, etc.

Outstanding men and women like Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu (26 February 1937- 29 July 1967), Chief Dennis Chukude Osadebay (29 June 1911 — 26 December 1994), Chief Ogoegbuname Idise Dafe (1928 to 1981), Chief Jim Ovia(70), Chief Nduka Obaigbena (63), Chief Tony Elumelu, Nduka Irabor, General Alaba Isama (rtd.), Mitchell Obi, Nduka Otionu, Ambassador Joe Keshi, Chris Okolie, General Fred Chijuka(rtd.), Colonel Trimnel, Major Okonkwo, Chief Sunny Odogwu, Nduka Eze, Godwin Emefiele, Colonel Igboba, Professor Fideli Odia, Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie, Bode Bernard, Admiral Dele Ezeoba, Ambassador Ralph Uwechei, Dame Winnie Akpani, Dr. Austin Izagbo, Epipany Azinge(SAN), Frank Nwachukwu Ndili, Ike Nwamu, Emma Nyra Joseph Udeh, Maryam Babangida, General Lucky Irabor, Alex Iwobi, Professor Joseph Chike Edozien, Professor Patrick Utomi, Zulu Sofola, Sam Obi, Austine “Jay-Jay”Okocha, Nduka Odizor, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lisa Omorodion, Ned Nwoko, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Demas Nwoko, Faze, Chief Phillip Asiodu, Emmanuel Ibe Kachukwu, Joseph “Hannibal” Achuzie, Sunday Oliseh, Ifeanyi Okowa, Joy Ogwu and others too numerous to mention, are all from Anioma.

The struggle for the creation of Anioma state started a long time ago but it became more vocal in 1980. And men like Senator Nosike Ikpo (1933-2021) championed the cause for the creation of Anioma state. At that time, what could be referred to Anioma comprised of four Local Governments namely Ika, Oshimili, Aniocha and Ndokwa.

Now the four local governments comprises of nine local governments namely Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika south, Ika North-East, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South and Ukwuani.

Senator Ikpo was born on March 21, 1933 in Ibusa. He was educated at the St. Thomas School, Ibusa. He was a teacher, later bank clerk, representative, Longman, administrator, British Council, Company Director, elected Senator, 1979-1983, re-elected Senator, October-December, 1983; member, Action Group, 1958-1966, member, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), 1979-1983, administrative Secretary, UPN, , 1979-1983, Chief Organisation Secretary, UPN, old Bendel state branch until 1983; member, National Party of Nigeria, March-December 1983.

The people of Anioma are well educated. Long before Mid West region was created in June 1963, they benefitted from the free education programme of Chief Obafemi Awolowo GCFR (6 March 1909- 9 May 1987) when they were part of Western Region and thereafter when they became part of Mid Western region. It was during one of the several lunches that I had with Senator Ikpo at the National Assembly Canteen in 1979 that I first heard of the name Anioma.

ALADINMA was first proposed as the capital of Anioma state but reasons prevailed on Senator Ikpo’s committee and was later persuaded to make Asaba the capital of the proposed state.

This was long before General Ibrahim Babangida endorsed Asaba as the capital of Delta state.

Although Asaba is a very expensive city now but Asaba years ago, between 1886 and 1900, hosted the Royal Niger Company, which the British authorities set up to stimulate trade and the exportation of goods to England. That company has grown today into UAC Nigeria PLC.

Scottish explorer William B. Balkie, when signing a trade treaty with Igbo chief Ezebogo in Asaba on 30 August 1885, remarked “After our salutations, I speak of friendship, of trade, and of education, and particularly enlarged upon the evils of war, and the benefits of peace”, all of which was well received.

If Anioma state has been created, Asaba port could have become functional by now.

People used to refer to that area as Mid West Ibo or later Bendel Ibo. Senator Ikpo then lectured me that it was uncharitable to refer to his people as Mid West Ibo or Bendel Ibo. He explained that they were Igbos of the same identity with then Anambra and Imo states.

When Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari GCFR (25 February 1925 – 28 December 2018), took over from General Olusegun Obasanjo (85) GCFR on October 1, 1979, he was handed a Presidential Constitution that did not favour the creation of more states and local governments in the country.

“CBN"

If you look at Section 8 of the 1979 Constitution, you will discover that it will be impossible to create new states. That was the way the military wanted it.

The Section states “ 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 the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; (b) a proposal for the creation of the Senate 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 be 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 proposal 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”.

Whereas Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution also 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”.
You can spot the difference between the provisions of States creation as contained in both 1979 and 1999 Constitution. Although simple in look but impossible to implement. I suspect the military just do not want new states and local government to be created except the ones that they created.

Although we have practiced twenty two years uninterrupted democratic rule, we are still carrying out the military dictates. No new states have so far been created, the same goes with local governments.

As a result of the provisions as contained in the 1979 Constitution, President Shagari knew fully that new states may not be created. He then set-up a committee to water down the conditions as contained in the Constitution to make it easier for states and local governments to be created. He involved political leaders and the National Assembly in the committee. He appointed his Vice- President, Dr Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON (21 October 1932 – 19 November 2017) as the Chairman of the committee. The committee met at the State House, Ribadu on Tuesday, 23rd February, 1982 and agreed to set up a 17-man Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice-President of Nigeria to consider the question of creation of States in accordance with the following terms of reference: (i) To consider all papers, memoranda and suggestion made at the meeting of 23rd February, 1982 between the President and the Party Leaders. (ii) To consider the views of all five political parties as submitted in their respective memoranda to the President (iii) To examine Section 8 of the Constitution critically with a view to defining the procedural parameters of the terms “Referendum”, “Request”, and Proposal and other expression contained in the Section; (iv) To examine the issue relating to terms of offices of Office holders (Executive and Legislative) as they affect areas from which new States are to be created; (v) To suggest principles, procedures, mechanics, modalities and time schedule for the creation of States in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and their relation to the terms of reference (i) to (iv) above; and To consider and make recommendations on any other matter relevant to the exercise of creation of new States.

Other members of the committee were Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide (SAN) Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Dr Chuba Okadigbo, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs; Hon. J.C. Ojukwu, Hon. A.A. Waba, House of Representatives; Hon. Senator Ja’Afar J. Mangga, Hon. Senator Abba Ali, Senate representatives, Senator D.O. Dafinone, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim, NPN representatives Alhaji Musa Musawa, Dr. Ikem Okeke, PRP representatives, Dr. B.N. Ukegbu, and Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim, GNPP representatives.
The UPN and the NPP did not send representatives.

The inaugural meeting of the Committee took place in the Conference Room in the Office of the Vice-President of Nigeria, on 9th March, 1982. In an opening address, Dr. Alex Ekwueme stressed on the importance of the meeting and the need for the Committee to work hard and evolve procedures in accordance with the Constitution to help the legislature whose duty it was to create new States. He emphasized the need to correct the wrong impression being held by some Nigerians that the effort being made in this regard was to circumvent the provisions of the Constitution.

The Committee then took note of a letter received from the Leader of the UPN, Chief Obafemi Awolowo GCFR stating that his party would not participate in the meeting and deliberations of the Committee. It also took note of another letter from the leader of the NPP, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe GCFR 16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), stating that the names of their two representatives on the Committee would be forwarded in due course: (Subsequently, another letter was received from the NPP leader confirming that his party would not participate in the meeting and deliberations of the Committee).

Members of the Committee critically examined the terms of reference, their scope and the modalities to be adopted in carrying out the assignment. It was finally agreed that because of the disparate political and legal problem and implications of the relevant terms of reference, two sub-Committees—political and legal—be created to examine closely the issues involved and make recommendations to the main Committee for consideration as its subsequent meetings.

The sub-Committee completed their work and submitted their reports and recommendations to the main Committee for consideration. The legal sub-Committee had the benefit of advice from Prof B.O. Nwabueze, SAN and of draft bills in relation to creation of States by Chief Rotimi Williams, SAN. The main Committee met consecutively from 23rd to 31st March, 1982, to examine the reports and recommendations of the sub-Committee and to adopt a final position on the various terms of reference to be submitted to President Shagari by 31st March, 1982 as required.

Earlier the House of Representatives met on 21st May, 1980, and passed a resolution for the establishment of a committee on the creation of states.

The following members were appointed Honourables Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar(Chairman), Dr. O.O. Oreh, SulE Ibrahim, J.M. Zuokumor, S.I. Idakwo, Yunusa Folorunsho, T. Sekibo, Umaru Ahmed Shuni, Mrs Abimbola Babatope, T.O. Akinbode, T. Ogunsiji, S.A. Odetoyinbo, Chief M. Nwoseh, E. Ononokpono, S.U. Wanganga, G.B. Wodi, J.Y. Mallo, Idi Mustapha, M.A. Tukur Fagam, Badamasi Yamma, Dr. Gordon Idang and David Gba’aondo.

The Senate also nominated a Conference Committee of twelve Members. They were Senators D.O. Dafinone, A. Muazu, I. Dimis, Hassan Zuru, F.O.M. Atake, D.O.Oke, Adeyiga Ajayi, Onyeabo Obi, E.P. Echeruo, Umaru Lawan Bama and Barkin Zuwo.

The Secretary of the Committee was Dr. Bamidele Adewunmi.

A joint meeting of both houses was held and the list of the members of the House of Representatives was eventually reduced to twelve. The twelve new members were Honourables Abubakar Tuggar, Dr. O.O. Oteh, E. Ojogu, B. Kantoma, Y. Paiko, B.M. Mabrama Jen, Mrs Abiola Babatope, Tunji Abolade, S.M.C. Ihekweazu, M.A. Agbamuche, Sule Abubakar and Hamza Ngajiwa
A joint meeting of the two committees was later held on June 22, 1983. Present were Mr D.O. Enanya—C.O.C. (Senate), Mr. Ladi Falade, Dr. A. Dada—C.O.C. (House of Representatives) and Mr. Bamidele Adewunmi—Committee Clerk. They were all staff of the National Assembly.

The President of the Senate at that time, Dr. Joseph Wayas reminded the Conference of the need to harmonise the conflicting resolutions of both Houses and determine which of the requests for creation of New States should go for Referenda.

In a letter dated 11 December 1980, Senator Ikpo, along with Honourable Chief Martin Nwoseh, Honourable M.A. Agbamuche, Honourable A.N. Iduwe and Honourable G.N. Nwechue, rejected the idea of Onitsha to be part of Anioma state.

Honourable Abubakar Tuggar was then elected the Chairman of the creation of states of the National Assembly.

In all the committee received so many requests. Among the requests were for the creation of new Anambra state to be made up of Anambra, Awka, Idemili, Ihiala, Njikoka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Aguta; Ebonyi—Ishielu, Ikwo, Ezza, Afikpo, Ohasara and Abakaliki. Bauchi state to made up of Gombe state (Akko, Tangale-Waja, Dukku and Gombe) and Katagum (Shira, Katagum, Gamawa, Misau and Jama’re); Cross River to be made up of New Cross River State—Calabar Municipality, Akampa, Obubra, Ikom, Ogoja, Odukpani, Obudu and Oron. Bendel State to be made up of Anioma State(Ika, Oshimili, Aniocha and Ndokwa) and Delta State(Bomadi, Burutu, Ethiope, Isoko, Okpe, Ughelli and Warri). Gongola State to be made up of Taraba State (Wukari, Jalingo, Takum, Bali, Sardauna, Karim, Lamido, Ganye, Maye an Gamadiyo Districts of Numan LGA Zing, Jereng (Part of Mayo Belwa LGA). Imo State to be made up of Abia Sate (Aba, Obioma Ngwu, Ukwa, Isiala Ngwa, Arochukwu, Ohafia, Bende, Ikwuano/Umuahia and Isuikwuato District, Afikpo, Ohoazara; Aba State (Aba, Isiala Ngwa, Obioma Ngwu and Ukwa and Njaba (As in the request). Kaduna State to be made up of Katsina- Daura, Dutsinma, Katsina, Kankia, Mani, Malumfasi and Funtua; New Kaduna—Zaria, Ikara, Samnaka, Kachia, Jema’a, Birnin Gwari ans Kaduna LGA; Ondo State to be made up of New Ondo State(Akoko North, Akoko South, Akure, Idanre/Ifedore Ifesowapo, Ikale, Ese Odo/Ilaje, Ondo and Owo.

Others are Oyo State to made up of New Oyo(Ogbomoso, Oyo, Ifedapo, Iseyin,Kajola Irepo Iwo) and Oshun State (Ede, Ejigbo, Ifelodun, Ila, Irepodun, Irewole, Odo Otin, Osogbo, Iwo and Ogbomoso); Rivers State to be made up of Port Harcourt State (Port Harcourt City, Tai Eleme LGA, Bori LGA Excluding Odual Community, Ikwere, Etvhe and Ahoada; Sokoto State to be made up of Zamfara (Talata Mafara, Anka, Gumni, Maradun, Gusau, Chafe, Kaura/Namoda Zurmi, Isa, Zuru and Sakaba/Wasagu LGA) and Kebbi State (Arewa Dendi, Argungu, Baguda, Bunza,Gwandu, Jega, Koko/Besse, Sakaba/Wasagu, Yauri and Zuru. Kano State to be made up of Jigawa State (Birni-Kadu, Dutse, Gaya, Gwara, Sumaila and Wudil; Lautai State (Ringim, Kaugama, Garki, Gumel, Maitagari, Hadeija Keffin-Hausa and Birniwa), Ghari(Kazaure, Bichi and Dambatta) and Tiga State (Bebeji, Gwarzo, Rano, Tudun Wada and Rogo. Borno State to be made up of Gujba State( Damaturu, Fune, Gujba, Biu, Fika, Bade and Kaga) and New Borno( Askira-Uba, Bama, Damboa, Gwoza, Konduga, Maiduguri Metropolitan, Monguno and Ngala. Plateau State to be made up of Nassarawa/Middle Belt State (Lafia, Akwanga, Keffi, Nassarawa and Awe). Benue State to be made up of Kogi State(Kogi, Bassa, Okehi, Okene, Dekina and Idah); Okura State(Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu and Omalla) and New Benue (As in the Request)
That was the situation until Major General Muhammadu Buhari GCFR took over power on December 31st, 1983. He did not create new states or new local governments. His priority then was to pursue a war on indiscipline and corruption. The war turned futile.

General Ibrahim Babangida GCFR took over from Major General Buhari. And on September 23, 1987, he created Akwa Ibom and Katsina states.
On August 27, 1991, the same General Babangida created Abia, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Kogi, Taraba and Yobe states. On October 1, 1996, General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943-8 June 1998), created Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Gombe and Ekiti states, making it thirty-six states which we now have in the country.

If you observe, the new states created by General Babangida and General Sani Abacha were part of the requests submitted to Dr Ekwueme’s committee and Alhaji Abubakar Tuggar’s committee of 1982 and 1983 respectively.

The Abubakar Tuggar’s committee recommended that “We are convinced that the most sensible and stable approach to propose the creation of New States in Nigeria is to ensure that parity and equity do play a dominant role. Thus, new States proposed in the former Western Nigeria must be at par or equitably numbered if compared with those proposed in the former Eastern Nigeria. Similarly states in the former Northern should as far as possible be at par or equitably proposed with states in both former Eastern and Western Nigeria put together”.

The overriding criteria for all political and administrative reorganizations during the colonial era were administrative convenience and a reduction in the cost of administration.

It is hardly surprising that in 1954 when Nigeria became a full fledged Federation, the country had only three large regions with one of them larger and more populous than the rest of the Federation put together. In addition, each of the three Regions presented a dual personality. Instead of being a homogenous political unit, each consisted of a “Regional nucleus” occupied mostly, by a dominant ethnic group—the Yorubas in the West, the Ibos in East, and the Hausa-Fulanis in the North—with a peripheral zone occupied by various minority ethnic groups. The cumulative disastrous effect of this unusual political structure on the country’s fragile Unity and Stability can hardly be over-estimated and or anticipated.

Indeed it had often been argued that the imbalanced in the Nigeria Political structure during the first Republic not only made continuous political crisis inevitable but more importantly prompted the various minority groups in the country to agitate for their own States. What is more, the ill-fated Federal structure which rested on a theory of Regional Security and autonomy, as well as the socio-economic imbalance in the political system prevented the emergence of a broadly-based political consensus and clearly perceived national objectives. Consequently the issue of State Creation became a nagging problem that plagued this Nation from its very inception.

The movements for the creation of states in Nigeria can be traced back to 1937 when Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR (16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), advocated in his book “THE POLITICAL BLUEPRINT OF NIGERIA”, a Federal form of government for the country and the division of the country into eight constituent units based on geographical configuration. Dr. Azikiwe was later joined by Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo GCFR (6 March 1909-9 May 1987) who, in a book, “PATH TO NIGERIA FREEDOM” published in 1947, proposed a redivision of Nigeria into ten Federating units with ethnic, linguistic and cultural affinity as the basis of division. However, Chief Awolowo writing in 1966 seemed to have modified his stand when he shifted ground and advocated a redivision of the country into eighteen states—nine in the North and nine in the South based on linguistic and cultural affinity as well as economic viability of States in the Federation.

However on May 1, 1967, at a meeting of Western Region Leaders of thought at Ibadan, the same Chief Obafemi Awolowo advocated the creation of COR state—to be made of Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers state. “There is urgent need for the creation of COR state by decree which will be backed if need be by the means of force”.

Increased agitation by various minority ethnic groups for their own states in which they would feel safe from domination by the ethnic groups prompted the British Government in September 1957 to appoint the Minorities Commission, with Sir Henry Willink as Chairman to—-ascertain facts about minorities in Nigeria and propose means of allaying the fears, advise what safeguards could be provided in the Constitution, recommend, though only as last resort, the Creation of States specifying the areas to be included in such States evaluating their economic and administrative viability and ascertaining what effect the creation of New States would have on existing States and on the Federation and examine the question of revising the boundaries of existing Region.

The exercise for the creation of states was first carried out by General Yakubu Gowon on May 5, 1967 when he created twelve states out of the four regions we had then. Namely Western Region, Eastern Region, Mid-Western Region and Northern Region. He created North Western state, North Eastern state, Kano state, North Central state, Benue/Plateau state, Kwara state, Western state, Lagos state and Mid Western state.

On February 3, 1976, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (8 November 1938-13 February 1976) created additional seven states to make it nineteen states. They are Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun and Ondo states.

In effect only four military rulers have created states in Nigeria. Namely General Yakubu Gowon (88), General Murtala Muhammed (8 November 1938-13 February 1976), General Ibrahim Babangida(81) and General Sani Abacha(20 September 1943-8 June 1998).

I do not know whether new states will be created with the provisions as contained in the Constitution. The present thirty-six states structure in Nigeria is biased and partial. Even the present 774 local government structure is worse. It is prejudiced. Lopsidedness is a better word.

Teniola is a veteran journalist and a retired Director in the Presidency.