Friday Essay: Why the South-East Should Stop Agitating for an Additional State – and Insist on Geo-Political Federating Units
Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
May 2, 2014
Ignoring Abuja FCT, there are thirty-six (36) states among the six (6) “informal” geo-political zones in the country, which means that on average each geo-zone has six (6) states. However while the North-West geo-zone actually has seven (7) states in its embrace, the South-East zone has only five – while all the other four zones have six states each. This “inequity” (a la South-East) is largely the basis for the agitation of one more state for the South-East BY the South-Easterners.
It is NOT a valid agitation.
First, the geo-zones are NOT constitutionally recognized, and secondly clearly the inequality/inequity will NOT be solved anyway by the creation of an additional state just in the South-East, unless simultaneously two of the states in the NW agree to merge, or failing that, two more states are created in the SE, while one more state each is created in all the other states, while the NW the is left at status quo ante. Besides, quite frankly, neither the landmass or the population of the SE or the homogeneity of the Igbo people of the South-Eastern geo-zone recommends this additional state — just look at the map of Nigeria, and the incredibly short distances between the capital cities of the South-Eastern states.
What is fair is fair.
Now, objectively, the creation of more states does not mean a bigger national economic pie. Rather given a set pot of pie size X (say trillion naira), previously divided among 36 states will now be divided among 37 states. For the 7-state geo-zone of NW, this means 7*(1/36 – 1/37)/(1/36)*100 or 7*2.7% or 18.9% reduction in economic pie, for the new 6-state geo-zone of SE, a (6/37-5/36)/(5/36)*100 or 16.8% increase in the pie, and for each of the other four 6-geozones, it would be a 6*2.7% or 16.3% reduction.
This is therefore a deal in which ONLY the South-East gains economically, despite equality of states with four other zones.
It is a bad deal for all but one.
Now suppose we divide the X pie on the basis of EQUALITY of zones, so that each got X/6. Then, the 7-zone NW would get X/6 instead of 7X/36 – or 14.3% reduction – at least less than 18.9%. the South-East will make a 20% increase if it remains at 5 states – which would be MORE than 16.8%. On the other hand, each of the six-state zones would have zero change – yes zero.
It is therefore not a bad deal for all but one.
But before I leave…..
For existential reasons, all the Southern States support the new geo-political federating-unit arrangement – except unwisely, t the South-East would settle for one additional state in that stead. The NC would be able shake loose of the Northern hegemony – in some sense. Four out of six is mathematically better than one of out six – and that is what will benefit Nigeria.
More reason why we should all go for the geo-political arrangement…
And there you have it.
Confab: North rejects creation of additional state for South-East
on May 02, 2014
BY Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
ABUJA—Even before the proposal for the creation of one more state for the South-East geo-political zone is tabled at plenary for discussion, the North has rejected the plan, saying the zone does not have the required landmass and population to warrant the new state
The opposition of the North to the creation of more states in the country and particularly for the South-East, is contained in a 46-page document, prepared by the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, for all northern delegates to the ongoing National Conference.
The document, which is entitled “Key Issues before the Northern Delegates to the 2014 National Conference”, also described Northern Nigeria as the “backbone and strength of Nigeria” and has already been distributed to the northern delegates.
The ACF said it opposed the creation of more states in Nigeria because too many states have tended to convert them into what it called “mere cost or effort centres” at the expense of socio-economic development.
“It is against this backdrop that the ACF believes that the creation of any additional state at this point in time is counter-productive and therefore, should be kept on hold until the need can be justified in future.
“The argument that creation of states should be on the basis of equality irrespective of population and landmass is inconsistent with the elementary concept of justice, since injustice is not only when equals are treated unequally but also when unequals are treated equally”.
The northern group argued further that going by the population average per state, each of the 36 states of the federation could be assumed to have an average of 3,888,987 and a landmass of 27,327 square kilometre.
Using its baseline land mass and average population for each of the states, ACF argued that the South-East with a total population of 16,381, 729 and a landmass of 33,664 square kilometres, presents each of the five states in the zone with a population of 3, 276,345 and a landmass of 33,664 square kilometres.
ACF, therefore, argued that the population per state in the South-East is far less than the national average by 612,642 while its landmass of 33,664 square kilometres is not up to 25 per cent of the National Average.
The group maintained that the total land mass of the South-East is just a little above the National Average per state.
On the other hand, the ACF boasted that its seven states in the North-West alone, boasts of a population of 35,786,994 and a land mass of 222,120 square kilometres, with an average population of 5,112,421, which it claimed is 1,223,434 higher than the national average.
Turning to the South-West, the northern group pointed out that the six states in the zone have a small population of 27,581,994, which amounts to 4,596,999 per state, which is 1,320,654 far higher than the South-East average.
But the ACF conceded that by land mass, the South-West with a figure of 78,774 square kilometres is 13,129 square kilometres or twice the South-East average.
The group argued that for any state to be created in the South-East, the South-West must have up to nine states first, if population were to be used as the deciding factor and as many as 12 more states if land mass were to be the deciding factor.
The north argued: “This proposition, which formed the cardinal position of the South-East since the 1994 Constitutional Conference, has been crafted to whittle down any political advantage the north could exercise in Nigeria despite its huge territorial size and large population.
“Yet, the concept of geo-political zones has no place in our constitution and it should remain so,” the group maintained.
North’ll truncate confab, southern delegates allege
Socio-political groups in the South, particularly the South-West and South-South, have raised the alarm that the North is bent on truncating the ongoing National Conference.
The groups, including the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere and the Ijaw National Congress, stated this in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja, while commenting on a 47-page document circulated by northern delegates on Tuesday.
Among others, the North said that all mineral resources should be under the control of the Federal Government.
It also advocated the reduction of the derivation fund from 13 per cent to 5 per cent, adding that population of the North is 80 per cent of the country’s total population.
The North called for a revenue allocation formula of 26 per cent for the Federal Government; states, 39 per cent and local governments, 35.
The region demanded the abolition of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the amnesty programme.
It stated that sharing of revenue should be based on equality, 35 per cent; population, 30 per cent; landmass, 20 per cent; internal revenue generation efforts, five per cent and social development, three per cent.
Prominent groups in the South-South rejected the position paper of the North’s delegates.
Commenting on the document, the spokesman of the INC, Mr. Victor Borubo, said that it was an attempt by the North to truncate the National Conference.
He stated, “On the call for the reduction of the 13 per cent derivation, we in INC believe that it is an attempt by the North to truncate the National Conference. They (North) want to raise issues that are blatantly unacceptable to the people of Niger Delta so that the whole confab will end up in fiasco.
“Let it be known to all that the minimum position of the South-South is resource control. The demand from the North is not only detrimental to the growth of the South-South region; it is also harmful to national development.”
On its part, Afenifere said that the document was offensive.
He said, “The document is to say the least offensive to the spirit of federalism and extremely selfish. How reasonable does it sound to seek abolition of derivation for revenue sharing in a federation?
“The culture of indolence they want to foist is betrayed in their wanting only 5 per cent allocation for capacity to generate revenue. It is ridiculous that they want 20 per cent for land mass. When land is an asset? Why should anybody be compensated for having asset? And how did they come about the land mass?”
Odumakin said that the natural boundaries of the North and South were Rivers Niger and Benue, but the British colonialists drew artificial boundaries to punish the South for fighting for independence.
He said that the colonialists gave 70 per cent of the land mass to the North.
Afenifere stated, “Today, the land mass of Niger state alone is twice the entire South-East and almost the entire South-West.
“How can that be a basis of sharing revenue except in a republic of iniquity? Why are people afraid of cultivating the land instead of using it to harvest revenue?”
He also doubted credibility census, adding that population could not be a criterion for revenue sharing.
But Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it had nothing against the memo presented by the North.
The Secretary General of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Dr. Joe Nwogu, said it was left for Nigerians to react when the committees submit their report.
Nwogu, who is also a delegate to the National Conference, said the North had done the right thing by placing their demands on the table, “as that is what is expected at the conference.”
He said, “Remember, the President asked us to put everything on the table except the issue of break-up. Arewa has put up what they term the Northern position, so it is now left for us to decide on which to adopt, or not to adopt at all.
“After the committees must have submitted their reports, Confab members at plenary will take it up.
The President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Organisation, Mr. Okechukwu Isiguzoro, shared Nwogu’s views, saying, “The North’s document should not cause panic as the majority will carry the day.”
He said, “For me, it is their view. We, the Igbos, will also present out views. It would then be left for the majority of the delegates at the conference to decide on which to adopt.”
However, the Middle Belt, which is supposed to be part of the North, disowned the northern document.
The Coordinator of the Federation of Middle Belt People, Mr. Manasseh Watyil, said that those representing the Middle Belt at the ongoing national conference were not doing the bidding of their people.
He said that they had allowed the interest of the middle belt people to be subsumed in the interest of the whole North.
Watyil, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Jos, said that what the Middle Belt wanted the creation of a separate region for the people.