Politics Of State Creation In Nigeria
This study examines the politics of state creation in Nigeria with Enugu state as a focus. The study aims to determine if state creation solves the problem of ethnicity in the state. Firstly, the study reexamines several attempts from different analytical perspectives, to explain why in Nigeria the quest for more states has continued unabated and had also assumed the character of life and death battle. Secondly, it has noted contending views between writers who use ethnic based and class perspectives to explain the pattern of political behavior and competition in Nigeria. Thirdly, we traced the political phenomenon in Nigeria to colonialism and obnoxious policies like “divide and rule” and uneven development pattern. Finally, we found that the inequality of the state, Local Government and House of Representatives is due to political influence and patronage during the creation periods which made some of the geo-political zones to be more than the other. This study will practically be of immense value to political leaders and policy makers in Nigeria and will also enlighten and educate the masses on their civic responsibilities in the states creation exercise.
1.1 Background of the Study
The history of state creation in Nigeria dates back to 1900 when Nigeria was divided into three distinct entities, the colony and protectorate of Lagos, the protectorate of Northern Nigeria and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. Each of this was administered independently by an administrator. However, what was in existence prior to the division of Nigeria was Royal Niger Company established by the British.
In 1906, however, the colony of Lagos was merged with the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria under the name colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. On 1st of January 1914, Lord Lugard amalgamated the Protectorate of Southern and Northern Nigeria. Lord Lugard emerged as the first Governor-General of Nigeria.
The 1946 Richards constitution established three regional councils, one each in the North, East and West. The Northern regional council was divided into two houses, but the council of the West and the East consisted of only one house each. Essentially, the major functions of both house was to make laws for easy administration of the regions.
On September 1957, the Willink commission was set up to address the problem of the minorities. This was due to the agitation for the creation of Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers States as well as the middle belt. The commission, however, recommended for the creation of Mid-Western region which came into being as a result of the agitation from the minorities.
From 1960 till date, a total number of six states creation exercises have taken place, thus Nigeria grew from the Regions in 1963 with the creation of mid-western region. General Gowon increased it to twelve states in 1967, in bid to forestall secession of Eastern Nigeria. General Murtala Mohammed created seven more states in 1976 to bring the number to nineteen-states. The number jumped to twenty one states in 1987 when General Ibrahim Babangida created Akwa-Ibom and Katsina states. He further increased the number to thirty states in 1991, with the hope that this would satisfy Nigeria`s yearning for state creation. But this yearning persisted and on Octobers 1st, 1996, General Sani Abacha altered the nation`s geo-political landscape once again, with the creation of six additional states placing it at the current thirty six states.
This has aggravated state creation politics in the country, particularly in Enugu state. This study examines the politics of state creation in Nigeria with Enugu state as a focus.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Enugu state since its creation in 1993 has not known peace because of the diachotomic behavior of groups making up the states. This has been politicized by the leaders and followers of the respective ethnic groups that make up the state. This development affects every aspect of socio-economic and political life of the citizens of this state.
Almost everything done in Enugu state, today, especially government policies and programme are considered from the angle of which group benefit more. Some people now feel that they cannot benefit from government policies unless their own man is at the helm of affairs. As a result of this belief, ethnic based syndrome is the order of the day. Experience of state creation in Nigeria has shown that granting these sectional groups, their own state does not solve the problem of sectionalism but rather regenerates and exacerbates ethnicity and similar request. The implication is that each time a new state is created; new groups emerge within the newly created state and begin to agitate for their own state. Hence, it seems that dichotomy or sectionalism cannot be solved by state creation.
Scholars like Eze (2013), Ellah (1982), Omolade (1980), have discussed the problem of state creation in Nigeria but none have addressed the problem of state creation in Enugu State.
It is on the basis of the above gap that we ask the following questions:
- Is tribal sentiment responsible for agitation of state creation?
- Does state creation solve the problem of ethnicity in Enugu State?
- Does democratic regime facilitate state creation?
- Does state creation promote development?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study is to examine politics of state creation in Nigeria.
Its specific objectives include:
- To find out if tribal sentiment is responsible for the consistent agitation for State Creation.
- To determine if State Creation can solve the problem of ethnicity in Enugu State.
- To determine if democratic regime can facilitate State Creation.
- To determine if State Creation can enhance development in the country.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance of the study is two folds; theoretical and practical. Firstly, it will theoretically increase the existing body of knowledge in the scholarship on the politics of State Creation exercise in Nigeria.
Secondly, the research will practically be of immense value to political leaders and policy makers in Nigeria and will also enlighten, and educate the masses on their civic responsibilities in the state creation exercise. By so doing it will go a long way in providing practical solution to the socio-economic and political problems in Nigeria federal system. Equally, the study serves as a guide to policy making on the appropriate measure for the unity in diversity.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
The politics of state creation since the last decade of colonialism in Nigeria has been re-occurring decimal in our body politic. It is no longer a political fact in quest of consensus but the “why” of this endemic phenomenon is yet to be conclusively resolved among political observers/commentators, scientist, particularly political scientists and even actors in the scene. In this study, we re-examined several attempts from different analytical perspectives, to explain why in Nigeria the quest for more states has continued unabated and had also assumed the character of life and death battle. In doing so, we have noted contending views between writers who use ethnic based and class perspectives to explain the pattern of political behavior and competition in Nigeria.
We also traced the politics of state creation syndrome in Nigeria to colonialism and obnoxious policies like “divide and rule”, uneven development pattern. We argued that by dividing the people into separate administrative units and making these units salient in the day-to-day interaction of the citizens with the state, the policy instilled a feeling of ethnic separation in the people. In effect, in the struggle for spoils of office and scare resources of the state, the administrative unit became the major contenders. This equally gave the politicians the opportunities to whip up local or tribal sentiments in their struggle for office as winning an administrative unit was crucial in the election of Enugu State.
In fact, a candidate who hails from an administrative unit with a large population stood a chance of winning the Enugu State Governorship election. This trend was obvious in the United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP) Primary nomination.
The Enugu, Nsukka zonal tribal interest in the state today cannot be extricated from this policy as each group still trace their origin to these old administrative units created by colonialism. Moreover, the colonial state in alliance with its other apparatus like the Christian churches pursued a development pattern that brought socio-economic disparity in the state. Artifacts of modernity were concentrated in the colonial administrative commercial centres. This pattern created unevenness in development as some parts benefited less than others from the scares resources dished out by the states. One area this was obviously noticed was in the area of education.
We also observed that all the existing states were all created under military fiat. That is to say that there are no objective criteria for the creation. Meanwhile, the entire attempt by the civilians in creation of states, could not work because of stiff constitutional provisions. It was discovered that the inequality of the state, Local Government and House of Representatives are due to political influence and patronage during the creation periods which made some of the geo-political zones to be more than the other.
The study examined the problems of state creation in Nigeria with particular attention to Enugu State. In our course of study, we observe that the endemic character of conflict in every state arises from the mechanics of power relations. Therefore, state creation reproduces emergence of new minorities and new petty or comprador bourgeoisie who manipulates social production, reproduction process to their advantage and the consequent expansion of the population of the country’s poor. However, the success recorded by new states in terms of infrastructure and human development cannot be over emphasized because sate creation promotes development. Despite the above, ethnic or tribal sentiment still remains a turn in the flesh of Enugu state people. This has really affected the state both in developmental programme and mutual understanding of the people.
We hereby recommend the following:
That Nigeria should become a federation of six geo-political zones with equal state creation and more accommodation of the minority group interest for their effective integration. This should be done through a balance state creation exercise and the delimitation of constituencies. On this, there is immediate need for the creation of additional state for the South East zone
Agriculture should be revamped to make it create the much needed employment opportunity, which will make every individual or group to contribute his or her own quota to national development, it is only when people don’t have employment that they are vulnerable to manipulation by the petty or comprador bourgeoisie in the society for the purpose of destruction.
The need for competent leaders cannot be over emphasized as a possible panacea to this problem of state creation. Nigeria needs a leader with vision and insight as well as the will power to put forward and maintain equitable distribution of the national resources and healthy economic growth that is totally independent. These presupposed two things:
- The power of ballot box should be respected for us to choose a leader with acceptability and confidence.
- That corruption both at higher and low places must be vigorously fought, for no meaningful economic growth flourishes in such environment.
We also recommend a Review of Section 8 (eight) of 1999 ConstitutionArticle iii, C and D which stipulates the approval of state creation by 2/3 majority of both the upper and lower Houses, simple majority all the thirty six (36) states House of Assembly. This is to make State Creation possible in a democratic government.
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