By Pastor Power Ziakede Aginighan
My attention has been drawn to various reports in both the electronic and print media stating that the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution has foreclosed creation of new States in Nigeria. It was reported that the Committee’s position was predicated on the failure of the various requests for new States to comply with the provisions of Section 8 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
As one of the over 150 million Nigerians represented by the 109 Senators in the National Assembly, I completely disagree with the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution for the following reasons:
1. The Senate Committee concluded this very crucial assignment without conducting Signature Verification Exercise in all the areas requesting for new States.
2. The alleged failure to comply with the requirements of the Constitution is indeed the failure of the current Senators themselves who represent the various areas requesting for new States to provide leadership to their people. It further pinpoints the disconnect between the elected and the electors.
3. The Committee’s report paints a picture of teacher/student relationship between the Senators and their electors, of a very intelligent teacher and very dull students who failed all courses at the final examination. The true picture is that of a lazy teacher who failed to teach his courses only to set difficult questions for his students.
Going down memory lane, the second Republic National Assembly between 1979 and 1983 set up Committees on State Creation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Committees traveled across the length and breadth of the Country to verify signatures on various requests for new States and boundary adjustments. The December 1983 military coup truncated the process.
In the light of the above, I wish to make the following demands
1. The Senate should reject the report of the Ike Ekweremadu led Senate Committee on the review of the Constitution as it relates to States Creation.
2. The Senate and the House of Representatives should set up joint National Assembly Committee on Creation of New States and Boundary Adjustment with mandate to conduct Signature Verification Exercise in all the areas requesting for new States before submitting an actionable report. In the process, Senators and members of the House of Representatives should provide leadership in enlightening their peoples on the constitutional requirements for a new State to be created. Thereafter, requests for new States that do not meet the requirements can be justifiably eliminated.
Pastor Power Aginighan