There is tension in the National Assembly over states creation. The desire for new states has caused a sharp division among the principal officers.
Senate President David Mark and his deputy, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, are for new states; most members of the House of Representatives from the North are not. The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, who wants a new a state in the Southeast, is in a dilemma over how to manage the opposition in the House against state creation. Following the tension generated by the House’s poll survey on proposals for constitution amendment, the leadership has decided to give the 360 members a week to make their observations or complaints known.
After the complaints have been addressed, the report of the survey will be tabled at the plenary for consideration. There are 36 states – 19 in the North and 17 in the South. A breakdown of states in the North is as follows: North-West-7; North-East-6; and North-Central-6. In the South, the picture of states on geopolitical basis is: South-West -six, South-East-five; and South-South-six.
The disagreement over state creation is a major challenge confronting the National Assembly Committee on Constitution Review. It was gathered that the tension over state creation accounted for the delay in considering the report of the Poll Survey conducted by the House of Representatives.
A principal officer, who spoke in confidence, said: “Our leaders and members are divided on whether we should create new states or not. For instance, President of the Senate, David Mark, his deputy, Chief Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha are in support of new states. “The supporting principal officers also hold contrasting views on state creation. I could see some selfish motives behind it.
“Most members of the House from the North are not keen because they are suspecting that there is a deliberate plot to limit the new states to the Southeast and minority areas in the North for strategic reasons for 2015 elections. “The Northern lawmakers are of the opinion that their zones may be shortchanged because the number of new states may be limited to one or two. They believe that there is an agenda to hide under parity factor to create one or two new states to achieve some political points. This is causing anger and tension in the National Assembly.
“The state creation is seen as an agenda against the core North, especially Hausa-Fulani. This is a faulty take-off point. “Do not forget that the agitators of new states require two-thirds consent from the 36 state Houses of Assembly. They can wish it; we can also use our strength to stop it.” A source in Mark’s camp referred our correspondent to the consistent position of the President of the Senate on state creation. “I do not think the President of the Senate has changed,” he said.
While receiving the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Paulinus Igwe, in Oturkpo, Mark said: “I am for the creation of Apa state and any other state that may fit the conditions. I have never shied from my agitation for creation of additional states just as I have always called for the creation of roles for traditional rulers in the Constitution. The traditional rulers are the custodians of peaceful coexistence in our various local communities. We must, therefore, confer on them constitutional powers that would enable them to perform the roles of ensuring peace in the communities.”