The Senate on Tuesday announced that it had received 57 requests for new states.
“We have 57 requests pending before us for state creation. I know that people should know that they have to negotiate and lobby at least two thirds of the 36 states of the federation to get any section of the 1999 Constitution amended,” Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), said.
The Senate Leader did not mention the names of the new states being requested nor the promoters.
Ndoma-Egba, at a round table discussion organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies in Abuja, said the National Assembly did not have any agenda concerning the move to amend the constitution.
The lawmaker said there were insinuations by individuals and groups alleging that the Senate and the House of Representatives had taken a position on the aspects of the constitution to be amended.
This, he said, was not true, adding that the National Assembly would only abide by the decision of the majority of Nigerians.
“National Assembly has no position on any of the proposals before it on constitutional amendments. We have no agenda; the Senate leadership does not have any agenda,” he said.
The Senator said that the leadership of the National Assembly had realised that it would be difficult to amend the constitution if many issues were listed for amendment.
For example, he said that the mere listing of tenure elongation made Nigerians to reject the plan to amend the constitution during the second tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He said because of the perceived hidden agenda, other 111 valuable items listed for amendment were jettisoned.
Ndoma-Egba said, “The lesson we have learnt in this is that we don’t have to take so many things into the amendment.
“We have learnt that we can no longer take the cocktail approach and think we will succeed.”
Speaking on the call by the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, for the scrapping of the Senate, Ndoma-Egba said the call might not be to save cost as postulated by the former governor of Lagos State.
He said the total amount allocated to the entire Senate was a mere three per cent of the nation’s total budget, adding that this amount was too little to affect the finances of the country.
He said the N150bn allocated to run the entire Senate “is a fraction to what we pay to an importer whose identity we may not know.”
Beside this, he said there was no way the country could operate only one legislative arm at the federal level “because while the members of the House of Representatives are elected on the basis of population, those in the senate are elected on the basis of equality.”
This process, he said, allowed the minorities in their states to have a representation.
Meanwhile, the Igbo umbrella body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Monday confirmed that it had sent its requests for the creation of more states from the present South-East to the senate.
President-General of the group, Chief Ralph Uwechue, however, said the zone had no specific number of states but demanded for equality and true federalism.
He said, “We are preaching true federalism based on the six zonal structures in Nigeria. Once it is operationalised, the zones can create whatever states or local government areas they wish to create.
“Our position is that power should go to the six regions and the governors-general of the regions would have regional assistants that would decide the number of states that would be created. That is our submission to the National Assembly.”
“Ndigbo specifically have been unfairly treated in this matter.
“The Igbo position is that the inequities and injustices of previous exercises need to be redressed. This should become part of the delineation exercise for the new six regional federal structure,” Uwechue added.
The General Secretary of the Yoruba pan organisation, Afenifere, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, however, said the group did not involve itself in the issue of state creation because it was concerned with the restructuring of the country to reflect a true federal structure.
Arogbofa said, “The problem of Nigeria is not about inadequate number of state but the lopsidednes of its federal structure.
“We believe that we need to restructure the political structure of the country to reflect a true federal state.
“We could talk of state creation for easy administration when the nation is truly restructured and we are practising the real federal system.”
A Kano State member of the House of Representatives, Kawu Sumaila, said in Kano that 10 requests for cration of new states had been received from communities in the North West zone.
Sumaila said, two of the requests were from Kano State.