Creation of more states: The road to failure

03 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – On September 25, 2012 the Punch Newspaper reported that the Senate had received 57 new requests for states creation from all over the country. Principal officers of the Upper legislative house, Senate President David Mark and Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba confirmed the figure. As it should, this development has woken us to the level of ethnic bias, greed and ignorance that infects our union. Nigeria is a big country no matter how you view it; the country’s over 160 million people live in a land (and water) area of about 910,770 square kilometres of 36 unequal states and a federal capital territory. But that is one African story. South Africa is a larger but less populated country; the country is divided into 9 administrative provinces which cater for about 50.5 million people. India has a population of 1.2 billion people and a land mass of 3 million square kilometres; India has only 28 states.

America’s last presidential election was about jobs and the economy for Americans. For others such as China, Italy, Greece and Brazil, it was about cutting down the cost of government, the cost of Welfare Programmes, re-allocating resources for economic growth and identifying waste for elimination. There is no collection of people, in my view, who have more contempt for their own welfare and future as Nigerians. What motivates leaders of ethnic nationalities to agitate for more states? Is it job creation by the multiplication of civil services for the newly created states? Is it to enable them finally become governor, speaker, chairman of a new state that has less competition than his current state? Is it to get some share of the Niger Delta cake seized by the Federal Government and nationalised for all? Do they really fool themselves that state creation would bring development closer to the people? Do those who seek to enjoy some of the booty seized from the Niger Delta not understand that what accrues now to State A is what would accrue to States B, C, D created from her? Would state creation be so interesting for the activists when this federal sharing system ceases? Is it not sad that some states are barely able to pay salaries of its workers but will scrape and scrounge to finance states creation lobbyists in Abuja? How can we plunge ourselves into economic destruction with our eyes wide open? Would Nigeria make more money to finance the new states? Don’t we realise that for each new state, another governor, government house, house of assembly, civil service would be catered for? Do we have the resources?

This is the story of black Africa, that while others take pains to strategise on creating avenues for growth, we strategise to suicide. In a few decades’ time, this rush to Abuja to share resources would stop, that is if the Nigerian state endures that long. What would we share when the wasting resources actually peter out or when new and more cost efficient energy sources replace them? The moral of the stories of Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and indeed Lagos, yes, Lagos, is that where people, no matter how diverse and distant, are mobilised with careful deliberation by visionary leadership, they can achieve for all, a level of sustainable development that all can take pride in. Any respectable street analyst knows that creating more states is simply multiplying recurrent expenditure around the country and that the more recurrent expenditure grows, the less, by mathematical exactness, capital expenditure will shrink. If we are going to continue existing as a nation, we must start now to vest financial responsibility and independence to all the existing states. The aberration that is the federal allocation of revenue must stop and give way to the management of resources in states by the states in which they are found, whether human, natural or environmental.

About the Author