POLITICS OF STATE CREATION IN NIGERIA
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 dichotomous behaviour of groups making up the states. This has been politicized by the leaders and followers of the respective Senatorial Zones 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:
1. Is tribal sentiment responsible for agitation of state creation?
2. Does state creation solve the problem of ethnicity in Enugu State?
3. Does democratic regime facilitate state creation?
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:
1. To find out if tribal sentiment is responsible for the consistent agitation for State Creation.
2. To determine if State Creation can solve the problem of ethnicity in Enugu State.
3. To determine if democratic regime can facilitate State Creation.
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.
1.5 Literature Review
Scholars have done a lot of study on state creation. We shall attempt to review some of their opinions, views, comments and findings viz:
There are two contending view on the issue of creation of more states in Nigeria. The scholars that are in support and the ones against state creation. The protagonist of State Creation like Azikiwe, Awolowo, Ellah, Federick, Omolade etc. opine that state creation or division of the country into state will bring the government nearer to the people, laying basis for development, or the need for unity in the country. They also contend that creation of states in Nigeria will inexorably lead to the minimization or elimination of both-state and intra-state conflict, avoidance of domination of the country by one section, and of one section by another, and finally assurance of economic development of all parts.
Furthermore, they suggested that the implication of the forgoing is that unity will be more easily achieved if:
a. Legislation does not go against the wishes of any part;
b. Economic development of all parts are encouraged so that no area will feel neglected;
c. Every part is adequately represented and protected;
d. Every part has equal opportunity of participation in the political process.
For them, this will minimize conflicts; enhance greater opportunities for cultural, political and economic development and greater share of federal government resources (Omolade, 1980:199-202).
Omolade (1980:195) in support of the reasons listed above asserted that unity implies much more than absence of succession. It also implies that all parts have a feeling of belonging; that is an absence of discontent in any part of the state.
Fredrick Barth as cited by Omolade, (1980:201) pointed out that state in the federal set-up must comprise of group that have exclusive values in the form of language, culture, institution, sacred tradition, and standard of living, the means can be determined by themselves alone. In Nigeria, such groups are indigenous or tribal groups.
Contrary to the above reasons, Rotimi, and Kunle (1999:281) condemned the idea that focal issues in nation building became a conflict demands for “unification and separation”.Unity and stability in Nigeria were the reasons given in 1979 state creation, yet it could not solve the problem of state creation.
Moreover, the difficulties associated with nearness between any two places are affected by (i) physical distance (ii) the nature of the route and (iii) the particular means of communication. If this is properly addressed, the issue of state creation will be minimized. Finally, Nigeria is also one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world with over two hundred and fifty ethnic groups and four hundred and fifty languages, some of which are bigger than many independent state of contemporary Africa. Given this profound ethnic heterogeneity, it is not a good criteria or reason for state creation in Nigeria (Rotimi, 1999:277).
Thus, when Babangida created nine new states and one hundred and forty new local governments in August 1991, he announced federal take-off grant of thirty million naira for each new state and five million naira for each local government. The Babangida`s government also approved an expenditure of about one hundred and fifty million naira for each state for the provision of key infrastructure facilities like office complex, secretariat, township road in their respectively headquarters (Rotimi, 1995:29).
It is against this background that ShehuShagari opined that:
……..it is hard to see what contribution the creation of yet more states will make to our recovery and progress… civil servants will earn rapid promotion and businessmen and women a fresh wave of contracts for more prestigious buildings and projects. That means no new resources are likely to be generated either from taxes, production or services. Dependent on federal hand-outs ill-equipped to perform their functions, the new state will simply be a drain on already limited resources….. That is not development; it is absurdity (Onyishi, 1995:286).
Moreover, the class-based theorist of state creation politics in Nigeria such as OkwudibaNnoli, EmeEkwekwe, and Ali Yahayacommonly view the problems of state creation as originally generated by the dominating class or the socio-economic and political petty or comprador bourgeoisie in the country that start by distinguishing their class interest in ethnic rationalization. Thus, in the words of Nnoli, the analysis of ethnic politics suggests that the relevant explanation lies in the class character of Nigerian ethnicity, particularly the desire of the various regional factions of the privileged classes to carve out their own sphere of economic domination (Onyishi, 1995:82-83).
The school of thought argues basically that members of ethnic or communal groups who join the movement for “their own” states are in the words of Nelson Kasfir “victim of false consciousness”. But the basic problem of the radical approach is its inability to appropriate that “false consciousness” is still consciousness whether or not the actor recognizes his “true interest”.
Perhaps it is this attitude to Nigerian politicians that made Ake to describe the Nigerian state position as deliberately used in the private accumulation of public resources on behalf of their wretchedness by forming tribal association which served as multiplicity of functions (Onyishi, 1995:95).
One significant element in the issue of state creation is the persistence emergence of new minority or “neglected” or “dominated” areas or group as successive new states were created, notwithstanding the increasing homogeneity of many of the new states that have emerged in the process.
We shall conclude this section of the study by positing (a) that the politics of state creation in Nigeria cannot be satisfactorily explained by reference exclusively either to ethnic and cultural motives or class or elite analysis; (b) that ethnic alliance formed for the purposes of state demands are frequently products of rational calculation of members, big and small, not in all cases the indigenous manipulation of elites or ethnic entrepreneur alone; (c) that economic calculation is the most significant well-spring of the scramble for more states by Nigerians but this calculation is by no means exclusive preserve of the dominant class or the privileged class or the elite; (d) that our political/social institution contributed some quota (e) that the geo-metric increase in population cannot be left behind and (f) the ethnic imbalance contributes to the demand for state creation.
The argument is that our politics is formed and patterned by more complex socio-economic and cultural factors which should be closely studied and interpreted to permit the development of a framework that provides a more effective handling of the issues at play. Secondly, the geometric increase in our population census cannot be over-emphasized. And finally the ethnic imbalance in the statecreation. In 1967 the country was divided into twelve states, Northern region (six), the other two major ethnic group (East and West) including the federal territory of Lagos (six).Presently in the thirty six state structures, the North has nineteen including the federal capital territory while the East and West have seventeen. Hence, geo-politically, it is still imbalanced.
From this context, there is a need for state creation mostly for the purpose of protection or maintenance of some worthwhile culture, social and political values which members of a particular group cherish exclusively, but cannot be protected or maintained by the generality of people or by the large group of people other than the particular group.
It is a means of bringing the government (political participation), development to the grass-root or to the people`s doorsteps. On the ground of development, it is not who is developed? Or who benefit from the development? But the question is, is there any development at all? For instances, thirty six (36) states, thirty six (36) governors, thirty Six (36) deputy governors, thirty six (36) House of Assembly, thirty six (36) speakers, seven hundred and seventy four (774) local government chairmen and development centres and their coordinators, councilors, more autonomous communities with their traditional rulers, more state universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and mono-techniques etc. are gains from states creation.
Scholars like Eze(2013), Onyishi(1995), Rotimi(1995), Omolade(1980), and others have written interesting articles on politicsof state creation in Nigeria but little or none has been done on Enugu State, hence, the need for more inquiry.
1.6 Theoretical Framework
The framework to be used in this research is the Marxist political economy approach. This is basically because state creation is an ideology and being an ideology, it serves the interest of different classes in different ways. Furthermore, the basic starting point in the Marxist framework is the understanding and interpretation of society and politics. Every state thus represents a special apparatus for coercing people and it is therefore an organ of class rule. That is for the ultimate refinement of injustice and oppression.
The framework aids for explaining and understanding politics and internal dynamicsit focus attention on class struggle. The fundamental question is how the economy should be controlled and used. It perceives capitalism, imperialism and the proletarian struggle against the ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange as the main tenants of politics.
Furthermore, Marxist political economy approach is characterized by the method of dialectical materialism. This method has certain important features which makes it feasible as a scientific method of analysis. First, it regards material production as the bane of socio-political activities. Economic need is man`s primary activity, hence every society is saddled with the task of production. Every society at different stages of development has different mode of production corresponding to the objective material condition. Each mode of production develops its own productive forces and production relations in the sense that it puts the interest of the producers at cross road with the interest of the owners of the means of production. In effect, the two are in antagonistic relations with each other. Thus the dialectical method not only recognized the primacy of material production relations and more importantly the dynamics and contradiction inherent in different production system. These important features will be useful in the analysis of the reasons behind state creation in Nigeria.
First, in the causes of state creation in Nigeria, we shall not fail to dig out the socio-economic basis of the conflict. That is, how the socio-economic structure of one country generated or contributed to state creation. In other words, the fundamental relationship that exists between the economic structure of our society and the problem under study. The importance attached to classes in the Marxist political economy framework will enable us to tackle such questions as:
1. To what extent does dichotomy or sectionalism serve the respective interest of the different classes in Enugu State?
2. Which classes benefit most from the politics of state creation?
3. Which action(s) of the privileged classes exacerbate state creation?
Secondly, the dynamics of this method will help us to trace the development of ethnicity or sectionalism in Nigeria and Enugu state in particular. Societies and all social; processes are always in motion, their development determined by contradiction inherent in them. With this method, we shall try to attempt to explain various contradictions in the society that generate state creation. This method will also help us to understand not only how the problem of sectionalism started, but also its dynamics over time.
Thirdly, the relatedness of elements of social life as emphasized by this method will help us in finding out the extent the economic process along with how other processes affect and in turn affected by ethnicity (state creation) and also the extent to which ethnicity can assume a dynamism of its own.
Arising from the research questions, we hypothesize that:
1. Tribal interest is responsible for the agitation for state creation in Nigeria.
2. State creation does not solve the problem of ethnicity in Enugu.
3. Democratic regime hardly facilitates state creation in Nigeria.
1.8 Methods of Data Collection and Analysis
The data used for this study were generated from secondary sources. The materials that constitute the secondary data for this study include: books from libraries such as textbooks, journals, newspapers/magazines, seminar papers delivered at workshops and unpublished materials.
This research work will be analyzed using content analysis of written records. This method of analysis will help this research work collect and analyze the views of various scholars on the politics of state creation in Nigeria, using Enugu State as the case study.
1.9 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This project work shall discuss the politics of state creation in Nigeria, focusing mainly on Enugu State.
1.10 Operationalization of Concepts
The major concepts and statement that formed the bedrock of this study will be properly explained.
State:- The term state can be viewed in two ways:
i. Legal state
ii. Philosophical state
i) Legal State:-A state is “a definite entity where law and order are maintained within the defined boundaries by a supreme authority,”(Ibezim, 1994). The term state is used in political science and government to denote a sovereign nation.
The former President of America, Wildrow Wilson defined state thus: “a state is a people organized for law within a definite territory”. Finally, state may be defined according to K.K. Oriaku (2000), as an association of man and woman formed for certain specific purposes with a clearly defined territory and organized system of government.
In other words, a state is seen as legal, natural and objective phenomenon. The concept of state itself is derived from the French word “Etat” or the German word “Saat”, meaning a legal entity, a legal person, or organization of the highest order.
i) Philosophical State:-For V.I. Lenin (1984:10) the state is therefore a power forced on society from and just as little as it is the reality of ethnical idea, the image and reality of reason. Hegel maintains rather that it is a product of a society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into irreconcilable antagonism which it is powerless to dispel, but in order that these antagonism, these classes with conflicting economic interest might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power seemingly standing above the society that would moderate the conflict and keep it within the society by placing itself above it, and alienating itself more and more. It is the state.
In other words, state is a product of unseen forces that emerge to mediate and moderate on the irreconcilable class antagonism. This is a philosophical state.
Form the above explanation and definition of the two states, it is important to know that we are specifically concerned with the first state that is the legal state in this research work.
State Creation:-“State Creation is the process of carving out a homogenous entity from a heterogeneous one. The homogeneity and heterogeneity are usually identified by the culture, religion, demography and other ethno related issue” (Eze 2013).