In Farewell Speech, Buhari Apologises to Nigerians for ‘Temporary Pain and Suffering’ Caused by His Policies
ANIOMA, THE BIAS AND IMBALANCE IN CREATION OF STATES
ERIC TENIOLA writes on deliberate obstacles in the path of state creation
If the bar on creation of new states, as contained in our 1979 and 1999 Presidential Constitutions had been lowered, Anioma could have become a state by now. And not part of Delta State. Likewise Ijebu, Ijesha, Okun which comprises of Mopa, Ogidi, Ayetoro Gbede, Okedayo, Odo Ere, Ife, Egbe, Iyara, Iyamoye, Odoape, Ekinrin-Adde, Kabba, Isanlu, Obajana, Ikoyi, Agbaja, as well as other states, could have been created, by now.
Anioma means “Good Land” in the Igbo language.
Mineral resources identified in Anioma include large deposit of gas at Okpai and Ndokwa. Dominant industry in Anioma is education, hence the first teachers’ training institute in Western Region of which the Anioma nation was part of was in Ibusa in today’s Oshimili North local government area. If it had been created, Anioma could have become the sixth Igbo state.
Major towns and villages include Asaba, Agbor, Kwale, Oligbo, Ibrode, Ibusa, gbanke, Igbodo, Igbuku, Illah, Isa-Ogwashi, Iselegu, Isheagu, Isikiti-Ishiagu, Issele-Azagba, Issele-Mkpitime, Issele-Uku, Isumpe, Mbiri, Ndemiri, Ndokwa, Abbi, Inam-Abbi, Eziunm, Nkpolenyi, Nsukwa, Obeti, Obi Anyima, Obi Umutu, Obi, Obiaruku, Obikwele, Obinumba, Obior, Obodo-Eti, Obomkpa, Ogbe, Ogode, Ogume, Ogwashi-Uku, Oko Anala, Oko/Ogbele, Oko-Amakom, Okotomi, Okpa, Okpanam, Okwe, Oligbo, Oligbo, Olor-Usisa, Olu-Odu, Omaja, Onicha Olona, etc.
Outstanding men and women like Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu (26 February 1937- 29 July 1967), Chief Dennis Chukude Osadebay (29 June 1911 — 26 December 1994), Chief Ogoegbuname Idise Dafe (1928 to 1981), Chief Jim Ovia (70), Chief Nduka Obaigbena (63), Chief Tony Elumelu, Nduka Irabor, General Alaba Isama (rtd.), Mitchell Obi, Nduka Otionu, Ambassador Joe Keshi, Chris Okolie, General Fred Chijuka (rtd.), Colonel Trimnel, Major Okonkwo, Chief Sunny Odogwu, Nduka Eze, Godwin Emefiele, Colonel Igboba, Professor Fideli Odia, Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie, Bode Bernard, Admiral Dele Ezeoba, Ambassador Ralph Uwechei, Dame Winnie Akpani, Dr. Austin Izagbo, Epipany Azinge (SAN), Frank Nwachukwu Ndili, Ike Nwamu, Emma Nyra Joseph Udeh, Maryam Babangida, General Lucky Irabor, Alex Iwobi, Professor Joseph Chike Edozien, Professor Patrick Utomi, Zulu Sofola, Sam Obi, Austine “Jay-Jay”Okocha, Nduka Odizor, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lisa Omorodion, Ned Nwoko, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Demas Nwoko, Faze, Chief Phillip Asiodu, Emmanuel Ibe Kachukwu, Joseph “Hannibal” Achuzie, Sunday Oliseh, Ifeanyi Okowa, Joy Ogwu and others too numerous to mention, are all from Anioma.
The struggle for the creation of Anioma State started a long time ago but it became more vocal in 1980. And men like Senator Nosike Ikpo (1933-2021) championed the cause. At that time, what could be referred to Anioma comprised of four local governments namely Ika, Oshimili, Aniocha and Ndokwa. Now the four local governments had been increased to nine, namely, Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika South, Ika North-East, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South and Ukwuani.
Senator Ikpo was born on March 21, 1933 in Ibusa. He was educated at the St. Thomas School, Ibusa. He was a teacher, later bank clerk, administrator, company director, elected Senator, 1979-1983, re-elected Senator, October-December, 1983; member, Action Group, 1958-1966, member, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), 1979-1983, administrative Secretary, UPN, 1979-1983; Chief Organisation Secretary, UPN, old Bendel state branch until 1983; member, National Party of Nigeria, March-December 1983.
The people of Anioma are well educated. Long before Mid-West region was created in June 1963, they benefitted from the free education programme of Chief Obafemi Awolowo when they were part of Western Region and thereafter when they became part of Mid-Western region. It was during one of the several lunches that I had with Senator Ikpo at the National Assembly Canteen in 1979 that I first heard of the name Anioma.
ALADINMA was first proposed as the capital of Anioma State but reasons prevailed on Senator Ikpo’s committee and was later persuaded to make Asaba the capital of the proposed state. This was long before General Ibrahim Babangida endorsed Asaba as the capital of Delta State.
Although Asaba is a very expensive city now but years ago, between 1886 and 1900, it hosted the Royal Niger Company, which the British authorities set up to stimulate trade and the exportation of goods to England. That company has grown today into UAC Nigeria PLC. Scottish explorer William B. Balkie, when signing a trade treaty with Igbo Chief Ezebogo in Asaba on 30 August 1885, remarked, “After our salutations, I speak of friendship, of trade, and of education, and particularly enlarged upon the evils of war, and the benefits of peace”, all of which was well received.
If Anioma State has been created, Asaba port could have become functional by now. People used to refer to that area as Mid-West Ibo or later Bendel Ibo. Senator Ikpo then lectured me that it was uncharitable to refer to his people as Mid-West Ibo or Bendel Ibo. He explained that they were Igbos of the same identity with then Anambra and Imo States.
When Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari took over from General Olusegun Obasanjo on October 1, 1979, he was handed a Presidential Constitution that did not favour the creation of more states and local governments in the country.
If you look at Section 8 of the 1979 Constitution, you will discover that it will be impossible to create new states. That was the way the military wanted it. The section states, “An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if— (a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely—(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; (b) a proposal for the creation of the Senate is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated; (c) the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly; and (d) the proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of each House of Assembly. Two, An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of boundary adjustment of any existing State shall only be passed if— (a) a request for the boundary adjustment, supported by two thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the boundary adjustment) in each of the following, namely— (i) the Senate and the House of Representatives (ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; and (b) a proposal for the boundary adjustment is approved by— (i) a simple majority of members of each House of the National Assembly, and (ii) a simple majority of members of the House of Assembly in respect of the area concerned”.
Whereas Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution also states that “An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new State shall only be passed if a. a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in each of the following, namely, i., the Senate and the House of Representatives, ii., the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and iii., the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly; b. a proposal for the creation of the State is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the State originated; c., the result of the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the States of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly”.
You can spot the difference between the provisions of States creation as contained in both 1979 and 1999 Constitution. Although simple in look but impossible to implement. I suspect the military just do not want new states and local government to be created except the ones that they created.
Although we have practiced 22 years uninterrupted democratic rule, we are still carrying out the military dictates. No new states have so far been created, the same goes with local governments.
As a result of the provisions as contained in the 1979 Constitution, President Shagari knew fully that new states may not be created. He then set-up a committee to water down the conditions as contained in the Constitution to make it easier for states and local governments to be created. He involved political leaders and the National Assembly in the committee. He appointed his Vice- President, Dr Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme as the Chairman of the committee. The committee met at the State House, Ribadu on Tuesday, 23rd February, 1982 and agreed to set up a 17-man Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice-President of Nigeria to consider the question of creation of States in accordance with the following terms of reference: (i) To consider all papers, memoranda and suggestion made at the meeting of 23rd February, 1982 between the President and the Party Leaders. (ii) To consider the views of all five political parties as submitted in their respective memoranda to the President (iii) To examine Section 8 of the Constitution critically with a view to defining the procedural parameters of the terms “Referendum”, “Request”, and Proposal and other expressions contained in the Section; (iv) To examine the issue relating to terms of offices of Office holders (Executive and Legislative) as they affect areas from which new States are to be created; (v) To suggest principles, procedures, mechanics, modalities and time schedule for the creation of States in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and their relation to the terms of reference (i) to (iv) above; and To consider and make recommendations on any other matter relevant to the exercise of creation of new States.
Teniola was a Director in the Presidency