Can We Create More States in Nigeria?
Perhaps, the biggest issue affecting Nigeria today is creating more states. It appears the states will not be enough even with the present 36 states.
The following are some important facts about state creation:
#1: The original division of Nigeria into three regions by the British colonial government roughly represent the three “main” Nigerian ethnic groups-North (Hausa-Fulani), West (Yoruba), East (Igbo).
#2: There were genuine fears from minority ethnic groups about ethnic domination by the three “main” ethnic groups at the eve of Nigerian independence in 1960, but the colonial government argued that creating more “minority” states will never be the solution.
#3: The first attempt at creating more states (regions) in post-colonial regime is the creation of Mid-West out of the old Western region to cater for “minority interest” in 1963.
Why is it “so difficult” to create more states in Nigeria? There are myths concerning state creation, some of which are:
#Myth1: It will be difficult for Nigeria to create states under a democratic regime considering the rigorous, horse-trading, and technical process involved in state creation in the 1999 Constitution.
#Reality1: While it is true that above 30 of the present states were created during various Military regimes, the Mid-Western region was created in the First Republic following the rigorous constitutional provisions. The region is present-day Edo and Delta states.
#Myth2: Nigeria deserves more than 36 states considering her diversity of over 400 ethnic nationalities and geographical size.
#Reality1: Even the US with its huge diversity has just 50 states with some geographically larger than Nigeria. The last two states-Alaska and Hawaii- were admitted in 1959, a year before Nigerian independence!
#Reality2: China is considered World most populous country, and second largest by geography, with about 56 ethnic groups. It has just 23 Provinces (including Taiwan).
#Myth3: State creation will solve the problem of ethnic minorities in Nigeria with amost all ethnic groups having their own “homes” as states.
#Reality1: While it looks ideal to create states for all ethnic groups in Nigeria, creating a new state has always automatically created new identities for “new minorities”. Even if all the present 774 Local Government Areas(LGAs) in the country are upgraded to states, there will still arise the problem of minorities presently existing in the Local Governments.