Sunday, 19 September, 2021 12:37

54th Anniversary of States Creation

By Eric Teniola

On Thursday, May 27, it will be the 54th anniversary of the creation of states by General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR. The question is, what is so special about the 54th anniversary? The answer is that it is special because that was the biggest attempt to protect and guarantee the interests of the minorities in Nigeria. It was also a strike on the backbone of the four regions at that time in Nigeria. Regrettably, the objectives for the creation of states as announced by General Yakubu Gowon on May 27, 1967, have not been realized. I know there will not be celebrations on Thursday, May 27 in the country for the challenges of insecurity that we face nationwide. But 54 years ago we had a leader that attempted to unite this artificial country and give us a sense of belonging. Let’s face it the country itself is in kaput. We live in constant fear not sure of what will happen to us. It is so risky now to travel from one town to the other. The government seems helpless and the people are dejected. I do not think we have ever had it so bad. Today, most of the states are in financial comatose. Some states cannot even afford to pay the minimum wage. Most of their revenue is spent on providing vehicles and equipment to the Nigeria Police Force which they do not control. Most, if not all, are today bedeviled with insecurity in their domains which has hampered any meaningful development. Implementation of Capital Projects has been suspended if not delayed because of insecurity. Albeit creation of states was a laudable exercise for which we should be grateful to General Yakubu Gowon. Between 1966 and 1967, a collegiate of Federal Permanent Secretaries whom Alhaji Alade Odunewu alias ALLA DE of the old DAILY TIMES labeled as SUPER PERMANENT SECRETARIES, suggested to General Yakubu Gowon that the best way to solve the lingering crisis between the central government and the then Eastern Nigeria was to create more states in the federation to break the backbone of the regions. There were four regions at that time- Northern Region, Western Region, Eastern Region, and the Middle Western Region. The collegiate of Permanent Secretaries at that time was headed by Chief Allison Ayida (June 16, 1930-October 1, 2018). Other Permanent Secretaries that suggested that were Prince Festus Adesanoye, who later became the Osemawe of Ondo in Ondo state, Prince Solomon Akenzua, who later became the Oba of Benin, Alhaji Tatari Ali, Alhaji Ibrahim Damchida, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, Chief Phillip Asiodu, Alhaji Abdulaziz Atta, Mr. T. Eneli, Alhaji A. Mora, Mr. H.O. Omenai, Alhaji Sule Kolo, Mr. S.S. Waniko, Chief S. O. Williams, Chief G.E. Ige, Alhaji Musa Daggash, Chief Edwin Ogbu, Chief A.I. Obiyan, Chief C. O. Lawson, Chief T.O. Akindele, Chief V. Adegoroye, Alhaji Liman Ciroma, Chief J.T. Iyalla, Chief B.N. Okagbue, Chief Ime Ebong, Chief  Gray Eromosele Longe, Chief J.A. Adeyeye, Biliaminu Oladiran Kassim, Alhaji  Umaru Sanda Ndayako, Alhaji Shehu Musa, M. A. Ejueyitchie, and others.

Reflecting on the creation of states before he died, Chief Ayida wrote “I was the chairman of the Committee of Federal Permanent Secretaries that submitted the list of criteria to be used for the creation of states to General Gowon. He deleted from the list the reference to ‘linguistic principles’. The exclusion of the ‘linguistic principles’ is crucial because the twelve states structure established by Decree by General Gowon would have been significantly different if linguistic affinity were one of the criteria used. General Gowon argued that the application of the principle would have led to absurdities in many parts of the country notably the Benue-Plateau area and the Bendel State. Besides, it would have meant increasing the size of, rather than splitting, the former Western (Yoruba) Region and what became the East Central (lbo) State. The subsequent adjustment to nineteen states would ipso facto, have yielded different result under the late General Murtala Muhammed who personally opted for twenty-four states, with twelve in the South with the restoration of the former Federal Territory of Lagos, and the rest of Lagos merged with Ogun State excluding a new Ijebu State.

No nation can rise to greatness without observing elementary respect for human dignity in all we do.

The establishment of the new Cross River State was a foregone conclusion as recommended by the Irikefe Panel, whose report was never published because what some communities said of others are unprintable, especially if they have to continue to live together as neighbors in one state in one Nigeria. The powerful lobby of the new state from Calabar over-played its card by insisting that if its capital were not retained in Calabar but moved to Ikom as proposed by lrikefe, they would rather not have a new Calabar State. Their wishes were endorsed twice by the Supreme Military Council by a majority decision after an unprecedented reconsideration the day after the first decision. The case for the new Calabar State was lost partly because the Katsina lobby had as an afterthought, decided that Kaduna State should be split if the Cross River State was split. Since the Kaduna case was not submitted to the Irikefe Panel, the ‘linkage effect’ was to kill the two initiatives to be resuscitated together at a later date.

It is harmattan madness to consider a 50 states structure for Nigeria unless words have lost their meaning but the current nineteen is an accident of history. If it is to be adjusted, the upper limit should not exceed the Murtala Muhammed range of twenty-four states. We assume it is very difficult to reduce the number of Governors even for a military administration. We also assume that the states will not wither away nor will the structure of the state be abolished by a unification decree a second time.

When we look again at the factors which influenced the decline and fall of individuals, nations, and empires in history and compare the excesses of some of the Nigerian leadership in our lifetime, one marvels at the goodness of the Almighty that Nigeria has survived to date. I am sure about what we have done right to keep the country going in the past but, to continue to survive, we have as a nation to satisfy the following necessary conditions: Equal opportunity for all citizens in education, employment, and all matters relating to law enforcement (federal character should not be applied only where it is convenient or beneficial to the ruling class, neither should it be used as the pretext for enthroning mediocrity; when applied in good faith, it can bring the best from every part of the Federation, although the contrary seems to be the case from our recent history). Respect for Life and Property: Until the Governments and their agencies display sufficient respect for life and property, the individual citizen is being given a license to kill and maim and deprive others of their rights to property and existence. This is one area where orderly society has collapsed and Nigerians have descended to the lowest ebb of human degradation. No nation can rise to greatness without observing elementary respect for human dignity in all we do.”

On this basis, General Yakubu Gowon promulgated the decree of 1967 titled STATES CREATION AND TRANSITION PROVISION. Let us take a look at the decree that created the states at that time.

THE FEDERAL MILITARY GOVERNMENT hereby decrees as follows: For section 1 (5) of the States (Creation and Transitional Provisions) Amendment, Decree 1967 there shall be substituted the following new subsections— of section 1

_ “(5) All existing law, that is to say, all law which, whether being a rule No. 14. of law or a provision of an Act of Parliament or of a Law made by the legislature of a Region or any other enactment or instrument whatsoever, which was in force in the Region out of which a State was created immediately before the commencement of this Decree, shall affect such State, subject to the modifications necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of this Decree. (6) For subsection (5)-above “a Law made by the legislature of a Region” means in the case of Lagos State any enactment in force in the former Federal territory (not being an enactment of general application throughout the Federation) and a law of the legislature of former Western Nigeria in force in those parts of Western Nigeria now forming part of Lagos State under subsection (1) of this section and in the case of each of the other States law of the legislature of the Region out of which such State was created, including any enactment having effect as if it were enacted by the legislature of the Region.

The country has a long history of well-articulated demands for states

For the avoidance of doubt, any such law having effect as a law made by the legislature of the Region may be amended, repealed, or otherwise dealt with in the prescribed manner as if it were an Edict enacted by the Military Governor or: Administrator of the State in question.”

  1. This Decree may be cited as the States (Creation and Transitional Citation and Provisions) (Amendment) Decree 1974 and shall be deemed to have come to commence into operation on 27th May 1967.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Decree enables a Military Governor or Administrator of a State to modify or, as the case may require, amend or alter certain enactments and laws having an effect in a State as laws made by the Legislature of a former Region (not being enactments of general application throughout the Federation) as if they were Edicts enacted by the Military Governor or Administrator of a State.

THE FEDERAL MILITARY ‘GOVERNMENT hereby decrees as follows —1—(1) The Constitution of the Federation is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part A of the Schedule to this Decree. (2) The Constitution of former Northern Nigeria as in force in the following States, that is to say, the North-Western, North-Central, Kano, North-Eastern, Benue-Plateau, and the Kwara States, is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part B of the Schedule to this Decree. —

(3) The Constitution of former Eastern Nigeria as in force in the South-Eastern and Rivers States is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part C of the Schedule to this Decree. (4) The Constitution of former Eastern Nigeria as in force in the East-Central State is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part D of the Schedule to this Decree. (5) The Constitution of the Western State is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part E of the Schedule to this Decree. (6) The Constitution of the Mid-Western State is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part F of the Schedule to this Decree. (7) The Lagos State (Interim Provisions) Decree 1968 is hereby amended to the extent set out in Part G of the Schedule to this Decree.

  1. This Decree may be cited as the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree 1974. Amendments of the Constitution of the Federation.

(a) The existing section 97 shall be renumbered as subsection (1) of that .section and immediately after the subsection as so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections “(2) There shall be a Secretary to the Federal Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the Federation and whose office shall be an office in the public service of the Federation. (3) The Secretary to the Federal Military Government shall be appointed by the Head of the Federal Military Government. (4) The Secretary to the Federal Military Government shall be responsible for the coordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the Federation and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government. (6) Immediately after section 147 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:— “(2a) The Commission shall not exercise any of its powers under subsection (1)of this section in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries or departments of the government of the Federation as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Head of the Federal Military Government except after consultation with the Secretary to the Federal Military Government.”

Part B – Section 1 (2)

Amendments of the Constitution of former Northern Nigeria as in force in the North-Western, North-Central, Kano, North-Eastern, Benue-Plateau, and the Kwara States

(a) The existing section ’44 shall be renumbered as subsection(1) of that section and immediately after the subsection as so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections:— (2) There shall be a Secretary to the Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the State and whose office shall be an office in the public service of the State. (3) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be appointed by the Military Governor. (4) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be responsible for the coordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the State and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government.” — (b) Immediately after section 67 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:— “(2a) The Commission shall not exercise any of ‘its powers, under subsection (1) of this section in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries or departments of the government of the State as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Military Governor except after consultation with the Secretary to the Military Government.”

Part C  Section 1 (3)

Amendments of the Constitution of the former Eastern Region as in force in the South-Eastern and Rivers States .— (a) The existing section 44 shall be renumbered as subsection(1) of that

section and immediately after the subsection. as so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections:—, (2) There shall be a Secretary to the Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the State and whose office shall be an office in the public service of the State. (3) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be appointed by

the Military Governor. (4) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be responsible for

the co-ordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the State and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government.”(6) Immediately after section 64 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:—“(2a) The Commission shall not exercise any of its powers under subsection (1) of this section in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries or departments of the government of the State as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Military Governor

except after consultation with the Secretary to the Military Government.”

Part D Section 1 (4)

Amendment of the Constitution of the former Eastern Region as in force in the East-Central State

(a) The existing section 44 shall be renumbered as subsection(1) of that section and immediately after the subsection has so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections:—

(2) There shall be a. Secretary to the Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the State and whose office shall be an office in the public service of the State.

(3) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be appointed by the Administrator.

(4) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be responsible for the coordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the State and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government.”

(b) Immediately after section 64 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:-— -,

(2A) The Commission shall not exercise any of its: powers under subsection (1) of this section in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries or departments of the government of the State as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Administrator except

after consultation with the Secretary to the Military Government.”

Part E  Section 1 (5)

Amendments of the Constitution of the Western State

(a) The existing section 42 shall be renumbered as subsection (1) of that section and immediately after the subsection as so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections:—

“(2) There shall be a Secretary to the Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the State and whose office shall be an Office in the public service of the State.

(3) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be appointed by the Military Governor.

(4) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be responsible for the coordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the State and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government.”

(b) Immediately after section 63 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:— .:

“(2A) The Commission shall not exercise any of its powers under subsection (1) of this section in respect of. such offices of heads of divisions -of ministries or departments of the government of the State as may from time to time be designated by an .order made by the Military Governor –

except after consultation with the Secretary to the Military Government.”

Part F  Section 1 (6)

Amendments of the Constitution of the Mid-Western State

(a) The existing section 42 shall be renumbered as subsection (1) of that section and immediately after the subsection as so re-numbered there shall be inserted the following new subsections: “(2) There shall be a Secretary to the Military Government who shall be the head ‘of the public service of the State and whose office shall be an office in the public service of the State. (3) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be appointed by the Military Governor. (4) The Secretary to the Military Government shall be responsible for the coordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the State and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government.” (b) Immediately after section 62 (2) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:— (2A) The Commission shall not exercise any of its powers under subsection(1) of this section in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries and departments of the government of the State as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Military Governor except after consultation with the Secretary to the Military Government.”

Part G Section 1 (7)

Amendments of the Lagos State (Interim Provisions) Decree 1968 (a) Immediately after section 3 there shall be inserted the following new section:-—

3a.—_(1) There shall be a Secretary to the Military Government who shall be the head of the public service of the State and the Military whose office shall be an office in the public service of the State Government.(2) The Secretary to the. Military Government shall be appointed by the Military Governor. (3) The Secretary to the. Military Government shall be responsible for the coordination of all activities of ministries and departments of the government of the State and for ensuring the efficiency of the functioning of the machinery of government.”

– (6) Immediately after section 5 (3) there shall be inserted the following new subsection:—

“(3a) The Commission shall not exercise any of its powers under subsection (1) above in respect of such offices of heads of divisions of ministries or departments of the government of the State as may from time to time be designated by an order made by the Military Governor except after consultation with the Secretary to the Military Government.”

In his broadcast to the nation on May 27, 1967. General Gowon declared “to this end therefore I am promulgating a decree. I propose to act faithfully within the Political and Administrative
Programme adopted by the Supreme Military Council and published last month. The world will recognize in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.
I have ordered the reimposition of the economic measures designed to safeguard federal interests until such a time as the Eastern Military Government abrogates its illegal edicts on revenue collection and the administration of the Federal Statutory Corporations based in the
East.
The country has a long history of well-articulated demands for states. The fears of minorities were explained in great detail and set out in the report of the Willink Commission appointed by the British in 1958. More recently there has been extensive discussion in Regional Consultative Committees and Leaders-of-Thought Conferences. Resolutions have been adopted demanding the creation of states in the North and Lagos. Petitions from minority areas in the East that have been subjected to violent intimidation by the Eastern Military Government have been widely publicized. While the present circumstances regrettably do not allow for consultations
through plebiscites, I am satisfied that the creation of new states as the only possible basis for stability and equality is the overwhelming desire of a vast majority of Nigerians. To ensure justice,
these states are being created simultaneously. To this end, therefore, I am promulgating a Decree which will divide the Federal Republic into the Twelve States. The twelve states will be six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Eastern Region, the Mid-West will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the Western Region, and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western Region will otherwise remain as it is.
I must emphasize at once that the Decree will provide for a States Delimitation Commission which will ensure that any divisions or towns not satisfied with the states in which they are initially grouped will obtain redress. But in this moment of serious National Emergency, the co-operation of all concerned is essential to avoid any unpleasant consequences.
I wish also to emphasize that an Administrative Council will be established at the capitals of the existing regions, which will be available to the new states to ensure the smoothest possible
administrative transition in the establishment of the new states. The twelve new states, subject to marginal boundary adjustments, will therefore be as follows: North-Western State comprising Sokoto and Niger Provinces, North-Central State comprising Katsina and Zaria, Kano State comprising the present Kano Province, North-Eastern State comprising Bornu, Adamawa, Sarduana, and Bauchi Provinces, Benue/Plateau State comprising Benue and Plateau Provinces.
Lagos State comprising the Colony Province and the Federal Territory of Lagos, Western State comprising the present Western Region but excluding, the Colony Province, Mid-Western State comprising the present Mid-Western State, East-Central State comprising the present Eastern Region excluding Calabar, Ogoja, and Rivers Provinces, South-Eastern State comprising Calabar and Ogoja Provinces, Rivers State comprising Ahoada, Brass, Degema, Ogoni, and Port Harcourt Divisions.
The states will be free to adopt any particular names they choose in the future. The immediate administrative arrangements of the new states have been planned and the names of the Military Governors appointed to the new states will be gazetted shortly. The allocation of federally collected revenue to the new states on an interim basis for the first few months has also been planned. The successor states in each former region will share the revenue until a more permanent formula is recommended by the new Revenue Allocation Commission. Suitable arrangements have been made to minimize any disruption in the normal functioning of services in the areas of the new states. It is my fervent hope that the existing regional Authorities will co-
operate fully to ensure the smoothest possible establishment of the new states. It is also my hope that the need to use force to support any new state will not arise. I am, however, ready to protect any citizens of this country who are subject to intimidation or violence in the course of the establishment of these new states.
My dear countrymen, the struggle ahead is for the well-being of Nigerians’ present and future generations. If it were possible for us to avoid chaos and civil war merely by drifting apart as some people claim that easy choice may have been taken. But we know that
to take such a course will quickly lead to the disintegration of the existing regions in conditions of chaos and disastrous foreign interference. We now have to adopt the courageous course of facing the fundamental problem that has plagued this country since the early 50s. There should be no recrimination. We must all resolve to work together. I hope that those who disagreed in the past with the Federal Military Government through genuine misunderstanding and mistrust will now be convinced of our purpose and be willing to come back and let us plan and work together for the realization of the Political and Administrative programme of the Supreme Military Council and for the early restoration of full civilian rule in circumstances which would enhance just and honest and patriotic government. I appeal to the general public to continue to give their co-operation to the Federal Military Government; to go about their normal business peacefully; to maintain harmony with all communities wherever they live; to respect all the directives of the Government including directives restricting the movements of people while the emergency remains. Such directives are for their own protection and in their own interest.
Let us, therefore, march manfully together to alter the course of this nation once again for all and to place it on the path of progress, unity, and equality. Let us so act that future generations of Nigerians will praise us for our resolution and courage in this critical stage of our country’s history. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

ERIC TENIOLA, A FORMER DIRECTOR AT THE PRESIDENCY WROTE FROM LAGOS.

Author: Ifah Sunday Ele

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