An Urgent Appeal to Northern Politicians for the Creation of New States
Atlanta, U.S., December 14, 2012—We, the people of Southern Kaduna in the Diaspora (SOKAD), appeal to our Northern governors and legislatures to support state creation, particularly those in the political offices of the North –Western Zone, and more so, those from Kaduna State. This should be in words and actions. In particular, to our governor and law makers, politicians, from Kaduna State, we suggest that you should be actively agitating for the creation of a new state from Kaduna State. The Southern politicians and legislature are united in this quest and so should those from the North.
We make this appeal as the review of Nigeria’s Constitution is underway and the legislature has embarked on testing their constituencies’ opinion on the issue.
We want to state, without reservation, that SOKAD supports the splitting of Kaduna State into two. Kaduna state politicians have their work cut out for them, because unlike in the past, there is a consensus in the state about a new state. Southern Kaduna is unanimous in wanting a Gurara State and Northern Kaduna, wants a state too.
We are troubled by the position that some of our elderly state persons in the north have taken on the state creation debate. We referenced the statement attributed to our dear former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon at the just concluded conference on December 5, 2012, in Kaduna, that state creation should be resisted. It is an unfortunate and ill-advised position; it is wrong and a disservice to the marginalized northern ethnic groups, particularly those from Southern Kaduna, who have suffered neglect since amalgamation.
Those who are against creating new states, posit these arguments:
- It adds to administrative and bureaucratic costs, and the country does not have the revenue for that.
- It is an endless agitation for more and more states.
- New states will not solve the security problem facing the country.
The counter arguments are these:
- Freedom from discrimination and from political, religious, and economic marginalization has no price tag. A people would rather be free and poor, than otherwise.
- Nigeria does not have a revenue problem. It has waste, mismanagement, and a corruption problem. It is simply a convenient excuse to not create new states and not solve those problems.
- If creating a new state will add to the cost of governance, the solution is to trim our bureaucracy and reduce bureaucratic waste, not to deny what the people desire. Does Nigeria need the legislative and administrative structures that wealthy nations, such as the United States, have? True, representative democracy is costly, but Nigeria does not have to copy the U.S.
- In reality, when government is closer to the people and they are given access to it, corruption and administrative wastes are minimized. All we need to do is reduce the power of the central government and empower states and local governments.
- The fear of endless agitation for new states should not overshadow genuine demands for new states. We shouldn’t throw away the baby with the bath water. A careful sociological and anthropological examination of our current 36-state composition will reveal that some ethnic-religious groups who are demanding new states should be granted because of economic, political, and cultural reasons.
- The opponents of creating a new state claim that creating more states will not solve our security problem. When they make this claim, they usually don’t elaborate on it. What is our national security problem? Corruption is first and foremost. Next, religious intolerance, as exemplified in the unbridled pogrom by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group that has been terrorizing the north (particularly in Bauchi, Kaduna, and the Plateau states) for years. Then, the perennial ethnic clashes, of recent in Benue, Kaduna, and Nassarawa states. And finally, kidnapping. Those who are agitating for new states are not of the illusion that new states will eliminate all the forces of our security problem. But, they believe it will help to reduce the religious and ethnic factors contributing to our regional and national security challenges.
Every person has the moral and natural right for self-determination, freedom, economic, and cultural security. Those who have submitted memoranda demanding new states should be considered for new states. In doing so, administrative costs should not be the major and primary factor, but the cultural identities and aspirations of the people. There are no people more deserving of a state than the Southern Kaduna people. They have always wanted to be free from marginalization, and be given the opportunity for self-determination and development, since the creation of regions. But they have been bypassed each time new states were created.
In 1967, General Yakubu Gowon began state creation when his administration deconstructed regional structure and created 12 states. The main reasons for doing so were to free eastern minorities from Igbo domination and win the Nigeria-Biafra war. It worked then, and it should work now for people of Southern Kaduna (and any other ethnic-religious minority) who are marginalized and facing ethnic-religious cleansing. New states will help.
Dr. Likita Aminu ( President, SOKAD-USA)
Dr. Freeman Kamuru (Secretary General, SOKAD-USA)
Mr. Ibrahim Maikori (Treasurer/Financial Secretary, SOKAD-USA)
Mr. Filmon Raman (Chairman, SOKAD-Canada)
Mrs. Esther Simon (SOKAD-Canada)
Ms. Magang Sule (SOKAD-Canada)