Nigeria’s road to restructuring took an interesting turn earlier this month after the Senate received a request proposing the creation of 20 more states, a situation that would create the need for more Senators, Reps, Governors and more “mouths” on the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
After an online uproar over what most termed as plans to destabilize Nigeria’s restructuring processes by “creating more avenues to waste money on centralization”, the Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru clarified its view on it, stating that its Committee on Constitution Review received several bills demanding for creation of more states.
The Senate Committee added that “the committee, while acknowledging receipts of several bills proposing the creation of new states, decided that it is not in a position to recommend or propose the creation of any state unless there is compliance with the provisions of Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended)”
They added that the process of creating a new state must be an act that has been approved by at least two-thirds majority of members representing the area demanding the creation of the new state in the Senate, the House of Representatives, the House of Assembly and the local government councils.
However, there is no smoke without fire. If proposals have been dropped at the Senate, it basically means that what is needed for creating new states is a proposal for the creation of the state 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, which would later be 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 later on to the National Assembly.
According to a Punch report, the proposed state includes ITAI State from Akwa Ibom State; State status for the FCT; Katagum State from Bauchi State; Okura State from Kogi East; Adada State from Enugu State; Gurara State from Kaduna South; Ijebu State from Ogun State; Ibadan State from Oyo State; Tiga State from Kano State; Ghari State from Kano State; Amana State from Adamawa; Gongola State from Adamawa; Mambilla State from Taraba State; Savannah State from Borno State; Okun state from Kogi State; Etiti State from the South East Zone; Orashi State from Imo and Anambra states; Njaba from the present Imo State; Excision of Aba State from Abia State;’ Anioma State from Delta State; Torogbene and Oil River States, from Bayelsa Delta and Rivers states and Ayajida State from parts of Katsina, Jigawa, and Zamfara states.
Is it a distraction from restructuring?
The calls for restructuring especially in the areas of economy and security have been the most talked-about aspects for state governance. With the rising insecurity and poor fiscal economic situation from the federal government, states are increasingly looking for ways to protect their residents and also fund budgets and projects in the states which the central system leaves less and less for states.
Nairametrics reported in March that Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde called for the delisting of the mineral resource ownership and development from the exclusive list, through a review of the 1999 Constitution in a bid to grant States more economic control through restructuring.
Nigerian states are not earning enough of their capacity, which contradicts proposals for state creation, because the most important questions should be, how can we afford it?
Nairametrics recently reported that The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) shared the sum of N760.717 billion as revenue for the month of July to the Federal, State, and Local Government. The FG revealed that out of the N760.717 billion distributable revenues that were shared, the Federal Government received N325.988 billion, the states received N224.929 billion while the Local Government Councils got N168.424 billion. Also, oil-producing states received N41.376 billion in July as 13% derivation revenue as against the N51.470 billion that was shared in June 2021 as the 13% derivation revenue, representing an N10.094 billion drop.
A proposal to create more states will add more “mouths” to this dwindling source of revenue that is not even enough to cater for the expenses of states in Nigeria’s present fiscal and geopolitical structure.
Joachim MacEbong, analyst at socioeconomic research firm, SBM Intel says, it may not be a distraction from the ongoing restructuring race, citing that “Calls for both state creation and restructuring have existed side by side for decades”
“People have always done both and there’s no reason to think that will continue,” he says.
With the FAAC revenue share model, can Nigeria afford more states?
“No, Nigeria cannot afford more states. It’s plainly obvious,” he says.
“Recent events even indicate that we’re moving gradually to a situation where states are taking responsibility to collect more of the revenue from the economic activity generated in their states. Under that scenario, any new state will have a much different reality to those before,” he adds.
MacEbong adds that the steps required to actually create more states make it very difficult, adding that what we’re likely to see more of is more cooperation between states in the same region.
“We are already seeing greater cooperation on security in the NW, SW and SE. This cooperation is likely to expand into other areas and is the way to go,” he says.
But do we need an economic reason?
In the list of proposed states to be created, one standout name was the “Gurara State from Kaduna South” which for those following events in the region could be seen as a way to reduce the tensions that have plagued the region for years especially with the killings of farmers by herdsmen and bandits, and also recently the abduction of school children. The region also has a demographic uniqueness, representing a good number of the Christian ethnic groups in the state. Sometimes, a cultural reason could trump economic reasons or altogether influence it.
Nigeria in its present structure cannot just afford to create more states economically. The dwindling revenue from the Central Government has seen states fight for more economic control, as recently seen with the battle over Value Added Taxes in Rivers State with the ruling a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that Rivers State should be responsible for receiving Value Added Tax and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in the state, not the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
Nigeria’s unique challenges mean states have more to gain cooperating as regions ranging from economic, security and political factors, which would best serve growth in clusters around the regions, seen with the Amotekun Security operations in the South West and recent calls to ban open grazing by Southern Nigerian states.