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Creation of new states: The Constraints


Failure of many states having in place democratically-elected council administration, one of the vital conditions in section 8 (1) of the Constitution for creation of new states, may have scuttled the move in the amendment process by the National Assembly.

Many governors who are by law should set the machinery in motion for council elections are not forthcoming on conducting the polls. Instead, many local councils are run by caretaker committees. A new Constitution is, however, expected to take off in July. Deputy Senate President, who is also Chairman of the Senate Constitution Review Committee (CRC), Senator Ike Ekweremadu, made this known at an interactive session with Correspondents in Abuja yesterday.

Section 8 (1) reads: “An Act f the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new state shall not 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 if the following, namely: (1) 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; and (d) the proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of each house of the National Assembly.”

Ekweremadu said: “Most states of the federation have caretakers heading local councils while traditional rulers only fulfilled one part of the constitutional recommendation without taking cognizance of the remaining conditions.”

He said that it is not enough to table demands for state creation in the National Assembly, adding that in addition to the above demands, sitting parliamentarians of those agitating for new states must also sign the demand.

His words: “People think they will come to Abuja and submit memorandum and the National Assembly will deliberate on it and then subsequently announce that so and so states have been created.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. What happens is that you have to receive requests pursuant to section 81 of the Constitution. ‘That section 8 (1), I will like all of you to go and read it, because it is going to be a major debate by the time we start debate on amendment of the Constitution.

When we received requests, those requests must, as a matter of constitutional requirement, have the signatures of two-thirds of the local government council of the affected area requesting for the state.

“What has happened now is that, our traditional rulers, out of the love for their people, quickly signed requests for creation of states and came to submit them in Abuja without looking at what the Constitution says.

They are not the ones who should be signatories; it has to be parliamentarians. “My own understanding of the Constitution is that, it is not just going to be parliamentarians, but a serving parliamentarian, that is sitting members, not those who were members in 1960. That is one of the details people have avoided in making these requests. So, this is one of the constraints.

Meanwhile, Ekweremadu reiterated that the CRC report, which would be tabled before the Senate this week, is subject to debate at plenary and whatever decision is taken in the chamber, is binding. “The issue of the constitution amendment is one of them and by the grace of God, we have gone a long way.

I believe that God willing, by this week, we should be laying on the table the report of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Recall that we created time line when we started.

Our objective is to ensure that by this time, we should be able to be laying on the table, probably have a discourse and pass it at the Senate, and then we should be able to push it to the House of Representatives and the state Assemblies respectively,” he said.

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