The National Conference on Thursday voted for the creation of 18 more states in the country.
The creation of new states was one of the decisions taken by the delegates at their plenary while considering the report of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government.
Apart from the 18 new states proposed, the conference said a separate state-yet-to-be named should be carved out of the South-East to bring the number of the states in the zone to six.
In creating a new state from the South-East geopolitical zone, the conference said the creation would correct the imbalance of the zone having the least number of states.
In the existing 36 states arrangement, each zone has six states with only the North-West having seven states.
The new states proposed by the conference are: Aba, to be carved out of the present Abia State; Katagum, from Bauchi State; Ijebu, from Ogun State; Amana, from former Sardauna Province; Apa, from Benue State; Anioma, from Delta State, Savannah, from Borno State; and Etiti, from South-East.
Others are Njaba/Anim, from Anambra and Imo states; Gurara, from Kaduna State; Ghari, from Kano State; Adada, New Oyo from Oyo State; Orachi, from Rivers State; Ogoja, from Cross River State; and Kainji, from Kebbi and Niger states.
Two other states, one each from the South-East and South-West zones, are also yet to be named.
It was agreed by the delegates that the 18 new states would be shared among the six zones in a manner that no zone would have more states than the other.
Though it was also agreed that states were free to have their constitutions, the request to change the name of Adamawa State to Gongola State was overwhelmingly rejected by the delegates.
The delegates also voted that the Presidency should rotate among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
They said the rotation should be between the northern and southern regions.
It was also agreed by the delegates that in the case of death, impeachment or incapacitation of the President, the deputy would no longer assume office automatically.
Rather, they said that the Vice President should only act as President for a period of 90 days within which another election should hold.
“In the absence of the death of the President, the Vice President shall act as President for a period of 90 days within which an election to the office of the President shall be held,” the conference said.
The delegates argued that since the office of the President would be rotated among the six geopolitical zones, it would be unfair to allow the Vice President to take the turn of another zone by automatically assuming power.
President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner from Bayelsa State, had assumed the Presidency in 2010 following the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner from Katsina State.
The delegates rejected the proposal that the President should be in office for a single term of six years, and favoured the present arrangement of two terms of four years each.
It was also agreed that the President and his deputy should run on a joint ticket, thereby rejecting the recommendation that the President should pick his deputy among members of the National Assembly after he must have won.
The conference also supported the bicameral legislature. This implies that there would still be the Senate and the House of Representatives.
It was also agreed that the office of the governor should rotate among the three senatorial districts in the state while the office of the chairman of a local government council should rotate among the components in the local government areas.
The conference also recommended that that the Independent National Electoral Commission should divide each council to two or three equal parts as the case maybe for the purpose of electing the local government chairman.
The delegates rejected a motion that the number of states in Nigeria should not be more than 55.
However, a delegate, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, condemned the decision to create more states.
He said the action was at variance with the decisions and resolutions earlier taken by the conference on the need by government to cut cost.
“Having regard to the several resolutions of the National Conference on the need to reduce the cost of governance, I found the recommendation for the creation of additional 18 states rather contradictory,” Falana said.
The conference also said that a referendum should be conducted in each of the states that want to merge with 65 per cent of the eligible voters in each of those states approving merger and that the National Assembly, by resolutions passed by a single majority of membership, should approve such merger.
On the running of local governments, the delegates said that states were free to create or reduce the number of local governments within their territory.
It was agreed that all government officials must use made in Nigeria cars.
The conference also agreed that the old national anthem, “Nigeria we hail thee…” should be adopted in place of the current one.
Probably to show their preference for the old anthem, all the delegates rose to sing it to the surprise of the leadership of the conference.
Another delegate and a SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome, who spoke to one of our correspondents after the plenary, said, “I stand by the recommendation; we have recommended that 18 more states and an additional state should be created for the Igbo, they are the only one with five states.
‘‘With 54 states I believe that government would be brought closer to the people.”
However, a Nigerian Bar Association presidential aspirant, Mrs. Funke Adekoya, SAN, said, “I don’t think that creation of more states will solve the problem of underdevelopment. I don’t think that it will solve the problem of bureaucracy in the society. What I think we should focus on is the delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians. I don’t support creation of more states.”