|Map of the Proposed Okura State|
AN APPEAL FOR THE INCLUSION OF THE PROPOSED OKURA STATE (TO BE CREATED OUT OF THE PRESENT KOGI STATE) AS ONE OF THE THREE STATES RECOMMENDED FOR CREATION BY THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE IN THE NORTH CENTRAL GEO-POLITICAL ZONE.
We hereby congratulate Your Excellency for the successful completion of the historic National Conference, which you convened, as a significant land mark in your effort to strengthen national unity and consolidate democratic governance in our beloved country. The peaceful completion of this noble assignment by the members of the National Conference is a testimony of Your Excellency’s imagination, resourcefulness and determination to positively place Nigeria as one of the most economically, politically and socially vibrant and powerful nations of the world.
There is no doubt, that the cynicisms, which greeted the initial efforts toward the convocation of the National Conference have given way to enthusiastic disposition of Nigerians, as reflected in their call to subject the conclusions of the National Conference to outright referendum. This is a wonderful and unprecedented breakthrough in successive governments’ attempts to create conducive environment for an egalitarian society, full of unbridled and equal opportunities.
Your Excellency emphasized in your inauguration address to the members of the National Conference on 17th March, 2014 thus, “The National Conference is therefore being convened to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the
resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all constituent parts of our fatherland’”. To this statement, the members of the National Conference actually made history, for their courage and patriotic disposition to recommend the creation of 18 additional states to bring the number of states in the country from 36 to 54. The National Conference by that deliberate action has identified one of the major issues needed to assure most Nigerians that they have stakes in the governance of our dear country. It is noteworthy to mention, that other critical areas of our national life received the attention of the National Conference, which has justified the efforts of your administration to convene the Conference at this time in the nation’s history.
Your Excellency, in spite of the foregoing euphoria about the conclusions of the National Conference on its recommendation for the creation of additional 18 states, the Igala and Bassa people of Kogi State, who requested for the creation of Okura State out of the present Kogi State are traumatized and feel upset, as the Conference failed to recommend the creation of their age-long request for the creation of Okura State. It is not clear to us why the National Conference threw out our request, which to us, is more qualified than most state requests recommended by the National Conference in terms of viability, history and the effect of the provisions of Section (8) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
We do not want to bug Your Excellency down on the long and tortuous journey of the Igala and Bassa people in their resolve to have Okura State created before and during the just concluded National Conference, as we attach relevant documents for your perusal but would like to give highlights on the recent events at the National Conference as follows:-
1. The National Conference Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government documented the receipts of the requests for state creation from the North Central geo-political zone as follows:-
(i) Apa State from Benue State;
(ii) Okura and Okun States from Kogi State;
(iii) South Plateau State from Plateau State;
(iv) Edu State from Niger/Kwara States; and
(v) Confluence State from across Edo, Kogi and Nasarawa States.
The receipt of the proposed Kainji State was noted under North West geo-political zone and not North Central geo-political zone.
Apa and Edu States from Benue and Niger States respectively were recommended. Okura State from Kogi State in the same North Central geo-political zone was not recommended. Instead, Kainji State, which was placed under the North West geo-political zone was recommended. This is against the resolution of the National Conference recommendation, that each zone should have 9 States.
To meet with that recommendation, the same National Conference recommended the creation of 2 additional states in the North West geo-political zone, which is currently having 7 states. The recommended states are Gurara from Kaduna State and Ghari from Kano State. The National Conference did not alter the boundary of any geo-political zone in its recommendation. The replacement of Okura State in the North Central geo-political zone with Kainji State is therefore, a predetermined action by some members to mislead the Conference for their ulterior motives, which have compromised the National Conference decision on its recommendation for the creation of 18 additional States.
2. The North Central geo-political zone comprises Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger and Plateau States. Kebbi State is not part of North Central geo-political zone and all recommendations of the National Conference on state creation did not cut across any geo-political zone because the National Conference did not re-draw the boundary of any geo-political zone. We therefore, wonder why the short change in the North Central geo-political zone in favour of Kebbi State, which is in the North West geo-political zone, purported to be in the North Central geo-political zone by deception. Indeed, what this means, is that North Central geo-political zone will have 8 states while the North West geo-political zone will have 10 states.
3. To appreciate our stand on this matter, we wish to show the configuration each of the major demands for state creation in the three states - Benue, Kogi and Niger States. The request for the creation of Apa State covers 9 Local Government Areas out of 23 Local Government Areas in Benue State. Benue State has a population of 4, 219, 244 (2006 Census Figure) and registered voters of 2, 151, 668 (2011). The Local Governments in the proposed Apa State are Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ogbadibo, Ohimini, Oju, Okpokwu, Oturkpo. The Local Government Areas constitute the Benue South Senatorial District with a population of 1, 298, 763 (2006) and registered voters of 612, 248 (2011).
The request for the creation of Okura State covers 9 Local Government Areas out of 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State and Ette (formerly in Enugu State). Kogi State has a population of 3, 278, 187 (2006) and registered voters of 1, 479, 890 (2011). The Local Government Areas that make up Okura State are Ankpa, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela/Odolu, Ofu, Olamaboro and Omala as well as Ette. The Areas constitute the Kogi East Senatorial District with a population of 1, 604, 345 (2006, Ette inclusive) and registered voters of 816, 967 (2011, Ette inclusive).
It is not clear, which areas constitute the proposed Edu and Kainji States in the present Niger State. We are however, aware that the previous request for the creation of Edu State, include Local Government Areas in Niger South Senatorial District namely, Agaie, Bida, Katchia, Lapai, Lavun, Edati, Mokwa, and Gbarko as well as Agwara and Borgu Local Government Areas of the Niger North Senatorial District with a combined population of 1, 455, 429 (2006) and registered voters of 628, 918 (2011). The request for the creation of Kainji State from the same Niger State covers 9 Local Government Areas namely, Kontagora, Mariga, Rijau, Wushishi, Mashegu, Magama, Rafi as well as the same Agwara and Borgu Local Government Areas with a combined population of 1, 417, 192 (2006) and registered voters of 505, 068 (2011).
With the above statistics, what justifies the recommendation of two states in Niger State, if the proposed Kainji State falls within the North Central geo-political zone or one and a half states, if Niger and Kebbi States are to produce the purported Kainji State?
Indeed, the contraptions in Niger and Kebbi States, which purportedly gave rise to the recommendation of Kainji State is a deliberate decision to scuttle the creation of Okura State from Kogi State. From every indication, the proposed Okura State stands out as one of the most viable requests for state creation across the country.
4. We have all along brought this glaring injustice to the attention of the National Conference through members of the Conference, who are indigenes of Kogi State and publications in the media organizations but the anticipated correction was not effected, hence this passionate appeal.
Igala was the 9th largest ethnic group in Nigeria and the richest Native Authority, second only to Kano Native Authority, during the era of Northern Regional Administration. We therefore, feel strongly shortchanged by being denied a State of our own in Nigeria of 54 State structure. Mr. President may wish to know that many old Native Authority Areas, which are now States or recommended to be States, were not capable of competing with the Igala Native Authority in any sphere of development, during the past Northern Regional Administration but have now or will become giants in the structure of Nigerian Federation. This, to us is a conspiracy to make Igala land the most backward area in the country; and the Igala people the most marginalized, maligned and traumatized.
Your Excellency, it is our earnest prayer that you treat our humble appeal with compassion and due consideration to cause the inclusion of the proposed Okura State as one of the recommended States from the North Central geo-political zone and its subsequent creation as one of the federating states in Nigeria.
We make bold to state that, with Your Excellency’s stance in abhorrence and disdain for the suppression of truth, marginalization and injustice in all forms, the Igala people are keeping hope alive as our traducers will soon be crippled by your strong desire to spread the dividends of your administration’s policies to positively affect the well-being of all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, creed, and status. Our future largely lies in the creation of the proposed Okura State. Your Excellency should therefore, make the way for us to realize this objective, which to all intents and purposes is to re-invent our lost glory. MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA UNDER YOUR EXCELLENCY’S LEADERSHIP.
1. List of proposals for state creation by the National Conference Committee on Political Restructuring and forms of Government.
2. Protest letter against failure of the National Conference to recommend the creation of Okura State by Okura State Movement to the Chairman, National Conference dated 7th July, 2014.
3. Paid advert by Ukomu Igala Organization titled; “Failure to recommend the creation of Okura State: Deliberate attempt to marginalize the Igala people” published by The Nation Newspaper issue of 4th August, 2014.
4. Recommendation of the National Conference on the 18 additional states to be created.
5. Letter on the resolution of members of the National Conference from Kogi State on the creation of the proposed Okura State out of Kogi State to the Chairman of the Middle Belt Forum, Professor Jerry Gana dated 14th July, 2014.
6. Proposed Amendment to Recommendation on State creation pp 279-281 Main Report vol. 1 p. 145 of Draft Constitution: and p. 38 of Proposed Bill by the representatives of Kogi State delegates to the National Conference as requested by the National Conference leadership.
Dr. Moses E. Adah Dr. Yakubu Ugwolawo
Chairman General Secretary
Okura State Movement Okura State Movement
Alhaji Ahmed O. Adams
Ukomu Igala Organization