LINGERING CRISIS OVER LOCAL GOVERNMENT CREATION BY ERIC TENIOLA
There is a lingering problem over the way and manner local governments have been created arbitrarily in this country. The problem became worse under the Military. Some call it Military Nepotism and as it is now, with the 1999 constitution very difficult to amend, it seems we have to live and endure with the problem for a long time.
Before independence in 1960, there were 240 native authorities in Nigeria, the North had 144, the West had 55 and the East had 47.The states we referred to as East had 72 local governments in 1979 while the Zone we referred to as West including Lagos had 60. The states that we group as the old North had 152 local governments in 1979 while the old Mid-Western region which we named as Bendel state had 19 local governments. In total we had 303 local governments.
For example Lagos state had 8 local governments in 1979. And they were Lagos-Island, Lagos-Mainland, Shomolu, Mushin, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Ikeja. The same Lagos State now has 20 local governments according to the 1999 constitution. In 1979, Kano state had 20 local governments namely Kano (Metropolitan), Dambatta,Ringim,Minjibir,Gezewa,Bichi,Dawakin-Tofa,Gwarzo,Tundun-Wada,Rano,Wudil,Dawakin-Kudu,Dutse,Jahun,Birnin-Kudu,Gaya,Hadejia,Keffin-Hausa,Gumel and Kazaure. Now the old Kano state has been broken into two states, Jigawa and Kano state respectively. The present Kano state has 46 local governments while Jigawa has 27 local governments. In short the old Kano state of 1979 now has 73 local governments. Imo state had 22 local governments in 1979. Now Imo state had been broken into Abia and Imo state respectively. Abia state now has eighteen local governments while Imo state has 28 local governments. In 1979, Rivers state had 10 local governments; now Rivers state has been broken into two, Bayelsa and Rivers. Rivers state has 23 local while Bayelsa has 8 local governments. Kaduna state had 14 local governments in 1979, now it has been broken into two Katsina and Kaduna state. Katsina now has 34 local governments while Kaduna has 23 local goverments. Ondo state had 18 local governments in 1979, now it has been broken into Ondo and Ekiti state. The present Ondo state now has 18 local governments while Ekiti has 16 local governments. Ogun state apparently one of the few states, that has not been split had 10 local governments in 1979 namely Abeokuta, Odeda, Obafemi-Owode, Ifo-Otta,Egbado-North, Egbado- South, Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-North, Ijebu-East and Ijebu-Remo. The same Ogun state now has 20 local govenments.
Mid-Western Region was created in June 1973 following an act of the Parliament. The region was renamed Bendel state on May 27, 1967. In 1979, the state had 19 local governments namely Oshimili, Oredo,Okpebho,Isoko,Ethiope, Bomadi, Burutu,Okpe, Warri, Orhionmwon, Ovia,Etsako, Ika, Agbazilo, Owan,Ughelli,Aniocha, Akoko-Edo and Ndokwa. Now the state has been split into two, Edo and Delta states. Edo has 20 local governments while Delta has 25 local governments.
In 1989, we had 589 local governments in Nigeria. We now have 774 local governments. The last exercise on the creation of local governments in Nigeria was carried out by late General Sanni Abacha, in 1995 when he appointed Chief Arthur Christopher Izuegbunam Mbanefo (86) as the Chairman of the panel. Chief Mbanefo, a Chartered Accountant later became Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Secretary of the panel then was Dr. Adamu Fika, now Chairman of the the National Assembly Commission. Other members of the panel were Mrs Adefemi Abeke Taire nee Williams, former Secretary to the Lagos government but married to Chief Torch Oritsewehinmi Taire who died October 15 last year at the age of 81, Chief Kunle Oluwasannmi from Ipetu-Ijesha, Osun State and brother to Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, former Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.
On December 16 1997, General Abacha appointed Chief Oluwasanmi, a former Custom Officer to replace Professor Iyawose Hagher as Minister of State for Power and Steel. The other members also include Mr. El- Nathan from Adamawa state, Alhaji Kofar Katsina, Chief Audu Ogbeh, now Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Kufobai,Obong Umana O. Umana, General Peter Ademokhai(rtd.), former General officer Commanding First Mechanised Division Kaduna.
There will always be constant conflict on creation of local governments in this country as long as states blessed with more local governments earn more than the other states with less local governments.
As a way out maybe we should return to the measure adopted in 1963. Maybe that will reduce conflict just maybe. Section 140 of the 1963 constitution (1) There shall be paid by the Federation to each Region a sum equal to fifty percent of –
(a) The proceeds of any royalty received by the Federation in respect of any minerals extracted in that region; and
(b) Any mining rents derived by the Federation from within that Region
(2) The Federation shall credit to the Distributable Pool Account a sum equal to thirty per cent of —
(a) the proceeds of any royalty received by the Federation in respect of minerals extracted in any Region; and
(b) any mining rents derived by the Federation from within any Region.
(3) For the purposes of this section the proceeds of a royalty shall be the amount remaining from the receipts of that royalty after any refunds or other repayments relating to those receipts have been deducted therefrom or allowed for.
(4) Parliament may prescribe the periods in relation to which the proceeds of any royalty or mining rents shall be calculated for the purposes of this section.
(5) In this section”minerals” includes mineral oil.
(6) For the purposes of this section the continental shelf of a region shall be deemed to be part of that region.
141.—There shall be paid by the Federation to the Region at the end of each quarter sums equal to the following fractions of the amount standing to the credit of the Distributable Pool Account t that date, that is to say—
(a) to Northern Nigeria, forty ninety-fifths;
(b) to Eastern Nigeria, thirty-one ninety-fifths;
(c) to Western Nigeria, eighteen ninety-fifths;
(d) to Mid-Western Nigeria, six ninety-fifths.
142—Each Region shall in respect kin respect of each financial year pay to the Federation an amount equal to such part of the expenditure incurred by the Federation during that financial year in respect of the department of customs and excise of the Government of the Federation for the purpose of collecting the duties referred to in section 136-139 of this Constitution as is proportionate o the share of the proceeds of those duties received by that region under those sections in respect of that financial year.
ERIC TENIOLA, A FORMER DIRECTOR AT THE PRESIDENCY, STAYS IN LAGOS.