The chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, committee on restructuring, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, has said demanding equal states for all the geo-political zones is injustice as it will amount to trying to make “the unequal equal”.
The governor said this on Wednesday while speaking at an interactive session with Nigerian youth in Abuja.
Some Nigerians have demanded that all the six zones have equal number of states as a way of restructuring the polity.
Currently, four zones have six states each, while the North-west has seven and the South-east five.
“You cannot come here and say we should create nine states in each zone. Nigeria is not equal in terms of land mass, population, resources etc. so, you can’t do that. It is injustice trying to make the unequal equal.”
Mr. El-Rufai also said that it will be difficult for states agitating for resource control to achieve 100 per cent control of resources in their states.
To him, because states without oil are more, those with oil might not get the required votes in the National Assembly for their wish.
”There is absolutely no way in the Nigeria of today that a state that has oil will have 100 per cent of the revenue. That is not possible because to get that document through, you have to pass it through the National Assembly and in the National Assembly, there are more states that have no oil than those that have oil and so, they will vote it down.”
“So, you better start proposing something that works for the entire country and not just you. Otherwise, it will not help. The greatest injustice you can do is to try to make the unequal equal or the equal unequal.”
The governor also reiterated his previous stance on efficient management of his state’s security votes. He said Kaduna’s security vote is being controlled by the Secretary to the State Government, and he is prepared to open the books for those willing to audit his security votes.
The governor who was responding to questions and suggestions raised by some of the youth said rather than make suggestions that may not be feasible, the youth should find a way of engaging the process after learning from history.
He said agitating for the removal of the Senate will not work because such will require a Senate vote and no one will vote him or herself out.
“When you make recommendation that you want to abolish the Senate, you should know that the Senate cannot be abolished unless the Senate votes to abolish the Senate. Who is going to vote to make himself unemployed?”
“We have a political process and so, we are not over-throwing the government and starting afresh. So, we have to work with what we have in a sensible and pragmatic manner and reform what need to be reformed.”
“When you say create states on the one hand and on the other hand you say cost of governance is too high, you are contradicting yourself. For every state you create, you are adding to the budget of the country. So, you cannot be saying that the cost of governance is too high and yet ask for more states.”
“We must think for once what will be of interest to the country. We must think of what will be of interest to Nigeria because what will work in one part of the country may not work in another. If we don’t think first of what is of interest to all of us before the individuals, we will only have series of conflicting argument without consensus.”
Earlier on Friday, the deputy president of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu said the National Assembly has received 45 memoranda requesting the creation of new states from the existing 36 states of the federation.
He said this at a public lecture organised by a group of lawyers of the South-east extraction in Lagos on Friday.
He said the requests were presented to the National Assembly by various groups from different parts of the country.
Mr. Ekweremadu, who is the Chairman of the Senate’s Constitution Review Committee, said about 34 of such memoranda were intra-state demands, seven inter-state, while four cut across geo-political zones.
To him, minority fears, search for equity, speedy development and quest for political empires and influence by the elite are some of the key factors responsible for the proliferation of states and the agitations for more since independence.
Speaking on security vote and its legality, he said there were misconceptions about security votes, and that security votes were not unconstitutional.
“Go and read your constitution. The state House of Assembly has the power to appropriate anything and security vote is a line charge in the budget and so. It is not illegal. But it is how it is used is the issue.”
“I know of a former governor who used to collect N1.5 billion in cash as security votes and come to Abuja. It has been subject of abuse and that is not how it should be.”
“The idea of security vote is for the governor to have discretionary funds to deal with emergency situations because you don’t know when you will have security challenges and you need money to be able to respond to these challenges.”
“Sometimes, you need money to pay for information and sometimes, you can’t imagine the type of people you pay as informant because armed robbers patronise a lot of places and you need to know what they are planning next. Another use of security vote is to support security agents in the states.”