Ignoring Abuja, our Federal Capital Territory (FCT), there are thirty-six (36) states among the six (6) “informal” geo-political zones in the country, which means that on average, each geo-zone has six (6) states. However while the North-West geo-zone actually has seven (7) states in its embrace, the South-East zone has only five – while all the other four zones have six states each.
This “inequity” (a la South-East) is largely the basis for the agitation of one more state for the South-East by the South-Easterners.
It is NOT a valid agitation.
First, the geo-zones are NOT constitutionally recognized, and secondly clearly the inequality/inequity will NOT be solved anyway by the creation of an additional state just in the South-East, unless simultaneously two of the states in the North-West agree to merge, or failing that, two more states are created in the South East, while one more state each is created in all the other states, while the North West is left at status quo ante.
Besides, quite frankly, neither the landmass or the population of the South East or the homogeneity of the Igbo people of the South-Eastern geo-zone recommends this additional state — just look at the map of Nigeria, and the incredibly short distances between the capital cities of the South-Eastern states.
What is fair is fair.
Now, objectively, the creation of more states does not mean a bigger national economic pie. Rather given a set pot of pie size X (say trillion naira), previously divided among 36 states will now be divided among 37 states. For the 7-state geo-zone of North West, this means 7*(1/36 – 1/37)/(1/36)*100 or 7*2.7% or 18.9% reduction in economic pie. For the new 6-state geo-zone of SE, a (6/37-5/36)/(5/36)*100 or 16.8% increase in the pie, and for each of the other four 6-geozones, it would be a 6*2.7% or 16.3% reduction.
This is therefore a deal in which ONLY the South-East gains economically, despite equality of states with four other zones.
It is a bad deal for all but one.
Now suppose we divide the X pie on the basis of EQUALITY of zones, so that each got X/6. Then, the 7-zone North West would get X/6 instead of 7X/36 – or 14.3% reduction – at least less than 18.9%. the South-East will make a 20% increase if it remains at 5 states – which would be MORE than 16.8%. On the other hand, each of the six-state zones would have zero change – yes zero.
It is therefore not a bad deal for all but one.
But before I leave…..
For existential reasons, all the Southern States support the new geo-political federating-unit arrangement – except unwisely, the South-East would settle for one additional state in that stead. The North-Central would be able to shake loose of the Northern hegemony – in some sense. Four out of six is mathematically better than one out of six – and that is what will benefit Nigeria.
More reason why we should all go for the geo-political arrangement…
And there you have it.
Prof. Aluko is Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Otueke