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Opinion

Atiku’s De-Federalisation Agenda, Nigerian University, and New Rays of Disunity

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Dr Aliyu Salisu Barau

 

Dr Aliyu Salisu Barau

1. Yesterday, in response to Atiku Abubakar’s purported statement on de-federalisation of the Nigerian higher education sector if he becomes the next president, one of my friends said: Atiku yara sa kuri’ummu (meaning Atiku has lost our votes). Seeing the backlash, his media guards deconstructed the well quoted statement saying, it was reported out of context and malice. However, the language on the intention to transfer federal tertiary institutions to states is very clear.

2. Let me share the story of my favourite scholar late Ali Mazrui and his encounter with two state governors in the United States. By American racial and class standards, Mazrui as a Muslim, Black, and African is just another other. Yet, Governor Mario Cuomo of New York and his counterpart Governor James Blanchard of Michigan made personal phone calls to convince Ali Mazrui to teach in their states. In fact, the two were almost at a duel point over Ali Mazrui. That’s where state governors know the value of scholars and scholarship. Mazrui decided to be with Binghamton University in NY. Some of the best universities in the US are state-owned e.g. Arizona State University.

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3. Atiku Abubakar’s unhidden tongue slip and spit of incorrectness shows him as a rush-character and potentially a big threat to national unity and integration. The first mistake in the purported statement was that regional universities and higher education institutions were transferred to states after the collapse of the first republic in 1966. I never know the history of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Nigeria Nsukka, or University of Lagos owned and controlled by Northwestern State, Western State, Lagos State or South Eastern State respectively. These universities to the best of my knowledge were retained by the federal government since then and this has continued to date. The same applies to their satellite campuses such as Abdullahi Bayero College (now Bayero University Kano), Advanced Teachers College (now Federal College of Education, Kano), University of Jos, University of Maiduguri and the rest.
4. Is Atiku Abubakar really interested in de-federalising the higher education institutions after winning the 2023 election or selling them to cronies? At the moment, do we have any state governor with indicator-based agenda and vision for education and development? Does Atiku really understand the implications of his statement on national unity and security? One of my trades is on seeing and planning for the future. Hence, I want to simulate what will happen to my university BUK in the event of actualization of Atiku’s de-federalisation agenda.
5. I foresee that when Kano State Governor becomes a new visitor to BUK he will appoint his men into its governing council. The actors in council will one day argue that UK universities such as Cambridge, and Oxford have fragmented campuses. So, BUK’s campus should be decoupled and in that way they will propose to proportion its land to businesses as in the UK. Then, its vast and highly priced landmass will be a kind of Eldorado for the Kano land sharks. Then, youth NEETs (not in education, employment or training) will react simply by kidnapping the new owners or blasting the structures out of frustration with inequalities.
6. Sadly, the de-federalisation agenda will cause serious national disunity. I will eventually miss many of my colleagues at departmental and faculty levels. Many will be harassed, frustrated and intimidated by the state ministry of education or their boys in BUK. Some will be told, ‘look, England is not Scotland’ so better leave for your state. These are possibilities considering the fabric of our social and ethnic chasms.
7. If truly Atiku wants to try his proposed model, why not try with one university, college or polytechnic and allow the model to work for at least ten years to see how it works.
8. On this and more, I think Atiku needs to go tortoise way rather than hare’s.

Dr Aliyu Barau writes from Kano

Opinion

The Benefit of State Creation, By Adnan Mukhtar

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Comrade Adnan Tudunwada
Adnan Mukhtar Tudun Wada

 

 

On July 11, the Senator representing Kano South Sulaiman Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila sponsored a bill for the creation of a new state, Tiga State.

This is not the first time that people from different parts of the country are agitating for the creation of new states in their region.

The call for the creation of Tiga State didn’t start today ,During the regime of Late General Sani Abacha the creation of Tiga state gatheres momentum ,Insiders in the Presidential Villa confirmed that General Abacha have already made up his mind to carve out Tiga state from the present Kano state but due reasons best known to him the Late Head of state announced the creation of Zamfara state from the Northwest on 1st October 1996,even with that the agitation did n not die down , I came across agitators for Tigari State from Kano North and Tiga from Kano South while in Secondary school during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ned Nwoko, a Senator from Delta State sponsored a similar bill for the creation of Anioma State.

Young men like me who are in their early 30s and not current with issues in the country may think that the recent move by Senator Sumaila was the first of its kind.

There were similar requests for the creation of Okura state out of Kogi, Aba from Abia, Hadeija from Jigawa, Katagum from Bauchi, Karadua and Kafur from Katsina, Lagoon from Lagos, Borgu, Kainji and Gurara from Niger and many more.

In 2013, the House of Representatives received more than 50 requests for the creation of new states.

The creation of states began in 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states after abolishing the regional system, General Murtala Mohammed 7 states, General Ibrahim Babangida created 11 states between 1987 to 1991 and General Sani Abacha created 6 states.

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Some young men on social media were criticising the move by the Senator by expressing their pessimistic thoughts that the bill may not scale a second reading or get the assent of the President. They argued that such requests had never given any priority since the return to democracy 25 years ago. The idea of creating more states is dead on arrival.

Some are of the view that such moves require a very long process because constitutional amendment in the country is a very difficult thing.

While states in the country relied on federal allocation to survive, they can’t pay salaries and their internally generated revenue has been very poor; the creation of additional states is adding a burden to the Federal government at this time of economic instability.

Nigerians are facing the most difficult economic condition under President Tinubu. Sadly, the President doesn’t care to address this critical issue by going ahead to purchase a presidential aircraft that’s worth 150 billion dollars although the president has yet to increase the minimum wage, long queues at the filling stations, a bag of rice is close to 100k with a 30k minimum wage; I wonder whether the president is serious enough in attending to this matter of National concern.

Some of the agitators of this are seeking the expansion of platforms for their citizens to utilise their potential under a federal system of government.

It was not a wrong thing to come up with this idea but a constitutional right. I’m sure most of these agitators and bill sponsors are speaking the minds of their people.

Some people are accusing Sumaila of trying to divide the people of Kano. These sets of people are deceiving themselves. The people of Kano South have been crying about marginalisation and being denied the dividends of democracy since 2011.

Abubakar Rimi was from Sumaila in Kano South, he governed Kano in the second republic. Kabiru Gaya governed Kano in 1993 and since then, the people of this zone are yet to be given any chance to govern Kano.

They have also been crying that most of the developmental and infrastructural projects are been centred in Kano Central while abandoning the rural areas.

State creation in states like Kano with 44 local governments will enhance development and bring government closer to the people.

While I support the idea of having more states like in the US, we should put this at the back of our mind states are building blocks for development in the Federal system of government and will boost democratic governance.

Adnan is a political PR consultant, he teaches Islamic History, Culture and Civilization at Federal University Dutsin-Ma. He can be reached at adnanmukhtaradam@gmail.com

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Opinion

The Political Motivations Behind Nigerian State Creation: A Historical Analysis

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Nigeria's Map
Nigerian Map

 

Abdullahi Dahiru

Many proponents of state creation believe that Nigerian states were created for progress and development but history tells us otherwise.

Sarkin Kano Sir Muhammad Sanusi had dispute with the then Northern regional government leading him to abdicate the throne in 1963. Many Kano people were angry with the way the Northern regional government treated Sarki Sanusi and decided to form a pressure group called Kano Peoples’ Party, KPP. KPP agitated for creation of Kano state out of the then Northern region because many Kano people believe the regional government unfairly treated Kano province even though the province contributed revenue to the regional government more than any other province. KPP also agitated for the reinstallation of Sarki Sanusi as the Emir of Kano.

After 1966 military coup, there was tension between the Eastern region and the central government. The governor of the then Eastern region Odumegwu Ojukwu decided to secede from Nigeria to form an independent nation of Biafra. Just 3 days before Ojukwu’s decleration of independence, the head of state Yakubu Gowon abolished the regional governments and created 12 new states. The purpose of the state creation by Gowon was to reduce the power of Ojukwu and get the support of minorities and other sections of the country. Kano province was among the new states created as Kano state partly fulfilling the wishes of the KPP.

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State creation became an important aspect of military rule. Murtala regime created seven more states bringing the total number of states to 19. In 1987, Babangida’s political bureau recommended creation of two additional states to make the total number of states divisible by three, so as to get a perfect number when 2/3 of states is being computed to determine the winner of presidential election. This was to prevent the recurrence of dispute of 1979 election about what is the 2/3 of 19 states. So Babangida created Katsina and Akwai Ibom states in 1987.

Babangida and Abacha created more states in 1991 and 1996 bringing the total number of states to 36. The 1991 and 1996 exercises were done when there were pressures for Babangida and Abacha to handover power to civilians.

During the military regions committees were formed to recommend states to be created when there were plans to do those exercises. The committees receive requests from different groups for creation of states but the ultimate decision was done by the military council. The military do that often to satisfy lobbies from high ranking military officers and powerful Nigerians. It is often not about the people or development.

State creation was easy under miltary regimes since the constitution is usually suspended. A sole administrator is posted to the new state and take up grant given by government. That is very difficult in civilian administrations because of many bottle necks.

Whoever analyses the history of state creation in Nigeria he will know that it is almost exclusively done by military regimes and it is not something done for development or anything but political expediency. The most economically viable Nigerian state has remain a single state since 1967. Civilian administrations have tried several times to create new states without success. Many states that were created are surviving only because of monthly revenue allocation from the Federal Government. Without that federal allocation, they are nothing.

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Opinion

Kawu Sumaila: A Senator in need and indeed, By Adnan Mukhtar

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I forwarded a complaint to Senator Sumaila two weeks ago over the lack of water, school, and basic amenities for the people of Kawuri and Bangashi Villages at Gaya Local Government. I told the Senator that my washerman sent this complaint to me that they have been suffering for decades over lack of water and other basic amenities in their villages. The Senator replied to me with ” Noted Adnan zamuyi abun da zamu iya.”

Kawu swung into action the next day by sending his men to construct two boreholes for each town and assured them of bringing more dividends to them as they requested.

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This is called excellent representation. Doing exactly what will bring rapid development to his zone and Kano State.

Just some weeks ago, the super Senator supported a bill for the establishment of a Federal Medical Centre at Rano, the headquarters of Kano South, which was presented to the House by Rt. Hon Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, and today he is presenting his sponsored bill for the creation of Tiga State. This is a welcome development.

Something that people are not aware of is that the entire members of the House of Representatives from Kano South are united to bring something positive to their people.

People like Rt. Hon Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin are all over bringing the dividends of democracy to their people.

 

Adnan is a university lecturer, lobbyist, and political PR consultant

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