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OYO 101: Okeogun State And The Fantasy Of State Creation! | Muftau Gbadegesin

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As the rest of the country grapples with extreme heat and excruciating hardship, two important regions of Oyo State comprising Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun are busy sweating over imaginary State creation and its prospective and potential State capital. For one, fighting over an idea whose possibility is shrouded in legal and political considerations underpins misplaced priority. In part because additional States creation is a long, arduous, chaotic, and in a democratic setting, an unrealistic idea – at least, based on history.

Plus, any smart political observer can hazard a guess that a state creation bill will always hit a brick wall of resistance – if it fails to capture and reflect the diverse agitations of the people – like the one being proposed. For instance, “Politicians don’t create States” aphorism has become a street lingo often deployed to calm the fraying nerves of any state-creation-advocates. But like a cat with nine lives, optimists who see state creation as the end to their long-suffering in the country will never heed. Right after Independence, Nigeria experimented with regionalism but over time, the country’s political trajectory morphed into a far more complex, expensive, and unsustainable system. Examples abound on how both the military and their civilian counterparts ran the country aground — amassing stupendous wealth to the chagrin of the people. On its part, the Khaki boys with 36 years under their belt ruled with high-handedness, iron fist, and unbelievable impunity while constitutional immunity was framed by politicians to bypass and sideline the various laws they swore to uphold – while in office.

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In a way, the creation of twelve states in 1967 by the military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon for instance, had one aim in mind: to crush BIAFRA secessionist agitation. And by 1970, that masterstroke had worked – like magic. Surprisingly, confounding reality about state creation starting from 1967 (12 states) to 1976 (7 states), to 1987 (2 states), to 1991 (9 states) up to 36 in 1996 had been done by the various military decrees. In essence, no civilian government has had the gut to damn the consequences of State creation – President Goodluck Jonathan did try through the National Conference but was defeated at a poll that could have given him the chance to change the course of history. I will speak more on this subsequently.

The bill generating hot debate between the elites of Ogbomoso and some commentators from Oke-Ogun was sponsored by Hon. Oluwole Oke, lawmaker representing Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency, in Osun State. Consequently, the contentious bill seeks to carve out three states from Oyo, Ogun, and Osun leaving the rest of the country with similar agitations and aspirations in a quandary. “A proposal for the establishment of three new states in the South-West has been scheduled for introduction in the House of Representatives” reported prominent national dailies on the 13th Feb, 2024. The suggested legislation, the reports continued aims to establish separate States namely Oke-Ogun, Ijebu, and Ife-Ijesa. Of course, the last Straw that broke Carmel’s back was the choice of Iseyin and not Ogbomoso as the proposed capital for the new state.

“The proposed bill seeking the creation of Oke-Ogun state with Iseyin as the capital is lacking in depth and understanding of the political history of Ogbomoso land nay Oyo State”, Dr. Akin Oladeji John-brown, President of Ogbomoso Recreation Club told journalists. “Listing Ogbomoso as a town in the proposed Oke-Ogun State is very insulting and uncalled for”, he fired. First off, there are many things wrong with the bill draft, the content, the context, urgency, and of course the unguarded statement credited to Dr. Akin Oladeji John-brown. Drafting a bill on state creation for a particular geo-political zone is counterintuitive. The narrow-mindedness of the bill is itself counterproductive. Think of a pack of cards that will simply collapse at the slightest hint of wind. How do you want the bill to scale different hurdles when the vast majority of lawmakers who will consent to it are left out? I want to believe Hon. Oluwole Oke is not been sincere and serious with his pursuit. He seems to be a sort of legislator adept at whipping up sentiment and division. Ultimately, a cursory and careful look at history is enough to guard and guide our steps in state creation. Let’s face it: state creation has been with us right from amalgamation!

And the truth is that more states will only intensify and fragment our fragile unity and stability. More states in other words equal more problems. Incidentally, proposing a bill on state creation is a cosmetic approach to the myriad of challenges confronting our country. More states are never enough. After a series of calls for a national conference that will proffer solutions to the problems of Nigeria, then President, Goodluck Jonathan eventually bowed to pressure. With a N7 billion budget, and 492 delegates, the 2014 national conference was a splash! In addition, the talk show also churned out a staggering 900-page document that scratch the problems of Nigeria on the surface. Highlights of the conference included recommendations for additional states, change of the country’s national anthem, devolution of power, and resource sharing, among others.

Aba, Adada, Amana, Anarriba, Anioma, Apa, Edu, Piciti, Ghari, Gurara, Ijebu, Kainji, Katagum, New Oyo, Njaba-Anim, Ogoja, Oil Rivers, Ose, and Savannah were the 18 proposed States. Back in 1996 when States like Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarawa and Zamfara, agitation for the creation of New Oyo state for instance was also in the pipeline. Thus, the creation of a new state out of the existing Oyo without drawing from history will be a ruse. Of course, Nigeria belongs to everyone and no part should feel bigger than the other.

To be clear, do we need additional states at a time when people are clamoring for a return to regionalism? And more important is what we need between an effective system and an over-bloated government. The response to the proposed bill for the creation of Oke-ogun by Dr. Akin Oladeji John-brown, President of Ogbomoso Recreation Club is one big reason any efforts toward the actualization and realization of state creation whether in New Oyo or Ogoja will always be undermined.

OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com and 09065176850.

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