State creation: Why S/East demands equity – Ben Obi

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BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
AT a time that many observers are saying that most states of the country are not economically viable, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, has stressed the need to create more states in the South-East geo-political zone, to address a lingering inequity and disequilibrium in the polity.

Responding to a question on why the South-East was asking for an additional state, Obi, who spoke weekend at an award ceremony organised by the Association of Anambra State Development Unions (AASDU) for distinguished Anambra citizens in Apapa, Lagos, said: “South-East is not asking for an additional state.

Sen. Obi

The South-East demands! “You see, that is the mistake; when you are talking about an additional state, it is a different matter. The South-East has to be brought into equity, into fairness in this country. Until you do that, the issue of extra state is a disequilibrium in the system. You should balance it first and then you can now talk about extra state here and other. That is the truth.”

Among the six geo-political zones, the South-East with five states is the least. The remaining five have a minimum of six states. The North-West has seven states. The North-Central has six states and if the Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is included, it would be seven.

Igbos and 2015

Asked the preparedness of the Igbo for the 2015 presidential election, the former lawmaker, who made case for independent candidacy in the on-going constitution amendment, said: “For me, 2015 is two and half years away. Those who want to run should go about making their arrangements, but it is a long time and it is starting early in the day. The answer is go and get your structures, when your structures are built, when you get to the bridge you can cross the bridge. It is not a moon tale outing. It is a serious issue.”

On Boko Haram’s readiness for dialogue with the Federal Government, the 2007 vice presidential candidate of the Action Congress, said as much the negotiation is welcome, government could not negotiate with preconditions like releasing all Boko Haram members being held in detention

“We have been calling for dialogue. In a situation where you have uprising there is need to jaw -jaw. I think if they are truly and seriously interested in dialogue, we should engage them in dialogue.

You don’t place conditions before security agencies. If a man is a criminal and has been arrested for criminality you don’t tell people to release them, it is not their duty. You go to court and let the court release them. But they want to engage in dialogue, yes they should be engaged in dialogue not with any precondition,” he said.

Other Anambra citizens honoured with awards alongside Obi included Professor Peter Chigozie Nwilo, Dr Joseph Odumodu, Dr Ekwenze Anadili, Hon Uche Ekwunife, Chief Paul Odenigbo, Mr Godwin Ezeemo, Mr Donatus Agupusi, Engr Augustine Emelobe, Chief Daniel Chukwudozie, Emeka Oranugo, Mr Eberechukwu Nwosu, Dr Mike Ezeagu, Mr John Nwosu, Peter Obih, James Ezeifeoma and Chief Sebastin Umeobi.

Speaking at the event, the Guest Speaker, Professor Ray Okafor, a statistician, tied the problems of the country to inaccurate data, arguing that government policies were based on rough estimates and projections.

To address the problem, he canvassed statistical federalism where every state government would have a statistical agency because “there is a lot of data to be collected from the wards up to the state level. Here is no state government that has an agency in the mould of the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS and that is sad.”

Earlier, Lagos AASDU Chairman, Chief E.I Anyadike, said the award was for people, who had been successful in selected areas and were therefore “role models through their businesses, career or community service or philanthropy.”

On his part, the Chairman of the ceremony, Dr Obiora Chukwuka, urged Anambra indigenes to pay more attention to education because “the best you are doing today can be better with more touch of education.”

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