By Musa Adamu
Glimmer of hope for a possible creation of more States in Nigeria yesterday resurrected in the Senate, as the chairman Senate Committee on the Review of 1999 Constitution, Ovie Omo-Agege, called on Nigerians desirous of independent states to begin lobby of the lawmakers.
Omo- Agege specifically called on the various interest groups agitating for states creation to reach out to other geo-political zones and their lawmakers.
While giving hope on the possibility of creating new states, Omo-Agege, who played host to the apex socio-cultural umbrella body of Urhobo people in Nigeria: Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), in his office Wednesday, said it is still possible to create new states but with the consent other legislators and groups from other parts of the country.
“Let me also make this clear that the Constitutional Review exercise is not a tea party by any means. It is a very tedious exercise. If you check Section 9 of the Constitution, it lays out a very difficult procedure that you must go through before you can achieve success with respect to the amendment.
“I don’t know what is in your submission but what I hear from the grapevine is that there is likelihood that UPU is asking for a State. If that is right, I am sure you also know the provisions of Section 8 of the Constitution.
“That is even more tedious than every other procedure because unlike other sections of the Constitution that recognises a Constitution amendment bill to pass with two-third majority of both chambers here and two-thirds majority of the State Assembly, for state creation, which is under Section 8, it requires four-fifth of majority. Even more majority than the regular two-third.
“But that is not to say it is impossible. If the demand is genuine and legitimate, there is no reason why it should not succeed. But you have to do the needful. You have to reach out to others. You have to lobby as to why this should be the case. As the Chairman of this committee, I am not supposed to take a position. You have to reach out to people, different geopolitical zones and make your case.
“If they see the merit in your argument, then they could, acting through their members in the House of Representatives and Senate, go with you and vote in support. You have to go out and lobby. You don’t stay at home and they reward you with a free State. It is only in the military that States are created by fiat. But under democratic set up in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the procedures are well laid out under Section 9 of the Constitution”.
He assured the UPU representatives that federal lawmakers from the area would not support anti-Urhobo legislations in the National Assembly.
Earlier, leader of the group and Okobaro of Ughievwen Kingdom, HRM Dr. Mathew Ediri Egbi (JP), Owahwa II said they decided to pay a courtesy call on the Deputy President of the Senate after submitting their memorandum to the Secretariat of the Constitution Review Committee.
He urged the lawmaker to always protect the interest of Urhobos using his position as the nation’s Number Six Citizen.
Meanwhile, the Senate Constitution review committee has extended by 9 days the deadline on submission of memoranda from various interest groups in Nigeria for the exercise.
The extension was due to enormous pressure mounted by various interest groups on the Deputy President of the Senate, who is the Chairman of the Committee.
Memoranda collected by the Secretariat of the committee on Wednesday were those from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Movement for creation of Zuma State out of Niger State, Movement for creation of Savana State out of Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa States.
Others are Yiaga Africa, Okun Development Association, Benue State Government, Concerned Nurses Association of Nigeria, Urhobo Progressive Union, Zontai International etc.