So much has been said about the creation of a new state in the south eastern part of Nigeria that it now looks as though it has become a persistent outcry for something that should really not have required such prolonged attention before it is given the attention it deserves.
Some might even begin to wonder if there is any sense in creating another state in the south east when the current states on ground still require a lot of work to attain the level of a well-run state. Some could even come up with diverse reasons to justify leaving the number of states as it is, citing seemingly reasonable opinions; yet the reasons for the creation of a new state in the south eastern part of Nigeria are enormous and cannot be over-emphasised.
They span the length of governance, distribution of resources across various spheres of governance, infrastructural development, and so on.
Take governance into consideration, the ratio of lawmakers produced by the region to those from produced from the other geopolitical zones, is a pointer to one of the ways that the zone is being short-changed. Each state is usually expected to produce three senators per state to represent the people of state at the senate house. As a result of having just five states, this translates to the south east region producing just 15 senators across the 5 different states as against the 18 or 21 being produced by other regions where they have six or seven states. This certainly reflects in the representation of the south east in the National Assembly as well as portrays a level of the structural injustice and artificial marginalisation experienced by the south eastern states.
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Another major area being affected by the less number of states in the south east is the uneven distribution of resources which in turn affects the economy of the region as a whole. A look into the federal government allocation to states shows that the more the number of states in a region, the higher the cumulative amount of allocation the region is entitled to. Over the years, a look into the possible amount in federal allocation that would have been benefitted by the region if there was an extra state, already runs into about 420 billion naira. Now imagine the effects that this amount would have had on the region if this amount of funds were churned into the economy of the region. It would have affected infrastructural growth positively and impacted massively into the economy of the region.
All of these contribute to the factors that inspire and encourage the move by some disgruntled Nigerians of Igbo descent, who make up the majority of the south east to embrace the thought of secession in the first instance.
Sometime in 2018, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) Worldwide, after considering the dire implications of being shortchanged that the zone faced in diverse ways, decided to appeal to the ten president of the country to consider employing the use of an executive order to ensure that another south eastern state is created. This was a result of the realisation of how dire the situation was turning out to be.
There have also been outcries by various well-meaning Nigerians in the past in support of the creation of a new south east state. As recently as April 2022, the then deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu took to channels television to air his views in support of the creation of a new south east state. In 2021, it was the then governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike who lent his voice to the outcry by the people of the region calling the situation “unfair” to the region and its people. Presidential aspirants in time past have also included it as one of the things they intend to carry out on becoming president in their bid to appeal to the people and garner votes from them. This is a great pointer to the fact that it has always been glaring that a new state needed to be created in the region. This has however not seen the light of day.
This proves that a new state certainly needs to be created in the region, which then brings us to the question, ‘which part of the southeast should this state be created from?’
There has been quite a mention of possible areas across the different states in the south east where the new state should preferably be carved out from. There have been suggestions that a part of Enugu state should form the new state. Infact, in 2006, it was reported that the new state should be called Adada state according to Maj. Gen. Godwin Ugwuoke (rtd). However, from recent research, one would see reason to come to a conclusion that Mbaise in Imo state should rather become the part to form the new state.
Mbaise is a region in Imo State in the southeastern part of Nigeria. It is located right at the heart of Igbo land, fielding several towns and cities. The approximate population density of the city stands at over a thousand people per square kilometer, making it the most densely-populated area in West Africa wielding approximately 611,204 people as its population as of 2006.
Mbaise currently serves as the umbrella for three major local government areas, they include; Ahiazu Mbaise which is a result of a merger between Ahiara town and Ekwerazu town; Aboh-Mbaise which was created after the western part of Ezinihitte Was carved out and added to Agbaja; and Ezinihitte. This puts quite a number of people across three different local governments being joined to create a state; very logical when compared to simply making one local government area forming a State.
Mbaise has an even greater population than Orlu which stands at 420,600 in population.
Over the years, the Mbaise people have been known to appreciate and pursue education hence becoming one of the most educated and successful people in the south east. They were the pioneer leaders who resisted the maltreatment by the British colonial masters.
Mbaise is arguably one of igbos greatest town, no wonder the late Ojukwu planned to situate the capital of Biafra there.
Mbaise has always been a pioneer for greatness among the people of Imo state and the south east as a whole. They boast of well-educated, driven and inspired men and women. The people of Mbaise have somehow over the years managed to exert themselves as intellectuals, creating for themselves a place amongst the elite of the Igbo race and the country in general.
They certainly deserve to have a state to call theirs.