36 States
36 States

First there were 3 regions, then 4, then 12 states, then 19, then 21, then 30, and now we have 36… and the cries for fractionation continue, with a constitutional provision to perpetuate the cycle of fictional ‘creation’ of new states from old. Without an extra inch of territory since Northern Cameroon joined the union and Bakassi left, we have added states like an obese bureaucracy addicted to its fix of recurrent expenditure.

Yet, what if we had lived an alternative conventional wisdom that worked for better bureaucracy rather than more? That campaigned for cleaner government, rather than nearer? That fought for more efficient regions rather than smaller states?

What if, instead of some 700 commissioners, we had 60? What if instead of the hundreds of SAs and SSGs and HoSs, and the thousands of identical, idle agencies across the country we had a handful of potent, efficient technocracies?

What if instead of 9% we spent 50% of our national budget on capital expenditure?

What if instead of our thousand state house of assembly members (with their SAs Prados, perks, ‘constituency allowances’…) we had a hundred? What if instead of their N6 billion annual salaries, we paid a few million?

What if instead of the tens of thousands of retired permanent secretaries whose pensions are irregular we had tens of thousands of retired assistant permanent secretaries whose salaries are regular?

And what if instead of 91% of our national budget going to Recurrent Expenditure, (with many states owing salaries and some primary school teachers having forgotten the sound of a bank alert) we had spent trillions of naira over the past decades on infrastructure, on roads, schools, housing estates, not fat allowances?

But no. The madness continues. 19 more fictional states stand in the wings on Confab recommendations, set to bring the tally to 54. And the 9% of the budget spent this year on Capital Expenditure is set to shrink further. Nobody stands back to see the big picture: that a pie cut 54 ways is still a single pie. That a state is not a local government – we have 774 of those also, close to a thousand chairmen, tens of thousand councillors (don’t get me started!) – and that the solution to Bad, Corrupt, Inefficient Governance is Good Governance, not More Bad, Corrupt, Inefficient Governance.


3 Replies to “One More State, Anyone?”

  1. Agu Imo says:

    Chuma, why are we really like this: Is it idolatory? Is it greed? Or is it this federal structure run along unitary lines, where the centre dictates all, and the component parts have no control over their resources and therefore this silly resort to this monthly sharing formulae.

    What is it that makes ordinarily rational beings think the way we do? We can’t manage 36 states, yet we want more! Bottom line is a proper restructuring of this nation into a proper federation of federating units. A return to the regional structure and devolution of all but totally necessary powers to the regions. The derivation formula should return to the pre-1966 status. This way, there will be little or nothing to share, and all persons will be encouraged to develop their human resources, which is the plank of real development, the world over.

    1. Chuma Nwokolo says:

      I suspect that the Gowon government’s 12 state structure was designed to break up the regional affiliations that divided the country and drove the civil war. Unfortunately the infernal concept of ‘Geo-political zones’ has come home to roost and regional affiliation is alive and well. I think good governance is what will douse the most rabid ethnic and regional sentiments: the realisation that the dividends of democracy arrive by Good Governance trains, not by Ethnic Jingoism buses.

      Sadly, the decision makers who can make the right decision can profit personally by making the wrong decisions. Until the Bribecode comes into force we will not find that critical mass of competence and public spiritedness in public service to take the right decisions.

      But it will come.

  2. George Jean says:

    Nigeria might divide again..I just hope that this Buhari and his administration do not fail to deliver and still try to stay in power as it is linked and associated with APC and is also their likely behaviour in power..There,Igbos and other associates of the then ‘RESISTANCE’ will remember that the man is not even from our tribe and will be introduced to the thought of another Nigeria..That,by God’s grace will not happen.


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