The party did not believe in the conference. When it took over the government in 2015, it thrashed the recommendations of the conference. Despite pontificating on restructuring in its manifesto, APC openly demonstrated its aversion to restructuring.
The 2014 National Conference, convened by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, was a step towards restructuring Nigeria. But, the All Progressives Congress (APC), with Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as National Leader, boycotted the conference, which brought together 492 Nigerians from all walks of life, including non-politicians and people living with disability, to dialogue on the way forward for the country. The party announced through Lai Mohammed, its Interim National Publicity Secretary (as he then was), that it would not attend the conference. Obviously, APC did not see any reason to plot the graph for a new Nigeria through the conference. It would rather that Nigeria was pulled “from top to bottom”, a project it has successfully delivered.
However, one of the conference’s decisions was the physical restructuring of Nigeria into 54 states with the creation of 18 additional states and a mayoralty out of the Federal Capital Territory. That meant Abuja was to be administered by a mayor elected by the people, not a Minister appointed by the President. It was also to have its parliament elected by the people. This answers the long-standing demand of the injustice meted out to the original inhabitants of the entire territory carved out to become Nigeria’s capital territory.
For emphasis, the states created by the conference out of the 34 requests for new states are Aba, Adada, Anioma, Amana, Apa, Edu, Etiti, Ghari, Gurara, Ijebu, Kainji, Katagum, New Oyo, Njaba-Anim, Ogoja, Oil Rivers, Ose-Akoko, and Savannah.
Aba State was to have its capital at Aba with Aba North, Aba South, Isiala-Ngwa North, Isiala-Ngwa South, Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East, and Ukwa West as local government areas. Adada state was to have its capital at Ukehe with Igbo-Etiti, Igbo-Eze North, Igbo-Eze South, Isi-Uzo, Nsukka, Udenu, Uzo-Uwani as constituent local government areas. Also, Amana, which was to have its capital at Mubi, had Hong, Madagali, Maiha, Michika, Mubi North, and Mubi South as local government areas.
Anioma was approved with its capital at Asaba. At the same time, Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East, Ika South, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Oshimili North, Oshimili South, Ukwuani were listed as its approved local government areas. On the other hand, Apa state was created out of the present Benue state with Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu, Ohimini, and Oturkpo as its local government areas but with the capital at Oturkpo. Edu state, which capital city was Bida, was also to have Agaie, Bida, Edati, Gbako, Katcha, Lapai, Lavun, and Mokwa as local government areas.
Etiti state was also carved out southeast with its capital at Lokpa-Nta while Afikpo-North, Afikpo-South, Aninri, Awgu, Ehime Mbano, Isiukwuato, Ivo, Ohaozara, Oji River, Okigwe, Onicha, Onuimo, Orumba-North, Orumba-South, Umunneochi were carved out as constituting local government areas. Ghari state, with its capital at Dambatta, has Bagwai, Bichi, Dambatta, Dawakin Tofa, Gwarzo, Kabo, Kunchi, Makoda, Rimin Gado, Shanono, Tofa, and Tsanyawa and, Gurara state with capital at Kachia would have Chikun, Jaba, Jema’a, Kachia, Kaduna South, Kagarko, Kajuru, Kauru, Lere, Sanga, Zango-Kataf as local government areas.
There was also to be Ijebu state which would have its capital at Ijebu-Ode with Ijebu East, Ijebu North, Ijebu North East, Ijebu Ode, Ikenne, Ogun Waterside, Odogbolu, Remo North, Shagamu as local government areas as well as Kainji State which had Agwara, Borgu, Dango/Wasagu, Fakai, Kontangora, Magama, Mariga, Mashegu, Ngaski, Sakaba, Shanga, Rijau, Yauri, Zuru as local governments and Zuru as the capital city. Katagum state was also created with Azare as the capital and Damban, Ganjuwa, Giade, Itas/Gadau, Jama’are, Katagum, Misau, Shira, and Zaki as local government areas, while the New-Oyo state with its capital at Iseyin was to have Afijio, Atiba, Atisbo, Irepo, Iseyin, Itesiwaju, Iwajowa, Kajola, Ogbomosho North, Ogbomosho South, Ogo Oluwa, Olorunsogo, Orelope, Orire, Oyo East, Saki East, Saki West, Surulere as local government areas.
The conference also approved Njaba-Anim state with capital at Orlu with Ideato North, Ideato South, Ihiala, Isu, Njaba, Nwangele, Nkwerre, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, and Oru West as constituent local government areas as well as Ogoja state which had Bekwara, Boki, Etung, Ikom, Obanliku, Obubra, Obudu, Ogoja, and Yala. Its capital was to be at Ogoja. Oil Rivers state was also created with Ahoada as capital and Abua/Odual, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Akuku Toru, Andoni, Asari-Toru, Bonny, Degema, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Opobo/Nkoro as local government areas. Next was Ose-Akoko state, with its capital at Ikare and Akoko North East, Akoko North West, Akoko South East, Akoko South West, Ose, Owo, while Savannah state, with its capital at Biu and Askira/Uba, Bayo, Biu, Chibok, Damboa, Gwoza, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar, Shani as local government areas making up the list.
The most interesting thing about the physical restructuring was the opportunities it created for Nigerians. That aspect of the restructuring of Nigeria created opportunities for massive employment in civil services of both the new and old states as well as in local government administrations. Even where Nigerians may not be interested in civil and public service jobs created, they would also find new opportunities in private sector businesses that, as a necessity, must expand into the new states and local government areas.
It was also new opportunities for developments and investments in all aspects of business, private proprietorships in construction, real estate, transportation, schools, trading, market development, airports, healthcare provision, private security firms, etc. That singular decision also offered opportunities for the demand for skilled and unskilled labour in the state and local government areas. It was about the rapid development of Nigeria.
The decision also resolved the question of states’ equality among Nigeria’s geopolitical zones. Currently, the southeast still has five states, the northwest has seven, and all the others have six. Resolving this, as the 2014 confab did, offered every geopolitical zone equal representation in the National Assembly with an equal number of local government areas. But APC boycotted it.
The party did not believe in the conference. When it took over the government in 2015, it thrashed the recommendations of the conference. Despite pontificating on restructuring in its manifesto, APC openly demonstrated its aversion to restructuring. It even bluntly refused to look into the reports of its own committee, chaired by Nasir el-Rufai, on restructuring.
The failure of the APC government to see the job opportunities inherent in the decision to create additional states as local governments as per the 2014 national conference decision, to a large extent, contributed to the increase in the unemployment index in Nigeria, now at over 33 percent from the 4.56 percent in 2014. This also has a direct bearing on Nigeria’s poverty index. I always disagree with the argument that Nigeria may not have the financial resources to run the new states. Common sense says that if the volume of money lost to failed policy implementation, embezzlement, and theft since 2015 were ploughed into administering those 18 states, perhaps Nigeria would have made sensible progress.