By Onesimus Enesi
The Movement for National Reformation led by Chief Anthony Enahoro has proposed the political restructuring of Nigeria into 18 geo-political and administrative regions.
In a publication released in Benin recently by the Directorate of Publicity of MNR, the regions will be either a federation of some contiguous and homogenous ethnic nationalities or, mono-ethnic nationality in federation with its sub-nationalities. An example of this arrangement is the Yoruba nationality, which constitutes a region grouping all Yoruba-speaking areas of Nigeria together, with the sub-groups such as Egba, Ijebu, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, etc., as Provinces of the region.
Other criterion used for the creation of a region shall be the availability of adequate mineral and economic resources, which shall be explored in consonance with the functions of the regions as obtained under the Macpherson Constitution of 1951.
It is also proposed that each region must have adequate human resources to run its own affairs and, as such, a region must have a population of not less than one million people.
To ensure that true federalism is enthroned, each region would also have their own constitutions, while the nationalities and/or sub-nationalities shall constitute a unit of government as “provinces” of the region and whose territorial powers shall exceed those of local government councils but lesser than those of a region.
In a somewhat revolutionary proposal, the country shall have 18 regions divided into three, i.e. Northern Nigeria shall have three regions, namely, Hausa Nationality, Kanuri Nationality and the Fulani Nationality. Central Nigeria known as the Middle-Belt shall have three mono-nationality regions, namely, the Nupe, Gbagyi and the Tiv.
The rest of the Middle-Belt shall constitute three multi-national regions, namely, the West Middle-Belt Region, the Central Middle-Belt Region and the Eastern Middle-Belt Region. This brings to 9 the number of regions in the pre-1967 but defunct Northern Region.
The Southern Regions shall also have 9 regions, comprising of six mono-nationalities of Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Ibibio, Urhobo and Edo, while there shall be three multi-national regions comprising of the ethnic groups of Rivers and Bayelsa States as one region; the ethnic groups of Delta State as another region, and ethnic minority groups of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States as yet another region.
The total number of regions will thus be 18, which suggests equity in the same manner as the first exercise in state creation in 1967, which the Gowon administration carved out twelve states with six in the then North and six in the South.
Provision is made in the proposed Union of Nigeria constitution for any group wishing to have a region to get same, but after twenty years of the advent of the 18 regional structure. This is to allow for stability in the system and also to have enough length of interaction as to determine whether or not the group requesting for a separate region really could not co-habit with other groups in their present region.
As a democratic group, the MNR proposed also that no nationality may form or be part of more than one Region and, if any dispute should arise, it shall be resolved by referendum among the populace concerned.
It will be recalled that at a recent meeting of the Union Steering Committee of MNR, the elder statesman urged his members and the country to embrace genuine dialogue with both the proponents and opponents of restructuring and national conference so that both sides may have a clearer understanding of MNR’s proposals.
Said he: “The challenge of ethnic diversity – in some cases even strong sub-ethnic diversity within an integral ethnic group and the challenges of religious diversity – in some cases even strong sectarian diversity within the same religious group – are two major ingredients in crises in Africa and abroad today.
Unfortunately, both forces are vigorously at work in Nigeria; hence we must recognize that stability, progress and the prospects of democracy and equitocracy in our country – indeed the very survival of Nigeria – depend on the solution of our ethnic and religious diversities.”
Concluding, he said that “it has been said that Nigeria is like a volcano waiting to erupt. Only dialogue, peaceful negotiations and imaginative prescriptions at various levels can change this inflammatory predicament. Our Movement must seek to urge these views on as many forums as possible and as loudly and continuously as we can.”
It is, therefore, in the light of the above earnest urge that the MNR, in furtherance of the noble goal of Nigeria’s unity and the greater goal of justice and equity, now proposed the 18 regional structure.
Chief Enahoro, who in 1953, first moved a motion for Nigeria’s Independence, has taken the lead again by giving Nigerians issues for debate that may lead to the emergence of Nigeria as a truly strong, united and progressive federation, a model for Africa.
Culled from Our VISION magazine, March/April 2002
Federation of Middle-Belt Nationalities – 1
Federation of Middle-Belt Nationalities – 2
Proposed Restructured Middle-Belt