We should reduce states to 12 – Yakasai
Elder statesman Alhaji Tanko Yakasai yesterday said the 36 states of the federation should be merged and trimmed to 12 for effective administration and economic prudence.
Yakasai, a delegate under the platform of the elder statesmen, said this at the plenary while commenting on President Goodluck Jonathan’s inaugural speech.
“As part of the effort to change the situation for the better, we should reduce the number of states in the country. Although, admittedly this is very difficult task to undertake it is my belief that we can revert to the 12 states structure which we successfully operated for about 9 years without any adverse effect on the country,” he said.
He said that the original case for the creation of states was for minorities to attain rights of self determination and be free from domination by larger ethnic groups. There is no logical reason for people having the same culture, language and religion to be separated just for the sake of playing politics.
“For instance, there is no earthly reason for the separation of Kebbi and Zamfara from Sokoto, Gombe from Bauchi, Anambra from Enugu, Osun from Oyo, Bayelsa from Rivers and others,” he argued.
He suggested that legislature should be made a part time work, adding that “By so doing, we would reduce the cost of legislative work considerably as against the present situation where legislative work is said to cost 25 percent of the federal recurrent expenditure.”
Yakasai also advocated for “the semi parliamentary system being practiced by most of our neighbouring countries whereby the prime minister who should be an elected member of the parliament will be responsible for the day to day running of the affairs of government and dominate his cabinet ministers from his colleagues within the parliament.
Talking about national census, the elder statesman said the North has been more populous compared to the South even before amalgamation in 1914.
Quoting from a book titled: “1963 Population Census: Critical Appraisal” by I.I Ikanem, an indigene of present day Akwa Ibom state, published in 1973, Yakasai said even before the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria, the first population census held in 1911 showed that the Northern protectorate outnumbered the south and the colony of Lagos.
He said out I6, 054, 000 total estimates of the two protectorates and Lagos colony, the North had 8,120,000 (51 percent); the East had 4,500,000 (28 percent), while the West and Lagos 3,360, 000 (20.9 percent) and 74, 000 (0.5 percent) respectively.
He said that this meant the South had 49 percent while the North had 51 percent.
He said in 1921 Census, of the country’s total population of 18, 720, 000; the North had 10, 560, 000 (56 percent), the East 5,110, 000 (27.3 percent); the West had 2,950, 000 (15.8 percent); and Lagos 100, 000 (0.5 percent).
He said in 1931 Census, the country’s population was 20,056, 000. Of which the North had 11, 440, 000 (57 percent); East 4, 540, 000 (22.7 percent); West 3,940,000 (19.6 percent) and Lagos 126, 000 (0.7 percent).
The elder states man added that by 1952/1953 Census, Nigeria’s total population was 30, 402, 000. The breakdown shows that the North had 16,835 (55.4 percent); East 7,215,000 (23.7 percent); West 6,085,000 (20.1 percent) and Lagos 267, 000 (0.8 percent).
Reacting to those calling for the United Nations to come and conduct census in the country, he said these same census exercises were not conducted by Nigerian but the British.
Retired General Alani Akinrinade (left) with Oba Olugbenle Kehinde at the conference.