Rep Onuigbo Renews Call for Additional State in South East
Says Inequality of States Puts Zone at Disadvantage Position
With the South East getting the least number of ministers in the present dispensation, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon Sam Onuigbo has renewed the call for additional state in the zone.
He made the call while appearing as a guest on Arise TV News programme discussing how the South East Zone has faired so far in the Bola Ahmed Tinubu government.
Onuigbo, who represented Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South federal constituency in the 9th National Assembly, noted that the South East has continued to be a victim of imbalance and unfair treatment.
He said that the unsavoury situation was a symptom of a foundational issue relating to the imbalance in the number of states allocated to each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The former federal lawmaker hinged the perceived marginalisation of the South East on a wrong foundation in the polity which predates the present administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“That wrong foundation,” he said, “is that the South East is not supposed to have five states” when other zines have upwards of six states.
He pointed out that while the North-West has seven states and four other regions of the federation have six states each, the South East region is stuck with only five states.
Onuigbo argued that this structural imbalance has already placed the South East on disadvantage position even if the ministerial positions were shared on based on the basis of the number states in each zone.
“So even if you are doing a minister per state, South East will still fall short, at least two when compared to the North-West. That is something we are going to address in the near future using a constitutional amendment to be able to create a state at least to balance the South East to have six states,” he said.
Onuigbo noted that while government is a continuity, people in power come and go, hence it is important to create structures that prevent the unfair treatment of any group.
“Now that we have made it clear that this shortfall is not in the interest of the South-East, this time, I am hopeful that we are going to look forward towards achieving that which is in the interest of the South East zone,” he stated.
“Over the years, even when I was in the House of Representatives, we have been making the appeal for an additional state to be created in the South East zone.
“This is because the states and local governments are the things used for the distribution of positions (and resources). But when you have a shortfall from the beginning, that is a major bad foundation that you cannot easily repair,“ Rep Onuigbo added.
While expressing hope that things would change for good, Rep Onuigbo lauded President Tinubu, for showing goodwill by appointing the Chief of Naval Staff from the South East zone, which is a departure from the past.
He noted that in the past eight years the zone was not represented in the appointment of the nation’s service chiefs.
“This administration has started well by ensuring that the South East now has a member among the service chiefs of the armed forces. This is a positive sign,” he said.
The former member of the Green Chamber of the National Assembly further lauded Tinubu for appointing him as the South-East representative on the Governing Board of the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
He said that having shown goodwill to the South East there was need to encourage to do more for the zone and put an end to the systemic disadvantage perpetuated on the zone.
“It is my appeal now to the President, who is a listening President, that as we go forward, that he will be able to look at these appeals made by South East leaders and ensure that the South East is fairly represented,” he said.