The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Wednesday remarked that for a long time to come, creation of new states would remain a difficult adventure in view of the rigorous process stipulated by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Although he admitted that state creation was not an impossible exercise, he said any request that failed to comply with the process as spelt out in Section 8(1) of the constitution would fail.
Ekweremadu spoke in Abuja, while receiving a group of elders from his home state, Enugu State, seeking the creation of Adada State from the present day Enugu State.
The elders, led by General Godwin Igwuoke (rtd.), had told Ekweremadu that they were shocked by his recent proclamation that none of the 61 requests for state creation met constitutional requirements.
The elders, who faulted Ekweremadu’s position, said they were bitter by the pronouncement as they insisted that they did not only comply with the appendage of 70 per cent of the signatures of each group of lawmakers from the area to the request, but also ensured 100 per cent compliance.
According to him, all the councillors from the affected area signed; all members of the state House of Assembly as well as concerned members of the National Assembly also signed, wondering how their request failed to meet the requirements.
They also faulted Ekweremadu’s submission that the request was not signed by incumbent lawmakers.
But Ekweremadu explained that before the take-off of the review exercise, members of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution were cautious of expressing vested interest in the matter, saying himself as the committee chairman and an indigene of Enugu State, especially was expected to be neutral, which he tried his best to be.
He also said the drive to ensure the neutrality of members of the committee in the review process prompted the employment of the services of experts, whom according to him, included professors and constitutional lawyers.
Ekweremadu, who disclosed that the committee tasked the lawyers to analyse every request for state creation, pledged that the committee would take note of issues raised by the elders and consider them as he restated his earlier comment that state creation was a continuous exercise.
He also assured the elders that the committee would revisit their request and verify the signatures, noting that once they are found to be genuine, the committee would ask the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a referendum.