President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday has spoken on creation of new states in the country.
He spoke against the backdrop of propositions that creating more states in Nigeria will solve the myriad of socio-political issues facing the country.
Buhari noted that Nigeria cannot afford to create more states.
According to the president, creating more states will increase cost of governance and put pressure on lean government resources.
Buhari spoke at the third national summit of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) on “Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector.” monitored by DAILY GIST on Tuesday.
The summit which had the theme “Corruption and Cost of Governance: New Imperatives for Fiscal Transparency” was held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari said in order not to increase the country’s cost of governance, the Federal Government tries as much not to have too many ministers.
He said, “The rising cost of governance at the federal, state and local government levels is of serious concern. It has been attributed to many factors, not the least of which our federal system of government plays down the number of ministers for the federal cabinet.
“But the number may rise if new states are created, with all the implications of further pressure on government resources. Ministers must have aides (leading to) further consequent costs on the government’s part.”
Buhari added that, “Over the years, government has created many departments and agencies with the aim of achieving social-economic objectives prescribed by the Constitution. The unintended consequences with the creation of new MDAs is widened workforce, duplication of roles and bureaucracy with the attendant increase of cost of governance.
“Reforms are needed, but every reform has inherent costs and pains. The government will strike a balance to maintain social equilibrium, mitigated the pains of reforms and at the same time reduce the cost of governance.”
President Buhari further read the riot act to chief executives and their juniors who contribute to the country’s rising cost of governance by sneaking people into the Federal Civil Service and padding their payrolls, warning that they would be “severely punished” if caught.
“Nonetheless, those who illegally bring in personnel into the public workforce through illegal recruitment, those who pad their personnel payroll and those who retain ghost workers must and will be severely punished,” he warned.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Senate recently gave conditions for the creation of 20 new states being proposed through various bills.
While denying that it had endorsed the creation new states in the country, the Senate said it would only okay the creation of more states if “there is compliance with the provisions of section 8 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic as amended”.
The section provides that a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area; and approval by a two-thirds majority of members of the National Assembly must be met.
“…the Senate Committee is not in a position to propose creation of any state as reported. Rather the committee decided to refer the requests received to the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure compliance with section 8 of the Constitution by conducting referendum in the areas if the requests supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly in the area,” the Senate said in a statement issued by its spokesperson and Chairman, Senate Committee of Media and Public Affairs, Ajibola Basiru, in August.