1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria is a plural society with different cleavages in terms of ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic, as well as geo-political, social and economic development, but ethnic heterogeneity is inarguably, the most pervasive of them all (Vande, (2012). The development of Nigerian Federalism as a dynamic process can best be understood with reference to its ethnic configuration. Over the years, the process has involved the creation of more States to reduce political domination at the Federal level. It has also involved the attempt by minority ethnic groups to challenge the hegemony of the three largest ethnic groups: Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo in the political, social and economic life of the country, each of which like some of the other ethnic groups, is also made up of a number of sub-ethnic groups (Vande, (2012).
From 1922 to 1960, modern Nigeria passed through series of constitutional and political developments that eventually made her a federation. Within this period, the quest for separate status within the federation also started. In fact, the earliest beginning of the issue of state creation can be traced to 1943 when Nnamdi Azikiwe recommended the division of the country into eight units. Four years later, Obafemi Awolowo recommended ten. The years between 1947 and 1960 witnessed intense agitations of minorities for their own state. In 1951, a movement was established under the leadership of the Oba of Benin, Akenzua II for the creation of Midwest State comprising Benin and Delta provinces. As the agitation was going on, the people of the Middle Belt area also began a call for the creation of the middle-Belt region under the championship of a party called the Middle Belt People’s Party. The minorities in the East were not also left out in the struggle for state creation. The Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers provinces also called for the creation of Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers State (COR) out of the Eastern Region (Ojiako, 1981). This quest for states by the various minority groups resulted from the fear of domination and the need for accelerated economic development.
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PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF STATE CREATION IN NIGERIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF EBONYI STATE AND ABIA STATE