But, why are we like this?
Why is our nationhood predicated on falsehood?
Why are we a nation where demographic data are always doctored, or skewed, to give fiscal advantage to certain regions?
Why are our national data, statistics, historical records, etc all fraught with half-truths and untruths?
Why is it almost a taboo, in our country, to question or investigate long-held, but doubtful, historical records? Thus, making myths to be easily passed down as historical events.
Why are we a country where national planning, budgets and distribution of resources are often done based on fictitious statistics?
Why?! Why?! Why?!
A case in point.
Official documents suggest that the Igbos are a distant 3rd largest ethnic population in Nigeria.
This is as laughable as saying that Kano is more populous than Lagos.
Few human settlements in Nigeria can boast of not having someone of Igbo extraction either selling provision, spart-parts, or an adulterated, fake or substandard product.
Besides, anyone who has done a bit of travels, within Nigeria, would attest to the fact that the most densely populated areas in Nigeria can be found in the eastern region of the country.
So, it’s rather curious and suspicious too, that the Igbos are counted the least amongst the major ethnic groups.
Even in Lagos, their numbers intimidate the Oba!
Yet, some of these questionable demographic data have persisted in our national history for so long a time.
Now, here is the painful part.
The Nigerian youth – who are supposed to be more discerning and intellectually sophisticated – swallow these diabolical statistics hook, line and sinker.
But, of course, this comes as no surprise. The youth have been gagged and blindfolded by a culture of ethnic and regional chauvinism.
And, for Christ sake – this is 2015!
How hard can it be to put an end to these outrageous manipulations of a country’s critical data?
Anyway, all hope is not lost.
There is technology to the rwscue.
Yes. Technology is here to help us out of this man-made “national disaster” that we’ve brought upon ourselves.
Specifically, biometric technology.
So, we all agree that the use of biometric technology significantly minimized rigging during the last general elections, right?
Then, nothing should stop us from using the same technology to minimize the “rigging” of enumeration figures during the next census exercise.
The benefits of deploying biometric technology for an enumeration exercise are numerous. And they include:
One. Double or multiple entries can be spotted and eliminated.
Two. “Ghost citizens” can be eliminated.
Three. Of course, this technology does not accept entries of cows, goats and fowls.
Four. It’s a way around extreme cultures and religions that insist that some of its practitioners must not be seen, but counted by proxy, or in absentia.
It’s high time we dispelled some of these long-promoted “national lies”.
It’s high time we found out how many we truly are in Nigeria, and how the population is accurately distributed.
It’s high time resources are distributed equitably.
It’s high time that there is a fair representation of every region at the National Assembly.
However, one thing you can be sure of is this; the northern oligarchy – using the northern legislators – will vigorously oppose this idea.
Chief Festus Odimegwu, during his brief stint as the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), squealed that there had been no credible census in Nigeria, even before independence.
According to him, “No census has been credible in Nigeria since 1863. Even the one conducted in 2006 is not credible. I have the records and evidence produced by scholars and professors of repute. This is not my report. If the current laws are not amended, the planned 2016 census will not succeed.”
This long over-due revelation would turn out to be his greatest undoing.
The Northern establishment exploded in righteous indignation, and called for his head on the guillotine.
Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, the governor of the biggest beneficiary of Nigeria’s enumeration fraud, Kano, called him “a drunkard”.
Not long after, and due to pressure from the north, Odimegwu was relieved of his appointment for daring to expose the nation’s best kept secret.
Now, let’s, for a moment, analyze this whole contentious issue of Kano being more populous than Lagos.
Here is what science has to say about population distribution.
In science, it has been proven from demographic distribution patterns across the globe that population increases as we move from the hinterland (desert/Savannah region) to the coastal region.
Curiously, Nigeria is an exception to this scientific theory.
Instead, in Nigeria – the North, which lies in the arid zone, is more populous than the coastal South.
This is the extent to which they have brazenly manipulated all our census reports.
Now, let’s cast our minds back to the last national census exercise in 2006.
Perhaps, if you never had respect for the Yoruba leaders, the events surrounding the 2006 Census exercise is one reason why you should.
Prior to the national enumeration exercise, the sagacious Yoruba leaders – specifically Afenifere and the then Lagos State government – perfectly understood the plot. Nobody, group or institution was going to upstage them by counting the Yoruba race fewer than they are – or how many they wanted to be perceived as.
So, while the Federal Government was planning the nationwide census exercise, the Lagos state government was also planning a parallel census exercise for Lagos state.
Please, be reminded here of one thing: the Nigerian constitution doesn’t permit States to conduct an enumeration exercise. Notwithstanding, this didn’t stop the Lagos state government from conducting one.
At the end of the day, the Federal. Government-coordinated census figure for Lagos stood at 9 million – while Kano was 9.4 million. Thus, officially making Kano state the most populous state in Nigeria.
No Eastern state ranked amongst the first 10 states. Almost effectively reducing the Igbos to a minority ethnic group.
The 2006 national census had other interesting discrepancies extrapolated from its final report.
A classic example.
From the final census report of 2006, it was established that; had the old Sokoto state remained the way it was, before it was split up to become Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi, it would have been declared the most populous state in Nigeria, with a combined population of 11million.
This is why this is noteworthy: the old Sokoto state is a savannah/desert location!
Anyway, the drama of the Census of 2006 didn’t stop there. There are more.
The Lagos state-organized census was shabbily conducted and due to the declared holiday for that period, a lot of Igbos residing in Lagos traveled home (very typical) during the exercise. Regardless, the Lagos state government – magically – arrived at a whooping population figure of 17 million for Lagos; a figure that almost doubled the one propounded by the NPC.
And now, guess what?
While all these inter-regional intrigues played out, the Igbo leaders – notably, Ohaneze N’di Igbo – were sleeping.
And then, of course, there was the legendary apathy of the Igbos to national exercises.
Perhaps, this is why some of us consider some of those agitators on social media screaming “Biafra!” as enormously misguided (a topic for another day).
Sorry. I digressed.
Still on the need for a biometric-based census in 2016, it is on record that the current management of the National Population Commission (NPC) – headed by Mr Eze Duruiheoma, had approached President Buhari on the need to use biometrics for the next census exercise.
President Buhari is not sold on the idea.
The high cost of the project was his excuse.
According to him, if the NPC needed the biometrics of Nigerians, they should approach MTN, Airtel, and the commercial banks that have a database of biometrics of Nigerians. Sighs.
No country develops without accurate demographic and socio-cultural information.
For accountability, effective policy, national planning, decision making purposes, and equitable distribution of resources and fair representation of regions at the National Assembly, it is imperative that w get our national figures right.
It’s high time that we put an end to the culture of basing national planning and budgeting on fictional figures.
The lies that have characterized our nationhood have been sustained for far too long.
Enough is Enough!
For the next census exercise – and for the sustenance of our unity, it must be biometrics capturing or NOTHING! @EccentricRowland