Census 2005: What Makes Nigerians Wary
Hassan S. Indabawa Indabawa20022000@yahoo.com
Ordinarily no one should be wary by the Government?s attempt to conduct a head count exercise. Not so in Nigeria . And indeed not under the tutelage of the present Obasanjo administration.
It should however be noted that no one is implying that Obasanjo administration cannot conduct a successful headcount. Far from it. What is obvious from obasanjo?s antecedent is that his administration, whose legality is being challenged before the courts of law, cannot conduct a credible and acceptable population census.
Even though that all the past exercises were also marred by controversies and unacceptability, the 2005 census exercise would unarguably end up in a like manner, despite all the ?promises? by the organizers, that they hope to break this trend by using ?Satellite imaging not only to count people, but also dwellings in Nigeria?.
Curiously, it is the planned deployment of this satellite technology that made most observers to be skeptical about the whole exercise.
The Government has reportedly directed the National population commission (NPC) to use images from the NigeriaSat-1 satellite to reduce ?human error? in 2005 National population census.
The Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Professor Ajayi Boroffice, on 4th May last year, has said that this collaboration is important because only space maps would produce ?reliable? results in delineation of several settlements scattered across large expanse of land in the country.
However Prof. Boroffice?s pronouncement only amplifies the persistent argument of some hard line Southern elites, which have been becoming more strident over the past one year. Indeed, even president Obasanjo has lent his support to this line of thinking by implying that the data and image to be used in capturing ?rooftops? of villages that cluster each location of the country, would be used to determine the actual population of these settlements.
Good, one would say. But why do Obasanjo administration appears to be so eager to use satellite imaging in determining the actual population figure of Nigerians? More so, why do Southern elite, particularly Christian South, are so keen in applauding the imaging system as a panacea to an in-accurate census figure?
The answer to these innocuous questions is not far fetched: The census figures since 1952, has always been contested by the South. This is because as we all know, population figure largely determines the distribution of fiscal allocation and political power.
It is on this premise that population of a particular group can to a large extent, enhance it?s stake on the political power play of the nation. This realization ostensibly galvanized the South in to hammering in to the ears of all those who care to listen, that all the past census exercises were deliberately skewed to favour the North.
And now that the South has tasted power by Obasanjo presidency, the Southern elite are hell bent in reversing the demographic representation of Nigeria . This, they would do by decapitating the supremacy of an established Northern population.
Thus, the debut of the NigeriaSat-1 satellite programme that would provide ?sharp and accurate? data and image of estimated 47,032 towns and settlements that dots the Nigerian landscape. The NigeriaSat-1 satellite was nonetheless launched on 27 September, 2003 .
However, any keen and dispassionate observer can easily understand that there is more to the programme than what appears to be on the surface. The South, characteristically rallied behind, and applauded president Obasanjo for finally resolving to address the ?National Question?. Infact, the census was supposed to be conducted in 2001, but OBJ inexplicably refuses which clearly contravenes the Nigerian constitution.
Then if the rooftop images are going to be the determining factor in ascertaining the population density of a settlement, as asserted by president Obasanjo in May last year, and vociferously expounded by some notable southern elite, then there is indeed a plan to rig the forth coming census exercise (as they did the 2003 General elections).
The president had made an impression that it would be impossible for any one [from the North?] to ascribe a population of lets say ? 10,000 people to a village shown on the satellite monitor to posses not more than 30 rooftops.
Pre-empting the public consciousness that satellite images so far recorded had indicated that South is more densely populated than the North, is also a pointer to the insidious plan of Obasanjo administration to tinker with the 2005 National population figure.
And also this is why the North should naturally suspect the motive behind being so enthusiastic by the Obasanjo apologists, in flaunting the imaging system as a determinant in aggregate demographic representation of Nigerians.
Paucity of their reasoning presumably even emboldened them to claimed that the whole North-West comprises of only 8632 towns and cities in a country of 47000 settlement, thus representing only 18.38% of the Nigerian land mass. Whereas the South-West have 14403 settlements representing 30.6% of Nigeria land mass with a population making up of 29.57 million as against the North-West?s 16.47% million!
Not only that, they have already ?analyzed? and got hold of an ?accurate? 2005 census figure in advance. According to these ?pundits?, if Prof. Ajayi Boroffice?s (also a Yoruba Southern xtian) satellite images and data are correct, the order of Nigeria ?s population according to state by state, should be in this order:
1] Lagos 13] Osun 25] Abia
2] Oyo 14] Edo 26] Jigawa
3] Ogun 15] Delta 27] Ekiti
4] Kaduna 16] River 28] Zamfara
5] Ondo 17] Borno 29] Sokoto
6] Kwara 18] Imo 30] Taraba
7] Benue 19] Anambra 31] Nassarawa
8] Kogi 20] Plateu 32] Ebonyi
9] Kano 21] Niger 33] Kebbi
10] Adamawa 22] Enugu 34] Gombe
11] Bauchi 23] Katsina 35] Bayelsa
12] Cross river 24] Akwa Ibom 36] Yobe
These enigmatic projections are by all means ridiculous, as they are also laughable. However, they actually represent the mindset of typical southern chauvinists. Therefore, my sincere advice is that if nothing else was done to frustrate this reckless balderdash, president Obasanjo in his usual guile effrontery, would present Nigerians with these egregious claims as ?accurate facts?.
Another issue that would make Nigerian Muslims to be skeptical about Obasanjo?s sincerity in conducting a credible population head count, is his perceived Christinasation agenda of Nigeria . Despite the fact that Muslims in Nigeria constitute the majority in population, Obasanjo is seen to be marginalizing Nigerian Muslims in most of the Federal appointments.
Recently, some notable Islamic organizations had to come out openly and cautioned him on his ?creeping marginalizition? of Nigerian Muslims. They cited as injustice; his lopsided appointments in to federal cabinet and other key federal positions. Indeed since the advent of Obasanjo?s second term tenure, there seem to be an orchestrated design to subdue Islam, which has already manifested in his recent appointment of advisers and certain key positions.
Therefore, it is logical for the Muslims to be wary of the whole exercise, as the administration could consider disfavouring Muslims, by tilting the census figure to their detriment. Even though Gov. Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State has threatened to mount a boycott if the issue of religion and ethnicity were included in the questionnaire, the last of this issue may not have come to a definite end. Surprisingly, the NPC Chairman Mr. Sama?ila Makama also appeared to be convinced by this argument, he noted; ?Since each religious and ethnic group would prefer numerical superiority over the other, it might be safer to ignore religion and ethnicity since there would be the temptation by each group to explore ways to have an edge over the other.?
The National Council of State, a body which includes the president, the 36 state governors and former heads of state also decided to approve the avoidance of religious and ethnic affiliation of respondents to the questionnaire.
The United Nations however believed otherwise. The international body recommends that census forms must include questions on these issues. So was Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Therefore, it remains to be seen on how our president, who is ever eager to kowtow to international biddings and bend to the wishes of his Christian brethren would wriggle out of this ephemeral cul-de-sac.
One does not need a crystal ball to foretell the probable action of President Obasanjo. Despite the Federal Government budgeting of N40 billion for the exercise, some international organizations and foreign countries have already pledged to assist.
Britain ?s Department for International Development is providing satellite imaging at a cost of almost $60,000. The European Union (EU) is also supporting the head count with funding of 113.5m euros to aid the ?successful? implementation of the census. United Nations population fund, USAID, DFID and UNDP have also all pledged ?assistance? with the census. And president Obasanjo had given them an assurance that the funds would be utilize to ensure ?value for money?.
From the foregoing, we can safely conclude that the 2005 National population headcount may after all end up being controversial and may as well spark off law suits just like the past census exercises.
The Obasanjo administration for being openly unfair to the Muslims, is not best suited to conduct a credible and acceptable National head count at the moment.
What is now required of the Muslim leaders, and their organizations is to reach out to other patriotic Nigerians and civil organizations in order to put a keen eye on the conduct of the whole exercise. This should be concerted and absolute. Their uncompromising participation could go a long way in obtaining an independent view on the collation and interpretation of the demographic data.
Nevertheless, president Obasanjo?s inexplicable shifting of the time-table for the exercise from 2001 to the present; in which most of the fundamental economic and political restructuring is being tailored, had cast aspersions on the census exercise, just like his other programmes which were widely perceived to be a well laid out plan, being unfolded to permanently re-draw the politico-economic landscape of Nigeria.
Dear Indabawa, I hope you read this, it would not cost your people hausa/fulani less than $30,000. to go to china or india and get the satellite imagine of nigeria, If Prof Ajayi manupulate the satellite images, I would think the chinesse or indian would not do so.... Indabawa put sentiment apart and face the truth, our people says the truth is bitter.. You can only cheat people for a while, you can not cheat them for a life time...
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