By Chukwudi Nweje
Nigeria cannot make progress unless it de-emphasises population figures, de-politicises census data, restructures and allows self-determination of ethnic nationalities.
Leader of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, stated this, yesterday, in a presentation edtitled: “Using National Census to make the Equal, Unequal must End in Nigeria” delivered at the National Population Commission (NPC).
He said the way the country had dealt with census and other issues have served as great impediments in the quest to transform into nationhood and attract loyalty of ordinary citizens. Adebanjo said census figures are hotly contested in Nigeria because the different parts of the country try to use it to their advantage without recourse to the rigours of science, statistics, and demography. He said Nigeria would continue to wriggle in debacle until these issues are resolved.
“Nothing typifies the lie we tell ourselves as a people more than the way we obfuscate the basic facts about who we are, and how many? We indulge in brazen lies with no regard to common sense.”
He said the planned 2023 census offers an opportunity for the country to know its actual population. He, however, expressed doubts if the exercise would hold before the general election.
“Is census 2023 desirable? The answer ideally ought to be yes. The project was due in 2016. It is indeed long overdue that we confront our lying to ourselves with conjured data. But then is the project exigent at the proposed time frame? The answer is no. The year 2023 is supposedly a national election period. It is very doubtful if the census idea could resonate in the consciousness of citizens simultaneously with the electoral contest during the first and second quarters of 2023. Most importantly, it must be enquired if the subsisting Federal Government has the equity and believability attributes that will inspire the confidence of everyone.
This is a matter that is left to the honest conjecture by well-meaning citizens across the country.”
He suggested that the Federal Government be stripped of census matters, while local authorities take care of the exercise and the NPC phased out.