Festus Odimegwu and His Reckless Utterances By Mustapha Saddiq
The chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Eze Festus Odimegwu has been on the headlines recently over his opinion regarding all the 15 previous census conducted in the country since 1866.
The chairman’s brief profile tells us that he holds a 1st class degree in chemistry and an M. Sc in brewing technology from Herriot Wett University, Edinburgh, UK. He was also the chairman of the FS group of companies and Quintessentially Nigeria Ltd, Director in Union Bank Plc and Dangote Group of companies among others.
Now I wonder despite all his achievements (above) which include vast knowledge and experience, it is only his role as the chairman MD/CEO of the Nigerian breweries Plc that caught people’s attention including Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, the governor of Kano State who was quoted to have said that the Chairman probably has been taking too much of the alcohol he brewed while in Nigerian Breweries. Kwankwaso did not only accuse him of being drunk, he also called for his immediate removal. This to me is sad and shouldn’t have gone as far as that.
As I picked my pen to write this piece, I thought of how tough and difficult it will be for me to make a point for the NPC chief, especially now that everything in this country has been politicized along ethnic and religion line. Nonetheless, I decide to go ahead knowing fully well that what I write is absolutely and purely my opinion and rather not for any political party, region, religion or anybody whatsoever.
Immediately when I started seeing headlines about the NPC chairman’s issues on our national dailies, I know exactly where it is heading to: many newspaper editorials, columnist and even politicians from the ‘north’ will start to castigate the NPC chairman, in no time, their counterpart from the southern part of the country will start reacting in defense of the ‘southern’ chairman and from there, it will keep on getting worst. Some of our so-call regional, ethnic and religious champions will also set in to score some political cheap points. This is exactly how we have been operating as a country. So sad!
The simple truth is that the chairman shouldn’t have woken up one day and start falsifying all the previous census conducted in the country, and to compound the issue further, he even added that some region has been cheating the other. This will be ill conceived by the majority even if its the truth. I think here, the chairman should better learn some politics in his ways of approaching issues as sensitive as this.
Now to those saying that the ‘north’ has been cooking up their population figures, I ask them to learn how to back their claims with substantive evidences. Someone can’t just be living in Bakassi or Badagry for the whole of his life only to come one day and open his/her mouth like a canary talking about the ‘north’ issue. Ignorance is a disease!
Honestly, ‘North’ has all it takes to be more populous than the ‘South’ due to its social and religious way of life which ranges from ‘early marriage’ to polygamous type of marriage. Everybody will believe with me that the majority of the northern population is Muslims which tends to marry early and also more than one wife. Also, early marriage is directly proportional to more number of children. Here, I’m talking about the situation where by girls get married at the age of 17 or even 16, so also boys married at the age of 23 or 22. You see, you cannot compare the number of children these couples can have with that of those couples older than that especially that females generally have in their life time a period called menopause where by female can no longer get pregnant.
Polygamous form of marriage is also another factor in the ‘north’ – a Muslim dominated region- a man can marry up to 4 wives with each of them capable of giving birth to up to 12 children! Do the math yourself.
Now coming to the populous giant States that is Lagos State and Kano State, I know pretty well that the majority of the inhabitants of Kano are her indigence. At least nobody ever got the courage to beat his/her chest to call it a no man’s land as was said about Lagos State. Who knows, may be whenever the census program is underway, everybody went back to his/her indigenous State? May be this is why Kano is more populous than Lagos. This is also a food for the thought, I guess! Also, the number of Local governments in those respective States speaks for themselves with Kano having 44 while Lagos is having only 20!
And finally, maybe it is all politics. After all nothing is impossible in this country. Going by the fact that the ‘Northerners’ had ruled the country more than their ‘Southern’ counterparts, it is possible that they had been manipulating all the census figures. It is also possible that they want to use the populous Northern Nigeria for their political gain. But this can only remain a conspiracy theory.
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