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When one Rabiu Kwankwaso complained about the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Eze Festus Odimegwu, being ineligible to head the parastatal because he was once the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of a brewery, many thought the man was merely joking and ought to be ignored.
But when he went ahead in his capacity as the governor of Kano State to request that President Goodluck Jonathan sacks Odimegwu so he does not conduct the next National Census in 2016, it became obvious that Kwankwaso has become jittery and rabid.
Reason: Odimegwu’s reflexes indicate that he and his team were about to give Nigeria its first census that can be internationally accepted as nearly realistic and reflective of the true demographic permutations of our country’s variegated population.
People like Rabiu Kwankwaso would rather not have that.
His state, Kano, in 2006 was awarded a population figure that even many Kano citizens wondered where the people lived beyond the metropolis and its immediate environs and of course, the Sabon Gari quarters.
Several other states in the North had impossible populations that stood every scientific demographic assumption on the head.
The 2006 census figures were so laughable that populations in the tropical and forest Southern zones had less human beings in comparison with the arid, desert North.
The 2006 national census was conducted without such important factors like tribe and religion being included.
The North threatened former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria would cease to exist if the census forms provided for the inclusion of the spread of the ethnic groups and their religious affiliations.
Obasanjo caved in and allowed the Northern overlords to have their way.
Kwankwaso is out again to blackmail the country into holding another costly population census that says nothing about the population of the country.
He and those he is fronting for must be told in a clear language that Nigeria and Nigerians would not tolerate that silly joke anymore.
Kwankwaso’s bleating came a few days after the newspapers had given a wide coverage to Odimegwu’s account of how far he and his co-directors in NPC have gone in their plan for the 2016 national census.
Odimegwu reported that a strategic road map had been prepared in such a way that every phase of the plan and every tool or equipment needed had been budgeted to the last kobo.
According to Odimegwu, when his team made a formal presentation to the President at Aso Villa; a presentation he personally conducted, Mr. President was reported to have been so thrilled that he confessed that he had not seen a blueprint so comprehensive and so comprehensible!
That must have been what terrified the Kwankwasos of this world that they shouted “blue murder!”
In his warped and selfish thinking, Kwankwaso must have concluded that the outcome of the 2016 Census is as good as accepted, if President Jonathan could be so excited with the master plan.
Of course, Odimegwu had said that no census in Nigeria since 1906 had been scientifically executed and as such, their results had been, at best, speculative; including the last one of 2006.
It is instructive that Kwankwaso made no mention of the 2016 population census road map as enunciated by Odimegwu.
He rather clung to Odimegwu’s preambles in which he x-rayed the activities of the NPC over the years, identified its shortcomings and limitations and even admitted fraudulent acts allegedly perpetrated by some directors and invited the relevant investigative bodies to probe his allegations.
In other climes, Eze Festus Odimegwu would be applauded for his transparency. But this is Nigeria where rivers flow uphill!
Apparently, in an effort to please Rabiu Kwankwaso and his faceless puppeteers, the President is reported to have actually queried Odimegwu on his widely circulated press interview.
Aso Villa has not denied it. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the President to withdraw the query and apologise to Odimegwu in the interest of fairness.
One may not be able to decipher the nature and exact wordings of the purported query to the NPC Chairman, if ever there was one.
But what galls many Nigerians is the sheer impudence with which Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) are going about the issue of a possible reliable population count of Nigeria.