IS THE NORTH STILL MORE POPULATED THAN THE SOUTH?
Hours after we wrote the column that literally sent Professor Attahiru Jega back to school, the man appeared before the Senate and brandished his learning tools and a bundle of newly acquired certificates via the exhibition of raw intellect which methinks came through as a result of a quick learning process inherent in the man.
According to reports, Professor Jega had appealed to the senators to remove the issue of voter registration from the Electoral Act and make it a purely administrative issue. Said he:
'In fact the extension we are asking for, I do not expect you can give us one week, what you can help us do is to remove the provision in the Electoral Act that says voters' registration must end 60 days to election. Under normal circumstances, the issue of registration should be administrative, but somewhere, it came under the Electoral Act and now you have the responsibility to help us address it. If you can remove that and make it administrative for INEC, frankly the problems will be resolved.' Yes. The professor got it right, on the money.
I do not know why this suggestion just made its way into the psyche of the erudite professor or all the egg-headed INEC heads of the past. A look around the world would reveal that what Jega was just suggesting had been in practice and a standard routine taken for granted all over civilized democracy and counting. And it would not take the know-how of a rocket scientist hours or seconds to decipher the reason why. One of the reasons includes the ease of implementation and the crowdedness and stampedes that occasion quadrennial forcible registration of people for sake of voting. The piling up of voter registration till the nick of important electoral calendar times smack of retrogression of the first order.
First, it conjures a needless sense of urgency in the psyche of both officials and the electorate. Second, the fixation of such a program to a certain period in our democratic calendar makes it very expensive and invites the urge on the part of those who would want to cheat to take advantage of the situation to cheat. It is the perennial reason why the area of the Nigerian nation with the highest school enrolment figures, come last in population count and voter registration. And of course, it could only happen in Nigeria. Fortunately now, some scholars are working day in day out to decipher the reason behind this unique flagrant abnormality.
Common sense at least would have let us know that in an environment where people are born every minute and people die every second, and some people surely would turn 18 and thus attain voting age every minute, every day, it is imperative to have a voter registration method in place that could capture voting age Nigerians without waiting to do that every four years.
I can see a lot of dry grins, giggles loaded with sarcasm to counter that in a land where birth and death registrations are uncommon, how does a Professor Jega or any other professor for that matter measure, in actuality, the age of a prospective voter. I can almost hear people laugh themselves delirious as to the use of real person's age to determine anything that has to do with demography – either for the purpose of sharing the wealth of the nation or for a serious national duty as voter registration or enrolment into any branch of its armed forces.
But INEC could set in motion that illusive beginning we know we needed but had not known how to go about. INEC staff should brace up for an all year round voter registration exercise that knows no season. That should form the bulk of its work schedule – a duty that should be performed without fanfare and the unnecessary attraction of attention – as was with the just concluded voter registration exercise.
While I was about signing off on this subject, a newsflash occurred on my laptop screen. Before, I could summon up courage to dissect the import of the news vis-Ã -vis the true situation of Nigeria's population, the matter had assumed a life of its own. Commentators, bloggers and newspaper columnists had reacted in many ways than one, expressing shock and disbelief that the British had knowingly sowed an eternal seed of discord based on falsehood in Nigeria.
According to Mr. Harold Smith, the 80-year old plus retired retard, remorseful, former colonial administrator of fortune in Nigeria, pre-independence census figures, which they declared for northern Nigeria was padded to give the region leverage over the south. According to the octogenarian, the British were very scared of handing over to the more enlightened incommodious south. Hear him out: 'Despite seeing vast land with no human but cattle in the north, we still gave the north 32 million.' Confession, I had tried in vain to open the link to the Smith interview which reports say was aired on Ben TV, London.
But according to insinuations derived from quotes and gleaned from writers and bloggers, the man had said he does not want to go to his grave with his soul laden in a burden of sin. Quote: 'I am in my 80s now; I have agreed but in the past 'they' did not want me to say anything, but now I don't want to go to my grave without telling the truth about the atrocities perpetrated in Africa by the colonialists.' _ _That it was better for him to keep the record straight else his soul is received in hell as it ought to be in the first place.
Honestly, if everything the shameless Harold Smith had said is true, reader, please permit me to kneel down here in the corner of my reading room to invoke Amadioha, Kamalu-ozuzu, Igwe-ka-ala Umunneoha, Sango, every epe, (known and unknown) Ogun, Ogunpa, Imo their father, Niger, Benue, Osun, Katsina, to strike this man down with immediate effect, 'cos through his actions and inactions, he did incalculable harm to a great people.
He stunted our growth. He raped us silly. Harold Smith.
All the same, it is good riddance to bad rubbish that the man who perpetrated the highest census heist/fraud on Nigeria has finally confessed. In case the gods in their furious anger do not do it for us as fast as they ought to, Mr. Smith ought to be extradited immediately by the British authorities to the Nigerian authorities to come answer charges of crime against humanity. If people who were behind the holocaust of the 40′s could still stand trial, Mr. Harold Smith should be extradited to Nigeria (The Hague may be a compromise) to answer queries regarding his heinous roles in colonial Nigeria.
For, was his manipulation of Nigeria's population facts and figures not the remote cause of the Nigerian crises of the 60′s? Were the publication of questionable census figures and the allocation of resources of the nation's wealth (according to the bogus numbers he imputed) not what led to the Nigerian fratricidal wars of the 60′s? Was it not the deception of the highest order of Mr. Smith that led to the pogrom in the north and the wastage of more than 3 million souls of the Igbo that subsequently followed? Was it not Mr. Smith's deliberate manipulation of figures that has kept Nigeria the way it was and still is?
Was it not Mr. Smith that created the wrong figures that has been used and recycled and recycled that placed Kano's (a barren arid land) population at par to that of Lagos? Was it not Mr. Smith's criminally minded erroneous population census that had been the basis of the bogus northern Nigerian (desert region) population superiority claim over the south's rain forest? Was it not Mr. Smith's stealing on behalf of the north, that continually made northern Nigeria to reap where it had not sown for decades and now would not even want the use of satellite imaging and mappings and other modern enumeration techniques and patterns to determine the true numerical strength of Nigeria?
Was it not all Mr. Smith's fault? Is it not the reason why northern Nigerian elite and ruling class even as we write resist any attempt they think would genuinely reveal the true population of northern Nigeria? Was it not based on Mr. Smith's false premise that more states and local governments had been created in the north, to the advantage of a few people and to the disadvantage of the densely populated southern tropical rainforest of Nigeria?
Mr. Smith's revelation has given vent to the postulate that Nigeria was lie. And when a lie is repeated over and over again, it tends to become a skewed truth, shoved down the throats of the gullible. Thank goodness, at long, long last, the chicken has come home to roost. We now know that the purported claims of superiority of population by the people of the north are, after all, based on fraudulent manipulation of the system by the overbearing frustrated, departing British overlords.
Now that we all have seen the truth, learned it and have it before us, what do we do? Is it not time to renegotiate Nigeria? Is it not time to verify, piece by piece, the constant claim of the north as parroted by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), that the north is superior to the south population wise? Is it not time to redraw the Nigerian map, its constitution and address the vexed issue of revenue allocation, which had lopsidedly placed a huge chunk of Nigeria's resources to the northern arid land to the exclusion of the highly populated region of the south? It's time to start thinking of renegotiating Nigeria because based on its original concept; it is now obvious that what we had was a huge 419 – the Britannica style.
Offoaro writes from Havensgate.