Withdraw Odimegwu's query now, CAN tells FG

By The Citizen

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on the federal government to withdraw the query issued to the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Festus Odimegwu and also tender an apology to him in the interest of fairness.

Odimegwu has made a comment which faulted previous census exercises and the 2006 census, but CAN said Odimegwu's comment has been politicized and a ploy by the North to blackmail President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.

CAN  which made the call in a press statement signed by Mr. Sunny Oibe, Public Relations Officer of CAN in the 19 Northern States and Abuja,  said that the call by the Arewa Consultative Forum and Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso for the sacking of the NPC boss before the 2016 census, because he was a Southerner, was untenable.

'The call by ACF on President Goodluck Jonathan to make sure that Odimegwu does not supervise the 2016 census is misplaced. The question we are asking is: which part of the North are they saying has higher population? Since when has ACF become a political party that every time they will always dabble into politics?

'We in CAN hereby demand that the federal government should withdraw the query issued to Odimegwu with immediate alacrity. Why would the government be blindfolded by Kwankwaso? The government should also apologize to Odimegwu; Jonathan should make sure that nothing happens to him. We are surprise that Jonathan is allowing himself to be intimidated by the Islamic North.

'Before the 2006 census, we confronted the former chairman of NPC, Mr. Samuila Makama from Plateau State, on why religion and ethnicity were not included in census matters, to be able to ascertain who is who in Nigeria and the man was sweating.'

We wanted to know which tribes and religions exist in Nigeria and that this information must be included in census data. The man was sweating. The North then blackmailed and intimidated ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that if the indices were not removed, they will not participate in the exercise.'

According to CAN, although there was a census that was conducted during the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida's administration, Lagos State was given a figure more than Kano, saying that thereafter, the late General Sani Abacha came and split Kano into two, making Jigawa and Kano States.

'Today, a half of that Kano is more than Lagos. So, are we saying that Lagos is not growing, meaning that it's only the core North that is growing? Why is it that it is always the North that is causing problems, claiming that they are in the majority but always afraid of coming out with a true figure that will enable Nigeria to plan well?' it queried.

The association also expressed shock that Governor Kwankwaso went so far to intimidate President Jonathan and the federal government into issuing a query to Odimegwu, and queried why Kwankwaso did not go to Jonathan to demand that a civil servant like the Central Bank governor Mallam Lamido Sanusi be sacked for turning the apex bank into an Islamic agenda.

CAN wrote: 'Why have they not called Sanusi to order? This is a man who will dress islamically to office in a manner that is contrary to the banking code. Yet, the heavens did not fall.

'Why are they now calling for the head of Odimegwu? Is it because he is a Southerner? We hereby warn that Jonathan should not try to do anything that will undermine Christians in Nigeria this time especially with the next census matter; we will not accept it.

'What Odimegwu said was the truth; the figure of the 2006 census was cooked to support and favour the core North. The Middle Belt was grossly undermined and we are not happy with that. Odimegwu has stated the fact of the matter. The coming census must be addressed in such a transparent way.'

CAN accused the North of always using many means, including Odimegwu's comment, as a means to blackmail President for the 2015 elections, saying that Jonathan should not allow himself to be deceived into sacrificing Odimegwu because of the 2015 elections.

'The core North never voted for Jonathan and they will never vote for him. We know those who voted for Jonathan, it's the minority Christians in the North who gave him the vote.

'The only solution to these problems is a national conference come 2014 to address all the issues in Nigeria where it would be determined whether we will remain together or peacefully part ways. We will not accept and agree with a situation where one part of the country will always be dictating for others,' it said.