Census: Christians back Odimegwu, warn Jonathan against falling for Northern blackmail

By The Rainbow

THE Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) weighed in strongly on the side of the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Festus Odimegwu, who was said to have been queried by  President Goodluck Jonathan over his comments on 2006 national census.

CAN wants the President to  withdraw the query, and tender an apology to him in the interest of fairness.

The umbrella body of Christians in the country said that the call by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on President Goodluck Jonathan was a ploy to ensure that the NPC boss, Chief Festus Odimegwu, does not supervise the 2016 census was misplaced.

In a statement obtained by THE RAINBOW on Sunday,  the Public Relations Officer, CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja), Sunny Oibe, lent support to Odimegwu's position that 2006 census figures were manipulated..

He said,  '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 which makes it to dabble into politics every time?'

According to the statement, it is preposterous that in  the census that was conducted during the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida administration Lagos' population  was more than that of Kano but is 2006 census it had had outgrown Lagos in population despite the fact that the state was split during the regime of  late General Sani Abacha.

During 1991 census,  Jigawa Stat was still part of Kano State.

CAN wondered how  half of old Kano is more than Lagos. 'So, are we saying that Lagos is not growing, and that it's only the core North that is growing?,' CAN queried.

The statement added,  'Before the 2006 census, we confronted the former chairman of NPC, Mr Samu'ila 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 tribe and religion existed in Nigeria and that these information must be included in census data. The North then blackmailed and intimidated ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that if the indices were not removed, they won't participate in the exercise.'

'Why is it that it is the North that is always 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?'

Northern CAN further said that Odimegwu had not said anything worse than that of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

'We are also shocked that Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State went as far as intimidating Jonathan and the Federal Government into issuing a query to Odimegwu. Why did Kwankwaso not demand that a civil servant in the person of Sanusi, who has turned CBN into an Islamic agenda be sacked? Why have they not called him to order? This is a man who will dress the muslim way to the office in a manner that is contrary to the banking code. Yet, the heavens didn't 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 up 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 statement added.

CAN described the politicisation of Odimegwu's comment as a ploy by the North to blackmail Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.

CAN accused the North of always using many means including Odimegwu's comment as a means to blackmail President for the 2015 elections.