Nigeria’s Inequity, Iniquity and Inequality – The case for a Political Restructuring! — Gboyega Adejumo

By Ikenga Chronicles September 29, 2016

The first in the series:

At the inception of this contraption called Nigeria, those who were of the opinion that this country could be built on equal opportunities, equal partnership, equal rights and justice got their greatest shocker in 1959 with the parliamentary system of government that allotted more seats to the Northern NPC that had the least number of votes cast, among the three zones of the North, East and West!

When the results of the election that preceded our independence came out in 1959, the NCNC had the largest number of votes in that election, followed by the AG while the Northern NPC had the least number of votes cast. The available seats in parliament, however were differently allocated–The NPC had 134 seats, the NCNC had 89 seats and the AG 73 seats, out of a total of 312 seats.

The Northern NPC like I said, had the least number of votes cast, yet it had close to 50% of all the seats in parliament.

A total of 7,185,555 voters participated in that elections, with 3,258,520 from the North, 1,887,209 from the West, 1,929,754 from the East and 110,072 from Lagos. The NCNC had the largest votes cast of 2,594,557, representing 34%; the AG had the second largest votes cast of 1,992,364, representing 26.1%; while the NPC which later formed the government and produced the Prime Minister had, 1,922,179, representing 25.2%! All the other smaller parties shared the rest of votes and percentages.

Chief Awolowo as the Leader of opposition wanted the population of each region to reflect the allocation of seats and therefore called for a national census! As we can see, Chief Awolowo was justified to call for a census, which was dully conducted in 1962.

At this juncture, I shall now rely on the very apt write-up by the irrepressible statesman, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the former governor of Anambra state who wrote in 2012 and I quote:

“In 1962, there was a census and what was called preliminary result was announced. The result indicated that the population of the North at that time was 14 .5 million. The population of the Eastern Region was 11.5 million and that of the Western Region was 8 million. So, the population of the south at that time was above 19.5 million and higher than that of the north.

Then two young men at that time: Mbazulike Amaechi and RBK Okafor now said that based on the census results, all the southern progressives should join hands together and form the next government. That declaration kicked up a census controversy. The lesson we learnt was from the controversy and its outcome. In the course of the controversy, the population of the North moved up from 14.5 million to 17 million. Then it was moved up again from this to 19 million. It was manipulated again from 19 million to 21 million and finally ended up being hiked to 29 million which was double of the initial figure for the region.

The East remained at 11.5 million while the West remained at 8 million but was later raised to 10 million. The increment in the figures for the West arose after the Late Ladoke Akintola , former Premier of Western Region agreed to cooperate with the political party from the North. This is the foundation of all the subsequent census that has been conducted in this country. So when certain people talk about the population of their own part of the country, you begin to wonder whether they really have a sense of history.”

I was opportuned to listen to one of the best brains this country has ever produced, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo about 9 years ago, at a privileged gathering at the palace of The Alaafin at Oyo, where he relived his role as the Returning Officer in the 1962 census for the whole of the North, in which he elaborated the systematic imposition of the North in terms of population on the rest of the federation by the blatant inflation of the 1962 census figures. To this day, the population of the North has followed that trend of highly INFLATED NUMBERS!

As incredible as that sounds, the trend continued with the inconclusive 1973 census followed closely by the much maligned 1983 census as well.
Even the Olusegun Obasanjo census of 2006 followed the same pattern in which Kano’s population was deemed more than that of Lagos.
Whereas the World Bank estimate of Lagos population as at 2001 stood at 16 million, as against the 2006 census that said the Lagos population is just a little over 9 million. It is also important to note that Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state conducted a shadow census during the same 2006 census and arrived at a figure of, 17.2 million people for Lagos!

With the reality of an institutionalized Northern inflated figures that have become embedded and entrenched into the political system, I make bold to say that the way in which the Nigerian political arrangement is based, the North is primed and designed to always rule! Where they grudgingly cede power to other zones, no sooner after power leaves their base than they start the quest to have it back by any means! Under such an arrangement, this country of ours will never see growth and prosperity.

There are 774 local governments listed in the Nigerian constitution, where Lagos has 20 and Kano that has had Jigawa state carved out of it, has a combined 45 for Kano and 27 for Jigawa, making a total of 72 Local Government for a state that was of almost the same population with Lagos in 1990!

Going by the 2006 census, Kano State had, 9,401,288 and Lagos State, 9,113,605! The implication of this lopsidedness are many. For example, in the House of Representatives, based on local government constituency delineation Lagos has 20 Representatives to the combined 72 from Kano and Jigawa!

Nowhere else has this glaringly unbalanced and improper political misrepresentation been more felt than in the voting pattern witnessed in the last election that both Kano and Jigawa votes alone outweigh nearly all the votes of the South East States! The truth then is, the present political structure, is skewed to favour the North, not only politically, but also fiscally.

 

*The need for a restructuring of the fiscal kind, will be the next topic in this series.

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