Why 2023 census must have provision for state of origin

Why 2023 census must have provision for state of origin

AZUKA ONWUKA FROM PUNCH

Over the weekend, the Chairman of the National Population Commission, Nasir Isa Kwarra, briefed the press about the 2023 census after his meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. He restated that the 2023 National Population and Housing Census would hold from March 29 to April 1.

He assured the nation that this year’s census would be different from past ones marred by controversies. He insisted that there would be no room for any manipulation of the 2023 population census, given the level of technology that would be deployed by the commission.

“This census is going to be different from past censuses,” Kwarra said. “The theory and practice are essentially the same, but we’re using high-end technology to conduct this census and it’s such that nobody can tamper with any figure. Nobody will be counted more than once,” he added.

However, there is an aspect of the census that the NPC has not said anything about. It is an aspect even the 1999 Constitution promotes. The 1999 Constitution and all official registration documents emphasise that Nigerians should be identified by their state of origin and their local government of origin. These are used in admitting children into government schools and universities, recruiting people into government establishments, and in appointing people into political and public offices.

Ours is a nation that loves injustice, inequality, oppression, and suppression. Whatever favours us or our people is right, no matter how unfair it is to others. We will go to great lengths to justify and rationalise it. The strong oppress the weak; the rich oppress the poor; the majorities oppress the minorities. Even the well-read and well-travelled, as well as the seemingly religious, all justify such acts of injustice loudly or by deafening silence. The only policy most of us support is that which favours ‘our people’, no matter how unfair it is to other people.

That was the genesis of “state of origin” in all the Federal Government forms filled by citizens, except in the national census form. Because it was discovered that if appointments were done based on merit (that is, through success in examination and performance), some parts of Nigeria would have the upper hand in federal institutions. The Federal Character Commission was created in 1954 to ensure that there is a balance. On the surface, it is a good idea. Even the United States of America has the Affirmative Action policy which ensures that under-represented groups like Blacks and women get some ‘unfair advantage’ in employment, education, and business, to compensate for the years of disadvantage and discrimination.

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