By Paul Adujie
Thursday, 01 February 2007
Nigerians Have Poverty In Common! (Why the Census Hoopla)?
By Paul I. Adujie
New York , United States
I have been following keenly, the hoopla over the just released census figures for Nigeria .
Matters have arisen therefore in these debates; matters have arisen because some Nigerians, who have participated or joined the debates, have been unnecessarily divisive, caustic and corrosive. Some Nigerians have been most offensive in the angles that they have assumed and taken. Some politicians and others have been egregiously guilty. These unconscionable attitudes and pronouncements, in these debates so far, raise so many questions.
It is time for all reasonable Nigerians to wonder whether the war of words should have arisen, should have, in the first, as result the release of our population count.
Do these prime actors and even other Nigerians, realize at all, the crucial role of population census figures in short and long term planning? Do we appreciate challenges in population surge? And mass migrations? How have we examined the impact of all these, their ramifications on rural dwellers drifts to urban and city centers and its attendant impact on social services or employments goals, etc?
Do these antagonists and protagonists in Kano , Lagos , Abuja and in between that a fiddling with the interests and lives of millions and millions of Nigerians?
It is quite disappointing that the disparities between the populations of Kano as advantaged over Lagos , has dominated the population debate above every crucial aspects of population count, among everything else!
Why is it, that the use of population census as a parameter for measuring resource allocations has assumed a be-all and end-all, front and center of Nigeria ’s population census exercise?
Why it has rapidly become an-us-and-them debate? Why has it quickly become Kano against Lagos , North against South, and Muslims against Christians and vice versa, why?
From my vantage position as a Nigerian whose only constituency is Nigeria , I worry that the core value and importance of population census has been lost in the shuffle, in the Kano versus Lagos and North versus South sentiments.
What if, if those making useless flame-throwing pronouncements over these census thing, were to do actual stock taking? Why don’t we pursue this matter in the most empirical and in the most specific its exactitudes? What if we were to measure the life expectancy of Nigerians resident in Kano state against the life expectancies of Nigerian citizens resident in Lagos state? What if we were to measure employment opportunities nationwide? What if we were to focus on measuring quality of life nationwide? What if we were to measure levels of healthcare and security and safety across our populations?
What if we were to measure the air quality for Nigerian citizens in Kano against those in Lagos ? What if we were to measure the steadiness, the quantity and quality of electricity supply to all Nigerians citizens resident in Kano against those Nigerian citizens resident in Lagos ?
What if we were to measure the ready availability, quantity and quality of potable-drinkable water supply in Kano against what obtains in Lagos ?
What if we were to measure the quality and state of repairs of state and federal roads in Lagos against what obtains in Kano
What if we were to measure in the most scientific and most empirical of manners, the availability, quality and quantity of medical personnel, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals in hospitals and healthcare centers in Lagos and Kano ?
What if we were to measure the care received by persons in Nigeria with disabilities resident in Lagos against those resident in Kano ?
What would we see in all these measurements? Is it likely that we will find a state of equality and equilibrium between Kano and Lagos , and Abuja and every where else in Nigeria in between? What will we discover as a pattern nationwide? Poverty!
What if, just what if, all Nigerians were to pretend for one second, that we all are humans, and that we all crave the same things, the good things of life that enable good health, creation of wealth and happiness? What if we were therefore assume that we, as in, Nigerian citizens every where, whether in Kano or Lagos and in between, deserve clean water, steady supply of electricity, good, equipped and well-staffed hospitals and health centers? How if we further assume that all Nigerians have the right to have good roads, good airports, good schools and even good governance? What could possibly happen to all of us and all of Nigeria if and only if, we engaging in this sorts of thinking, even if for a split second?
Me, as a Nigerian citizen who hails from the 774 local government areas of Nigeria and Nigeria’s thirty-six states and the federal capital territory of Abuja, all that I really ever want and need, is for every Nigerian to have the good life, to have good health and happiness wherever they are from Aba to Abuja, from Bauchi to Benin to Calabar, from Ibadan to Ilorin, from Ubuluku to Umuahia Warri to Warrake and Zaria to Zungeru
Issues such as the population census figure demonstrate, once again, the extreme fecklessness of some of our political leaders. Some of them have since latched unto to this issue, in a brazen divide and rule manner, as they seek to exploit the gullible among the citizenry, as they the politicians milk the ignorance imbued in what seems to be the mutual disdains or suspicions of Nigeria’s east west south north! Some unreasonable politicians in Nigeria , who on their own are clueless and bereft of ideas about good governance and public service, now want the average citizens of Kano and Lagos to wallow in mutual animosities! Kano is poor because so much of resources are allocated to Lagos , and Lagos is poor because so much more resources are allocated to Kano !
The truth however is, both Kano and Lagos and the rest of our country has poverty in common! We ought to fight to eliminate poverty across the board, across our great country! We ought to fight to eliminate the dearth of social amenities and public infrastructures in all nooks and crannies of our dear nation. It is that simple.
As I write these words, a crucial question kept repeating in my mind. The question is this, under what circumstances exactly, would any Nigerian wished that another Nigerian not have clean water, steady electricity supply, good schools and hospitals, roads to travel on? Under what circumstances exactly would any reasonable Nigerian wish for less?
Personally, I intensely desire the good things of life, health and happiness for all Nigerians in Kano , Lagos and every parts of Nigeria . Oh, and all Nigerians in the Diaspora as well!
Despite our competing and sometimes conflicting local and national interests, I believe, most unflinchingly, that we are better as Nigerians to focus on our collective national interests; When Nigeria wins, all Nigerians will win!