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Abuja — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan  explained, yesterday, that the former chairman of the National  Population Commission, NPC, Chief Festus Odimegwu was relieved of his  appointment because of certain statements he made, which brought  credibility problem to the commission.
The president, who disclosed this while swearing in the chairman and  two commissioners of the National Population Commission; a member of the  ICPC as well as two Advisers at the Presidential Villa, charged public  officials to be mindful of their utterances in order not to erode the  confidence of the people in the work of their agencies.
He said: “When we have a country that the population is growing than  the way our economy is growing, then we must know our population  figures, so that government at federal, state and local levels will be  able to plan.
“The population commission is critical and you also have to be  mindful about the statements you make and that is not limited to the  national population commission alone, but to all of us who are holding  offices.
“You must be very mindful and not make statements that will create problem for the society.”
Addressing the new chairman, the President said: “I dropped your predecessor because of certain statements he made.
“He is a fine gentleman, everybody knows him, very cerebral. But an  institution like the National Population Commission must be one that  people will believe in whatever you do.
“And if you make pronouncements that will create credibility problem  to that institution, the best thing is for you to step aside for some  other person to step in because the credibility of that institution is  critical.
“Perception in most cases are stronger than real, no matter what you  do if the perception is wrong then society will not follow you,” the  president charged.
Odimegwu’s comments raised a quantum of dust in the polity with the  presidency firing him a query. He also received an avalanche of attacks  from many northerners especially, Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa  Kwankwaso.
Going by the 2006 headcount, Kano is the most populous state in the country.
During a visit to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential  Villa, Abuja, Kwankwaso called for Odimegwu’s sack over his denigration  of the 2006 Nigeria census, saying: “We are not happy about that  appointment and think that it was a mistake. Festus shouldn’t be there  in the first place… because he cannot be the chairman of NPC and at  the same time be attacking what his predecessor had done.”
Odumegwu’s comments belie Nigeria’s topsy-turvy experience with  population census. Acclaimed as the most populous nation in Africa, the  true number of Nigerians has always remained a matter of estimates.  Currently, Nigeria’s population is between 160 – 167 million based on  projections from the 2006 census that put the nation’s population at 140  million with the North accounting for 73.6 million and the South having  64.9 million.
Population figures had always been a subject of mudslinging between  Southern and Northern politicians. For Southerners, the belief is that  the population of the North has been “over-counted”.
They argue that going by simple demographic distribution pattern  across the globe, population increases as one moves from the hinterland  (desert or Savannah regions) to the coast. They wondered why in the case  of Nigeria, the North which lies more in the arid zone, is more  populous than the coastal South.
For Northerners, their extensive landmass and population must not be  taken for granted, facts, said argued that several head counts had  confirmed.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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