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Posts tagged ‘Festus Odimegwu’

COVER THE LIES OF NIGERIA OR GET FIRED; Why I Sacked Odimegwu by Jonathan.

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.

Confront Issues, Not Odimegwu By Paschal Chiduluemije.

By Paschal Chiduluemije

The increasing vituperative reactions, comments, articles and/or polemics emanating mostly from Far-Northern leaders against the person of Mr. Festus Odimegwu, the chairman of National Population Commission, over the statement reportedly credited to him to the effect that all the census exercises held in Nigeria so far were basically riddled with irregularities of immense proportion that ultimately undermined their credibility, appear to be not only misdirected but apparently risible – especially considering the sheerest emptiness of some of these criticisms that clearly underscore the sole intent of those behind them to be merely spiteful and nothing more.

Naturally, one had thought that by the prevailing circumstance of Mr. Odimegwu’s revelation and his well registered unwillingness to embrace the typically Nigerian administrative culture of window dressing that is rampantly inherent in our public service life (which the likes of Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso would have preferred and in fact had confessed their predilection for it), these cavilers would have done well in picking holes on the actual issues raised by Mr. Odimegwu rather than going personal about the whole thing. In other words, they would have done well to find solace in plucking the streaks of grey in Mr. Odimegwu’s bristle rather than going the whole hog of recommending his head for the guillotine.

Surely the truth is bitter, but we all must not allow ourselves to be amenable to amnesia as it concerns the actual comment made by Mr. Festus Odimegwu in respect of past census in Nigeria. To be specific, I strongly believe, Odimegwu’s statement was not only meant for the consumption of all Nigerians but aimed at unearthing for our collective reflection the fundamental malaise associated with demographics in Nigeria from the colonial era to 2006, when the last census exercise was conducted. It therefore boggles one’s mind why our compatriots from the far North are yelling out as if they were the only people that heard and/or understood the statement credited Mr. Festus Odimegwu.

Unfortunately, instead of actually addressing the issues or any of the issues raised by Odimegwu’s reported comment if he can, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso reportedly resorted to throwing tantrums and insults to the person of the NPC boss as if he (the latter) had snatched his wife from him. In fact, it may do us well to hear Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso out: “we are not happy about that appointment and think it was a mistake. Festus shouldn’t be there in the first place. Why? Because, you see, unfortunately, somebody read his CV, he had only one thing in the alcohol industry, all his life. And my guess is that he is taking a lot of his products and that is mistake because he cannot be the chairman of NPC and at the same time be attacking what his predecessor had done.” Funny enough, the same alcohol industry where Chief Odimegwu had creditably delivered and thus distinguished himself with verifiable and stellar track record (and for the sake of which Kwankwaso and other arm-chair critics got to recognize and respect Odimegwu today as a model) now generates substantial revenue for the country which the same Kwankwaso and his people are always hopeful and delighted to partake in the sharing of the same alcohol proceeds that accrue from the Value Added Tax (VAT) – despite their feigned aversion to the drinking of alcohol based on religious pretentions. Are you laughing? Indeed this is not a laughing matter. And one wonders whether this queer posturing of Rabiu Kwankwaso and his people falls short of the antics of thechichidodo (courtesy of Kwei Arman – a Ghanaian novelist – in his novel The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born). For clarity, chichidodo is a bird that dislikes feces but likes eating maggot a lot.

What is more, it is understandable that for Governor Rabui Musa Kwankwaso and his people it would have made sense if the “man” in Mr. Festus Odimegwu had died (thanks to Prof. Wole Soyinka) in the face of the myriads of glaring institutional and demographic misinformation or raw data that had been dished out to the Nigerian people over the years by the successive leadership of the National Population Commission. But conversely, for allowing the “man” in him to be rather alive to his duties, the Kwankwasos are now peeved and want us to believe them that the choice of Chief Festus Odimegwu is a “mistake because he cannot be the chairman of NPC and at the same time be attacking what his predecessor had done” – even when these legacies ARE awful. Clearly there is no gainsaying that this kind of mindset is one that is tied to the malady of window dressing which is not only the bane of governance in Nigeria but to a large extent a vindication to Chinua Achebe’s timeless submission that “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”. In the same vein, this can hardly be divorced from “the tendency to self-centred pedestrianism” (ibid: Achebe) which in part appears to be the unpleasant driving force behind the incessant verbal attacks emanating from the Kwankwasos. Otherwise, the kwankwasos ought to have remembered that the late President Umaru Musa Yaradua was arguably the first to take a mordant swipe at his predecessor’s legacies and the very process that brought him to power in 2007.

Whereas it remains commendable that the late President Umaru Musa Yaradua attacked the faulty system he met upon his ascendancy in 2007, it is a trite fact that the electoral reforms that were eventually brought to fruition preparatory to the 2011 elections and which we operate today are all but the corollaries of President Yaradua’s timely attack on what his predecessor – President Olusegun Obasanjo – bequeathed to him and the nation at large. Curiously, one therefore wonders what the Kwankwasos have got to say about this commendable but clearly antagonistic disposition of President Umaru Musa Yaradua over the farcical electoral process that brought to power in 2007 vis-à-vis the current scenario which the stance of Mr. Festus Odimegwu epitomizes.

But be that as it may, it is high time we – Nigerians – learnt to confront issues and not individuals. Indeed the Chairman of the National Population Commission, Mr. Festus Odimegwu, has passed his message, willy-nilly, and the onus is now on those who disagree with him to rebut his message by dint of issue-based arguments and cogent reasos and not by attacking his person.

Onyiorah Chiduluemije paschal, a Journalist, writes from Abuja,


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