Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Mr. Festus Odimegwu on Tuesday revealed that the 2016 population census will include religion and ethnicity, a radical departure from past exercises which excluded the two contentious issues which are seen in many quarters as highly divisive and sensitive.
But Mr. Odimegwu, a former Managing Director/CEO of Nigerian Breweries, insisted the inclusion of religion and ethnicity would be necessary because characterizations are important in the country.
“If anybody is afraid of this, he should tell me why he is afraid and we have to call it ethnicity and religion because that is, if you don’t describe Nigerians in relation to ethnicity and religion and other parameters, then you are not describing them because we are proud of ethnicity and religion even if that is at a low level,” he said.
“If you are going to market border with something with pork and you don’t make a jurisdiction of Muslims in the 200,000 localities, you will commit a marketing blunder to go and launch it where Muslims are and maybe they eat it by mistake without knowing that there is pork,” he said.
“When they find out it is pork, do you know what they are going to do? They will quarrel with your company but if you have the data, you don’t go where there are high Muslim population, you go where there are high Christian population so they can have their pork and you can develop a new product for this.
“You need those data to plan for building mosque, churches, cathedrals, planning pilgrimages, planning nomadic education and if you don’t have those data you can never plan those things well. These things will be sources of stealing money, they will put a wrong figure there, and when you put money they will embezzle it.
“So you use data to plan. I am professional manager, a technocrat, one of the best from Corporate Nigeria, and anybody who said it is not true should come and give his debate. Truth is truth and it doesn’t recognize status and it is for the benefit of all Nigerians,” he insisted.
It is a nice idea, as long as it is not a misrepresentation, an inflation of figures just to favor specific ethnicity and religion because we have gone beyond that period when people will just go and bundle up figures for Nigerians, unless they want to course more problem.