Temple Chima UbochiSaturday, August 31, 2013
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Bonn, Germany




Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored (Aldous Huxley)

Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history (Winston Churchill)

his column is asking why the Kano State Governor wants the removal of the National Population Commission’s Chairman for saying what’s obvious. Do you see that the north is quivering now because Chief Festus Odimegwu is at the population commission’s helm, and has promised to conduct an accurate census? Chief Odimegwu wants to be an agent of change here; he promised to right the wrongs which have been steadily and continuously perpetrated since 1816. It’s then wrong for the presidency to query Chief Odimegwu for telling the truth. That’s why good people have shunned serving Nigeria, because, as a country built on lies and deceits, anybody in government who tends to be honest and truthful is being castigated or frustrated. This writer wrote, in January this year, that the reason why the census figures are being inflated is because they have been used as basis for the allocation of resources and appointments. If census figures are used for tax payments, in that the most populous states would be required to bring in more taxes into the federation account as obtainable in advanced countries, then nobody will cook up census figures again. This is exactly what this writer wrote on Wednesday, January 2, 2013:

“What Nigeria and its people need as from 2013 is a president who will be forceful in taming corruption, and, will be able to safe Nigerian lives and property. A president who will not only do the talking but will follow it up with actions! A president who will bring the different peoples of Nigeria to a table to decide how they will live together by the convocation of a sovereign national conference! The president can go round about it, but, that's the only panacea for peace and progress of Nigeria. Make no mistake about it; there are no two ways about it. Nigerians need to talk about everything from A-Z. What Nigeria needs in addition to the sovereign national conference is a comprehensive tax system. Because, with an enforced tax system, the manipulation of censuses or the inflation of government invoices or contracts would stop, and then, corruption would be tamed a bit. With a tax system, those states like Kano, which do inflate their figures during censuses, would be required to bring in more tax returns into the government coffer. With this, next time there is a census, nobody would inflate figures again by counting cows, goats, sheep, fowls etc as human beings. With a new tax system, anybody who inflated the purchasing invoice would then make the company, where the product was purchased, to pay more tax at the end of the year. Any company that inflated its invoice will have to bleed at the end of the year, when the Revenue Service calls for tax declaration, thereby preventing those acts from happening in the first place”.

Why should one get into trouble for telling the truth? Chief Odimegwu said that there has been no credible census in Nigeria since 1816. Immediately, the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, rushed to Aso Rock to confront President Jonathan, asking him to sack Odimegwu. Why? The 2006 census says that Kano is the most populated state in Nigeria. That’s why Kano State receives a lot of money from the federation accounts and has about 44 local government areas. President Jonathan, being a man who is all out to do anything or accept any bullshit in order to retain his job in 2015, then queried Chief Odimegwu for “making reckless statement”, in order to please the north, hoping that that will guarantee him that constituency when the “time” comes. That presidential action was wrong; there was nothing reckless in that truth. The President should allow Chief Odimegwu to do his job; we want an accurate census, as it would help us in planning well, and will correct some of the injustices being meted out to some parts of the country. Why is the north afraid, if it’s hiding nothing? The veil would soon be lifted, as Chief Odimegwu will get it right this time, because, just as it’s written in Proverbs 23:7 “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he”.

Now, the north wants to rubbish Odimegwu, a man of many distinctions, who has excelled in everything he was involved in all his life. Although Albert Einstein (1879-1955) wrote "Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value”, but, Chief Odimegwu has been both, as excerpts from Robert Obioha profiled Odimegwu as “a workaholic and great stickler to details. If you call him a perfectionist, you cannot be wrong. May be that is why he does not suffer fools gladly. Odimegwu's road to success was not an easy one. It was full of rough edges and thorns and pebbles. It is, indeed, a tough and rough road to success. He struggled with other pupils in primary school and came out with Distinction in First School leaving Certificate. He re-enacted the same feat when he graduated from Community Secondary School, Awo-Idemili (COSECS) in 1974 with Grade One Distinction, a very rare feat in those days. Odimegwu maintained the same success streak at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) where he made First Class Honours in Chemistry as well as being the best graduating student in the Department of Chemistry, the Faculty of Science and the best overall graduating student of his set. After his graduation from UNN and his NYSC in Borno State, Odimegwu began his career that spanned many years with Nigerian Breweries Plc in 1980, as a trainee manager. Through dint of hard work and exhibition of rare talents, he rose to become full manager in 1982. There is no doubt that Odimegwu had a fascinating and fruitful career in Nigerian Breweries Plc and rose to become the Managing Director and Chief executive Officer. Under his able and astute leadership, the company's stock became the most capitalized in the Nigerian Stock Market. It is little wonder some analysts categorized him as one of the most valuable employees of Nigerian Breweries Plc till date.

A seasoned administrator and good manager of men and resources, Odimegwu has had over 28 years varied experience that spanned the manufacturing, banking and finance sectors of the economy. At 60, Odimegwu can still offer his services to the nation. The nation can still tap from his enormous wealth of experience. That has already started with his appointment as the chairman of the National Population Commission mid last year. While I wish Odimegwu a successful tenure at NPC, I pray to Almighty God to give him strength to conduct a credible and acceptable census for the country. This country has had the misfortune of having controversial census from the colonial times to the present. Apart from the grudgingly accepted 56 million Nigerian population figures from the 1963 census, any other one has been hotly disputed. Every census conducted in the country has been disputed by one section or the other. There was a time it was rumoured that goats, cows and fowls were counted as human beings. That in itself portrays how far we can go as a people to have our population inflated for anticipated economic and political gains it will confer. In other lands, census is used for social and economic planning and not necessarily for allocation of state money as done in Nigeria. It is shameful that we do not really know our actual population just as we do not know how much crude oil we produce daily. The NPC, under Odimegwu's leadership, should give Nigerians a reliable and acceptable census. It is time we stop basing our development planning on estimated population figures from United Nations (UN) agencies. Such figures are deceptive and render our planning defective”.

This writer is telling people, who have been gaining from inflated censuses, such as Governor Kwankwaso, in the words of Hillary Clinton (1947) on June 28, 2004, during the fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer in San Francisco, "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good". This column is only asking Chief Odimegwu to stay focused, and not be distracted by those who have been “reaping what they did not sow” all along. Just as William Shakespeare (1564-1616) wrote in his book, The Hamlet: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man".

Read more, including an article by this writer in 2007 (it’s true that one may get bored reading all these, but they worth it, for more understanding of what the column is talking about):