Awọn ara ọrun l’o pọ ju l’Oṣodi! – Tola Adenle

[With daily increase in readership of this blog by non-Nigerians, I must give a brief explanation of the title of this essay from rtd. General Obasanjo-era Nigeria. In Yoruba mythology, the border between the land of the dead and the living is very porous which situation makes it possible for the dead to go back and forth between the two “places.”

Osodi, a home to what must be hundreds of thousands of people apart from being a thriving industrial suburb, has a huge open air market that has teeming buyers and sellers well into the night AND – the wee hours of the morning. There are Yoruba who hold tightly to myths about such markets actually being populated by visitors from the land of the dead.

I hope above makes not just the title but this essay a little easier to understand. TOLA, April 16, 2012]

Here is the stats for yesterday’s readership and countries on this slow-paced, leisurely, something to keep the brain active Blog:

April 16 2012 on emotanafricanaDOTcom



The requisite proxy within the Nigerian Population Commission (NPC), a Mr. J.O. Ajayi – has explained the voodoo figure allocated to Lagos in the census in a description close to what a relation once ascribed to Oshodi’s teaming population. I had just returned from my “Andrew” years abroad and had wondered at how there were so many people at Oshodi on my way from the airport after midnight. I thought my cousin’s contention that most of the people at night were from the land of the dead who disappeared at the crack of dawn was similar to one of those Ekiti folk tales of my youth. A young girl who often met with her mates from the dead failed to find her horse tail used for dancing one dawn when it was time for them to return to the land of the dead from which the plaintive song, oni mu ‘ru mi mu i mi, ibara tiele …arose. She could no longer return with her mates because her parents had arranged to have it removed so she could come back to the land of the living!

In the voodoo demography defended by Ajayi who made the incredible statement that many people do not live in Lagos, they only come in to do business and leave the city immediately after their transaction, the world comes face to face with a man who, though a university graduate – a Director with the Federal Government – whose education compared to my cousin’s School Certificate, seems to count for nothing. One would think that even while speaking in his masters’ voices, his education should, at least, enable him come up with excuses that would not make him a laughing stock among his peers. Even in some Western countries that constantly worry about their very low birth rates, Ajayi should, by training, know that it is impossible to have 9,013,534 million people live in 4 million+ households counted in Lagos.

Ajayi’s contention about a floating Lagos population is absurd. His demography would be trashed at the World Population Council Headquarters in New York, and our Director would be allowed enough time to spend his estacode before being chased out of the USA via Kennedy Airport for espousing voodoo demography similar to what my cousin so colorfully described several years ago. His passport would be stamped: NEVER COME THIS WAY AGAIN!

Now, allow me to wonder aloud at the Council of States “ratifying” the population figures before they were recently released. This assembly of former rulers does NOT, in any way, represent even the so-called Nigeria’s geo-political zones. Gowon, Shagari, Babangida and Abdulsalami are all Northerners while the only Southerner is the head of the 3-month Interim Government, Sonekan. In addition, this body does not have any responsibility for how these first-of-their-kind [a a ri ‘ru e ri!] abracadabra figures were arrived at. As President Truman once famously said, “the buck stops at my desk”. It is President Obasanjo’s Census (POC) just as the 1991 exercise was President Babangida’s Census (PBC)

Let’s take a look at the figures through a few examples in the Yoruba area – where I am from – and some parts of the “born to rule” North that I know very well but before then, allow me a word on our home-grown contention of more males than females. Who else to turn to but the voodoo demographer whose assertion that the differences [of more men than women] are insignificant to be noticed… quite close … [and] will be taken care of by the margin of error”? Nobody can present this as a paper at any Population Workshop anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, I am sure “Demographer” Ajayi will soon have one of those zillions of National Honors draped around his neck.

Osun State’s figure of 3.4 million has been adjudged as “okay” by Brigadier Oyinlola, a man whose non-achievement in Lagos as administrator aided Brigadier Marwa’s political rise, a figure that sees the state gain 1.2 million people in 15years.

In the run-up to the selection of Kolawole as Ataoja in 1920, there is a letter at the National Archives from the District Officer to the Resident in September 1920 – with regard to the intrigues to prevent Kolawole from being nominated – mentioning the 60,000 citizens of Osogbo. A vibrant trade town long before the creation of Osun State in 1991, Osogbo had a train station during the reign of Latona in the 30s and was a location for one of Nigeria’s cotton ginneries in the glory days of cash crops like cocoa, cotton and groundnut. Even if a major train station or cash crops no longer play any role in the economic, and therefore, population growth of this town, even the Yoruba Resident Proxy would agree that a statistical progression of this figure of 60,000 using the 2.8% annual growth rate bandied around here over an ensuing 86-year period, would yield about 645,000. In the highly- and long-urbanized Southwest, it is impossible to have a single town take such a sizeable chunk of a state’s population – about 19% – because in Osun are still cities like Iwo, Ilesa, Ile-Ife, Ede, Ikire/Apomu – all of which are about the same size as Osogbo; big towns like Ikirun and Gbongan, Ijebu-Jesha also abound.

Also incredible is the almost 12 million people (11,859,140) who supposedly now reside in old Kaduna State made up of Kaduna – 6,066,562 and Katsina – 5,792,578 States. Incredible because the figures would have us believe that more people – 2.84 million more – live in Kaduna/Katsina States than Oyo/Osun States. My husband had an office for his consulting firm at Zonkwa during the Governor Balarabe Musa-governed Kaduna State, as well as a smaller project site at Wukari in old Gongola State, mostly for fieldwork. Before some writers start turning facts upside down, I wish to state that I await with great interest the breakdowns to see how many people now reside in towns like Zonkwa, Wukari, etcetera and cities like Ibadan, Oyo State. Ogbomoso, Iseyin, Oyo-Alaafin, Saki, Kisi, etcetera are all in Oyo and of the state’s 5,591,589 supposed inhabitants, it will be interesting to see the figures for these cities when the entire Oyo state’s figure would hardly cover the population of Ibadan in reality.

Effon-Alaaye, Ifaki and Ijero (Ekiti); Ikare-Akoko (Ondo) or Fiditi, Ilora (Oyo) – each has more human beings than many state capitals in the North if accurate figures are taken.

The engineering geared towards neutralizingYoruba influence and entitlements will not help Nigeria in the long run. Right now in the on-going wuruwuru registration exercise, only around 300,000+ people have been registered to vote in Ekiti, a figure less than the actual number of people of Ikole-Ekiti. All Yoruba states – except Lagos – are governed by PDP governors whose real authority extends, perhaps, not beyond spending state revenue allocations as they want. Everything they do comes as directives from the PDP to whom they seem to hold more allegiance than to the Nigerian state. One has a funny feeling that Ogun’s Daniel, the only PDP governor to have “protested” the figures, AND Osun’s Oyinlola, for whom the figures are “okay”, are both acting out scripts.

Meanwhile, poor Lagos with no offshoot state, and home to one of the densest populated cities in the world, has been asked to feed millions of people while handed an empty bowl.

Here are some stark realities of the agenda-setting figures: Bayelsa, an almost one-town state with 1,703,358 awarded figure, by implication, has half of the 3.4 million people in Ondo State with big towns like Akure, Ondo, Ikare, Owo, Okitipupa, Omuo-Akoko, Ikare, etcetera. Bayelsa supposedly has about 600,000 people less than Ekiti’s 2,384,212 in spite of big towns like Ikere, Ado, Omuo-Ekiti, Ikole, Ijero, Ifaki, etcetera. Ogun supposedly has over a million people less than Rivers; about the same number of people as Sokoto, and just about half a million people more than Zamfara. Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu, Ijebu-Igbo, Otta, Ilaro, etcetera – where are you?

Finally, other figures equally galling are the ones for Nasarawa and Kano States. Though carved out of Plateau, in reality, Nassarawa can best be described as exurb of the Federal Capital Territory, and its population will never stand up to scrutiny of the awarded 1,863,265, a supposed mere 500,000 people less than those who live in Ekiti.

Kano versus Lagos? They supposedly had about the same number of people in 1991 but after the creation of Jigawa – now 4.34 million – out of it, Kano now has 9.38 million for a total of 13.7m while Lagos has 9.01million inhabitants. It IS the worst travesty of the exercise but the Lagos Governor seemed to have seen the charade coming. The extent of the state’s involvement in the counting may make it possible – and perhaps put an end for all time – to the British-planted chaotic foundation for Nigeria’s headcounts.

The Nation on Sunday, January 21, 2007

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