Topic: Controversies of Census Figures.
Case study: Nigeria
The first census was held in Nigeria in 1866. The colonial authorities conducted other census exercises in 1871, 1901 and 1911, whereas all these covered only the Lagos colony and in 1911, the southern protectorate. The first nationwide census involving the north and south were organized in 1921. There was also the 1931 census and the 3-year 1951-1953 census. The 1963 census was upheld but only because the Supreme Court ruled against eastern Nigerian government which had gone to court to challenge the results. The 1973 census caused widespread acrimony. The census officials openly disagreed with each other. There was so much tension that the results could not be released. The result is that up till this moment Nigerians do not know their exact number, every population exercise has been at best a guessing game, made worse by the politics of it all. The political root of the Nigerian census is to be traced to 1951-1953 exercise which the colonial authorities used as the basis for the allocation of seats in the federal parliamentary elections of 1954 and the general elections of 1959. The north has rested its power and privileges on the myth of numerical superiority. Most conveniently and with power in the hands of the north through military, successive Nigerian constitutions have used the politics of number to determine resource allocation and states/local council’s creation, and thus, the north has been enjoying on advantage which other parts of the country continue to contest. The 1962/1963 census exercise came before the 1964 elections. The 1973 census was part of the Gowon administration’s transition package. The 1991 census by the Babangida administration was designed as a component of the political transition programme. With every census prefacing and election, every political group then take out a more than ordinary interest in it, with a determination to manipulate it, in order to supply enough...
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