Thursday, January 18, 2007

Like everything in Nigeria, the recent census is causing people to scratch their heads, argue with each other and simply pissing some people off. As far as I am concerned, I am just happy that the census took place. After all there have been delays in getting the census under way and all sensible and intelligent people can agree that a census is necessary to adequately plan for the development of any country.

Typically, a census happens every 10 years. In Nigeria, however, it took 15 years. In order for the census to happen, many compromises were reached. Sensitive, yet crucial information such as ethnicity and religion were not monitored. Violence broke out in various parts of the country and census enumerators were attacked by hoodlums. It also took a week to complete the census. My mother had a 10 day vacation, sitting at home. At least she got to read a good book.

Well, despite the complicated issues, I am glad it happened. The results of the census determine political representation, the amount of federal government funding given to states and how money will be spent to better the lives of all Nigerians (hopefully).

The last national headcount in 1991 determined that there were 88.9 million Nigerians, almost equally divided between females and males. In 2007, there are now 140,003,542 million Nigerians. (Please visit for President Obasanjo's speech to the Nigerian people about the census results). That is a lot of people and all these people need Nigeria to develop quickly. I wonder how such development will be achieved considering the multi-pronged problems facing Nigeria. The country faces continued corruption, HIV/AIDS, a paralyzed public educational system, disruption of oil production due to violence, a failed health system and the list could go on forever.

Considering all the "wahala" that preceded the census, I am concerned about whether we can take care of Nigeria and its people. What really troubles me is the belief that those who can and are willing to help improve the country will never have the opportunity. It is common knowledge that change is dangerous and the desire to change the status quo gets people killed. Despite this, it will be necessary for many changes to be made in order to address the needs of Nigeria's 140 million people and prepare for the many millions that are yet to come. I pray that we as a people, regardless of our personal interests and issues, will have the courage and strength to take the required actions to address the important issues and situate ourselves to be a success story in the near and immediate future.

Unregulated population growth causes development problems. Just ask the Chinese. That's why they instituted their one child per family program so as to slow down the population increase to a more manageable rate. Hopefully, the realization of how populous Nigeria is will force our leaders into action. I must note that I am curious as to how many Nigerians live abroad. Who are they, what do they do and where doe they live? Won't those be fascinating statistics? Maybe someday.

ADDITION ON 01/21/2007: Please visit DEMOGRAPHY MATTERS for additional discussion on population growth in Nigeria. Feel free to also scan the comments, they are informative.

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