Femi Aribisala

September 30, 2014

Who believes the lie that there are more people in the North than in the South?

Who believes the lie that there are more people in the North than in the South?

2012 Bauchi State flood victims waiting at bank in Bauchi for money on Tuesday

By Femi Aribisala

In 2011, more votes were cast in Zamfara than the total number of legitimately-registered voters, according to the revelation of INEC’s clean-up exercise.

Everything turns upside down in Nigeria. Logic becomes illogical. Wisdom becomes foolishness. Two plus two becomes seven. Hospitals become mortuaries. Stealing is not corruption. Education is a sin. In Nigeria, so many things fly in the face of simple commonsense.

One major example is the ridiculous idea that, by some inexplicable freak of nature, more people live in the arid less-developed Northern part of Nigeria than in the wet, coastal, more-developed South.

Insult to intelligence

The larger population of the North is an elephant in the Nigerian living-room. According to the last disputed census of 2006, there are 75 million Nigerians living in the North and 65 million in the South. This is balderdash! As long as we continue to accept such blatant lie, there can be no true democracy in Nigeria. Electoral results must continue to be falsified to conform to it. As long as we continue to entertain such outright falsehood, we shall continue to be subjected to a “born to rule” mentality on the part of some mischievous Northern politicians.

The assertion that there are more people in the North than in the South is an insult to intelligence and commonsense. All over West Africa, the coastal states are more densely and highly populated than the arid desert hinterlands. Nobody has been able to come up with a reasonable reason why Nigeria would be the only exception to this rule. Most of the people in Egypt live on a strip along the Nile River. But in Nigeria, we are meant to believe most of the people live in the desert.

Some make the case that Northern polygamy leads to more births. If so, why are there only 30 million people in Saudi Arabia, a country more than twice the size of Nigeria? The Saudis are also polygamous. If there are so many more live-births in the North than in the South, this should be reflected in children immunization programs: but it is not.

Everything we know about demographics contradicts the inflated population of the North relative to the South. The economic opportunities in the South far outweigh those in the North. That means economic migration is bound to be southward and not northward. The states with the highest internally generated revenues all come from the South; while eight of the last ten are from the North. No Northern state features in the top ten.

Mythical Kano

The North regularly trots up Kano as the largest state of the federation, but there is no doubt that this is also pure fiction. There is no way that there can be more people in Kano State than in Lagos State or even Oyo State. Let me be even more categorical. Kano cannot be as populous as Ibadan. Kano cannot even have half the population of Lagos.

We were told Kano State was bigger in population than Lagos State. Then Jigawa State was carved out of Kano in 1991. But lo and behold, the remaining rump of Kano was still bigger than Lagos. In 1991, we were told there were 5.8 million people in Kano State, while 5.7 million were in Lagos. In 2006, Kano was awarded a population of 9.4 million; more than Lagos which was given 9.1 million.

In the meantime, Jigawa was awarded 4.3 million people in 2006. If this were to be believed, it would mean Kano (including Jigawa) had outpaced Lagos by more than four million people by 2006. That is impossible. Moreover, Kano was awarded 44 local government areas; Jigawa 27 and Lagos only 20.

Why any right-thinking person would believe Kano State has more people than Lagos State is beyond me. For years, the total amount of internally generated revenue in Kano was less than 6 billion naira a year. In the last year or so, it is now averaging 20 billion. But get this: the internally generated revenue in Lagos is 219 billion naira. So why would people be moving to Kano instead of Lagos? Where are the jobs in Kano to attract them relative to Lagos?

Why would more people keep moving to Kano where there is insurgency; from Maitasine to Boko Haram, relative to Lagos where there is none? The answer is simple. The large population of Kano relative to Lagos is bogus. It is pure fiction! If there were more people in Kano than in Lagos, it would show up, for example, in waste-generation. How much waste does Kano produce relative to Lagos? The answer is only a fraction.

How many houses and physical structures are there in Kano relative to Lagos? There is no comparison. Google satellite maps show a concentration of people and houses in Kano city centre. Everywhere else is sparsely populated. This is not the case with Lagos. It is not the case with Ibadan. It is not the case with Aba. If there are so many people up North, where are the people? Where do they live? Which vehicles take them from A to B? How many of these vehicles are in Kano relative to Lagos? Only a fraction!

Magical Zamfara

Precisely because we have accepted the lie of Northern population supremacy over the South, Attahiru Jega and his INEC cohorts decided to sneak further falsehood past us. Having discovered far more double-registration of voters in the North than in the South, INEC still went ahead to create additional polling units, allocating a disproportionate number of these to the North. However, the very audacity of INEC in the attempted perpetration of this fraud has brought to light certain anomalies in the 2011 elections, especially as it relates to the North-West.

INEC’s recent cleanup exercise of the voters register is a big indictment of the North. INEC discovered that there are far more double-registration of voters in the North than in the South. The greatest fraud in this regard is committed in the North-West, and the most fraudulent state in the country turns out to be Zamfara.

Sokoto and Zamfara states border the Republic of Niger. Niger Republic is 19 times bigger than Sokoto and Zamfara put together in land area. And yet, we are meant to believe that in 2006, Sokoto and Zamfara had a combined total population of 6.9 million; more than half of Niger Republic’s population of 12.9 million.

Zamfara’s fictitious population in the 2006 census was 3.2 million. Nevertheless, INEC registered 2 million voters for Zamfara for the 2011 elections. That means 62.5% of the people in Zamfara registered to vote. (This is roughly equal to the 64% of people who registered to vote in the 2012 elections in the United States; a country of far higher voter-awareness and socialisation). This is fraud of the highest order for the simple reason that 62.5% of the population of Zamfara cannot be eligible to vote.

The voting age in Nigeria is 18 years. According to U.N. demographics, 44% of Nigerians are below the age of 15. This means under no circumstances can 50% of the population anywhere in Nigeria be said to have registered to vote in any election. It is not surprising therefore that although INEC registered 2 million voters for the 2011 elections in Zamfara, the same INEC discovered in its clean-up exercise this year that 1.1 million of those voters (over 50%) were fraudulent; the result of double registration.

Voodoo results

That means only 914,886 of the names on the Zamfara register could be verified as not pertaining to double registration. (This does not tell us how many of the remaining names are fictitious). But then get this: according to INEC records, 927,219 people voted in Zamfara in the 2011 presidential election; mostly for Buhari. That means more votes were cast in Zamfara than the total number of legitimately-registered voters, according to the revelation of INEC’s clean-up exercise.

Let us put this in stark terms. It means, according to INEC, over 100% of the Zamfara electorate voted in 2011. What malarkey! By the time we factor in the fictitious names that must have been in the register, we can see that the figures coming out of Zamfara have nothing whatsoever to do with reality. In Zamfara, there is procedural inflation of figures pertaining to population and elections.

This gives us an idea of how fraudulent the North-West of Nigeria is with regard to population and electoral figures. This is not to say that manipulation and falsification of figures is not standard operational procedure in other states of the federation, but INEC revealed that it is most exaggerated in the North in general and in the North-West in particular.

It is not surprising therefore that, in the 2011 presidential election, there were 10.6 million “voters” from the North-West alone; twice the number of voters from either the South-West (4.6 million) or the South-East (5 million). This is preposterous, and is nothing but one big lie!

Back to Jega

It is on this fictitious super-structure of a larger population in the North relative to the South that Jega’s INEC based its outrageous allocation of 21,000 additional polling booths to the North, relative to 8,000 to the South.

In defense of this regional-chauvinism, Hakeem Baba-Ahmad added insult to injury by saying: “Jega admitted that many states in the south did not even deserve the number of units they got, but for the inclusion of the principle of fairness and equity. In other words, if INEC had been strict in sharing out the units in accordance with voting population and geography, the north would have received even more.” What poppycock!

In what appears to be the triumph of commonsense and logic, the Senate has advised Jega to suspend the allocation of new polling units until after the 2015 general elections. That should be the end of the matter. People who don’t understand how the Nigerian political system works feel Jega can ignore this advice. He cannot! The legislative branch of the government has oversight powers over the executive branch. Such a directive from the legislature to an arm of the government is not subject to debate. It must be obeyed otherwise Jega will be sanctioned.