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A nation with flawed numerical identity

Those who are fanatical about religion or tribe will want the outcome to be in favour of their religion or tribe.... Ibrahim Babangida

One MATT SCHIAVENZA wrote in the The Atlantic: "One major reason is Nigeria’s political geography, which, throughout the country’s post-colonial history, has caused great turmoil. A country of some 170 million people split into numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, Nigeria has struggled to bridge the gap between its relatively affluent Christian south and its poorer Muslim north."

The statement like above is everywhere and too common. The other day, a friend who studied in Asia was telling me that Nigeria has 75% Muslim population and he was so sure that his own source is more accurate. Notwithstanding the fact that he has never visited Nigeria. He drew his "facts" from what he was taught in school and by what he read from media.

When will the world out there and our people understand that Nigerian South is not Christian South  and that Nigerian North has large Christian population as well? And some people are actually beginning to believe this shallow division of the country even among our own people who have left their states to see the reality in other states: The people who use their preachers and politicians' words as irrefutable reality.

The fact that religion was not included in the national census data made it even more difficult to know exactly how many Muslims and Christians there are in the country. Our continue division of the country along Muslim/Christian dichotomy completely ignore the existence of the traditional religions which have mass followers across the country. The fact that many Muslims and Christians equally practice their traditional faith also made it hard to know exact numbers of the adherents.. I suspect that most people mistake everyone going to church as christian and likewise those going to mosques. I have seen in my years of living that most people only do this to belong and not because they have true conviction about the religion. 

Nigeria is not divided between affluent Christian South and poorer Muslim North. there are rich and poor on both sides of the geography and they are Muslims, traditionalists and Christians... Nigeria is divided between Politicians and the rest of us; between honest and dishonest people; between humans and beasts.. between the corporate thieves and the rest of them... Those wearing the toga of religions belong to any of these two pairs.

One more word, Nigerian population figure is a sham.. 140, 160, 170.. no one is really sure. The Census Tribunal has nullified the Lagos Figure last year and ordered recount because it was judged to be inaccurate.To the best of my knowledge, no new headcount has been conducted at least till 2016. And there are also accusation of inflated figures in some part of the country while some complained of being under-counted. 

Until then, we should just assume we are living in a nation with flawed numerical identity. Journalists should stop giving extremists psychological advantage to believe they have huge population. Indeed, the ex president Ibrahim Babangida put it rightly when he noted:

“Wrong perception of what census is all about which characterised past head counts conducted in the country had rendered the exercise controversial...This development should be discouraged.....Those who are fanatical about religion or tribe will want the outcome to be in favour of their religion or tribe.We should try and remove all these things that tend to cause controversy’’

Isqil Najim


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