Dedicated to Nigeria's History, Socio-Economic and Political issues
Voter Registration and ID Registration
May 15, 2003
The following information is for your attention:
Some discrepancies are to be resolved shortly – see reports below.
May 15, 2003
Disparity here and there,
North maintains lead in population
WITH the declaration of 52.05 million as he number of Nigerians between the ages of 18 and above, the debate over the country's exact population and its distribution is bound to continue. Declaring the figures on Monday, in Abuja, Dr Muhammed Shata, the Internal Affairs Minister said Nigeria's population was in the neighbourhood of 160 to 170 million as against the projected 120 million.
Besides, the figures were at disparity with those released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which conducted a similar exercise-the voters' registration last September. The voters registration exercise was conducted between September 12 and 22, 2002. And following complaints from the public a make-up exercise was carried out for a week last December. Altogether 67,892,762 applications were got and 60,823,022 voters were registered.
Conducted in March, about six months after the voters' compilation exercise, the DNCR was expected to have registered more persons because more adolescents would have turned 18 years and it lasted for a longer period.
The exercise lasted for four weeks from February 18 to March 16 2003. It was initially billed for two weeks but following complaints from members of the public, it was extended to four weeks.
But in spite of the longer duration less number of persons were registered precisely, 8,769,242 less.
A lot of reasons have been advanced for the shortfall.
It was easier to register voters. The process for the National ID Card registration was cumbersome and time consuming. And mobilisation for the voters' registration was perceived to have been more effective with politicians augmenting the INEC's awareness drive.
Of the 60,823,022 voters, the North had 32,274,762 voters while the South had 28,448,260. Figures released by the DNCR for the ID cards followed the same pattern.
Of the 52,052,780 carded Nigerians, the North has 28,303,135 while the South has 23,827,843.
A further breakdown shows that the NorthWest geo-political zone has 13,207,004 registered persons followed by the SouthWest with a figure of 10,943,424. For the others, the figures are as follows: North Central (7,697,209), Northeast (7,398,922), South-South (6,807,256) and SouthEast (6,077,163) with the SouthEast having the lowest registrants.
The National Identity Card project was conceived in 1978 by the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo. Decree 51 of 1079 was promulgated to give it legal support. But the departure of Obasanjo on October 1, 1979 took the wind off the sail of the project until he came back 20 years later.
The figures have affirmed Nigeria's long population distribution controversies arising from census figures.
Censuses in Nigeria had always ended in controversies and were largely unacceptable to the majority of the citizenry. The first recorded censuses in Nigeria were those of the Lagos colony in 1863 (a year after the founding of the colony) and 1871. The census was thereafter taken every 10 years.
The first census of the whole country was taken in 1911. Of the 16.054 million persons counted, the Northern Protectorate had 8.12 million, about 50.1 per cent of the total population.
After the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914, another census was held in 1921. The population was put at 18.7 million with the South having 48 per cent of it.
Head counts were also conducted in 1931, 1953, 1962/63, 1973 and 1991. Except in the 1962 exercise, the North maintained an edge over the South, thus affirming the 1911 projections.
However, the 1962 and 1973 censuses were most controversial and were subsequently cancelled by the governments in power. Of the 45 million Nigerians counted in 1962, the South had 24 million, thereby "overtaking" the North, which was allegedly favoured in past exercises.
Consequently, population figures had always been a subject of throwing brickbats between Southern and northern politicians. For the Southerners, the belief is that the population of the North had been "over-counted" and that of the South "under-counted."
They would argue that going by simple demographic distribution pattern across the globe, population increases as one moves from the hinterland (desert or Savannah regions) to the coast, wondering why in the case of Nigeria, the North which lies in the arid zone, is more populous than the coastal South.
And for the Northerners, that several head counts had confirmed their higher numerical figures and extensive landmass must not be taken for granted. And the controversies persist!
Although meant for Nigerians who were 18 years and above as of last February, the number and spread of Nigerians registered for the National Identity exercise have confirmed the country's demographic distribution pattern.
According to the figures released by the ministry, only two states - Benue and Taraba had more identity card registrants than voters. Benue has 1,755,528 registered voters as against 1,784,903 persons for the ID card. For Taraba it is 1,026,950 voters and 1,086,436 carded persons.
Rivers topped states with higher disparities, having 867,777 more voters than ID card registrants. Borno came second with a figure of 602,266, followed by Ekiti, which has 511,412 more voters. Among the top 12 in this category are Bayelsa (495,331), Kano (493,373), Ondo (387), Gombe (368,343), Ondo (387,477), Gombe (368,343), Akwa Ibom (367,146), Kebbi (358,331), Anambra (342,887), Katsina (341,153) and Imo (334,341).
May 15, 2003
Two months after, the
waiting game for ID Cards continues
OVER 50 million Nigerians were registered in the one-month mass registration exercise last February under the National Identity Cards Scheme supervised by the Department of National Civic Registration (DNCR). The registration, which came against the background of criticisms usually associated with new projects, was conducted two decades after it was first put on the drawing board.
But three months on the outcome of the exercise is still being awaited; the registrants are yet to exchange their temporary or tear-off slips for the cards; prompting the inevitable question: Where are the identity cards?
Despite the inability of past administrations in the country to set the ball rolling for the implementation of the scheme, its eventual birth was welcomed with massive criticisms. Although Nigerians accepted the scheme, they, nonetheless, placed hurdles on its ways. Because their expectations were too lofty they cried foul when they were not immediately attended to.
For a start, no sooner the project was given attention at the Federal Executive Council and positive signs of approval were given than voices from the northern part of the country complained that the scheme was aimed at disenfranchising the North. Besides kicking against its being used for the just concluded general elections, they said the age for the registrants must be reviewed downwards from 18 to 10 years.
To allay their fears, a presidential committee was set up to explore areas of fostering their understanding. This delayed the take off time for the project for six months. Even as their demand for a reduction of the age limit could not be met as under-age registration would have made a non-sense of the project, they were given concrete assurances that the cards when produced would not be used for the general elections.
Another acid test also came its way when the registration was about to take off. Some of the workers employed for the exercise, threatened boycott due to delay in the payment of salary arrears and allowances. It took an explanation by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Dr. Mohammed Shata, at a pre-flag-off meeting organised at the headquarters of the Department of National Civic Registration, to convince the state coordinators that money had been released from the Ministry of Finance to pay them.
Subsequently when the scheme took off, many Nigerians complained and frowned at the long hours spent in queues before being registered. And trust ingenious ones among them; they soon devised means to avoid the stress associated with the exercise. It was widely alleged that the adhoc staff resorted to extorting desperate registrants to facilitate their registration.
Other difficulties were connected with the registration including the registering of physically challenged Nigerians especially lepers; the need to extend the two-week deadline for the mass registration; and the need to stop aliens from registering.
In spite of these rigours Nigerians trooped out in thousands to participate in the exercise, which was eventually extended by two weeks.
The President Olusegun Obasanjo government must take the credit for solving a 25-year-old puzzle that had haunted the National Identity Cards Scheme. Like the computerised voters' registration also initiated and implemented by this administration, the success of the ID Card scheme has broken a long-held jinx of not being able to plan for the citizenry due to the absence of relevant data occasioned by dearth of accurate population figures.
Although the cards are yet to be produced and distributed to Nigerians, the country has, however, been placed where it actually belongs in the ECOWAS sub-region and beyond. Very soon, the scheme will be extended to Nigerians in the diaspora; and President Obasanjo will be needed to give his approval for finances to be released for the exercise.
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To further encourage Nigerians, Shata said that anybody or group of persons who have grievances should channel them to him. With the closure of the four weeks mass registration exercise, Nigerians can still be registered. The exercise is continuous.
Recently, Shata directed the DNCR registration officials to embark on another round of mop-up operations, targeting ministries, agencies, companies and others which, due to the nature of their work, could not participate in the previous exercise. "So, registration is still open," Shata added.
Just last week in Abuja, the total statistics was down-loaded from the 36 States and the fact reveals that Abia registered 1,208,755, Adamawa 1,208,226, Akwa Ibom 1,257,349, Anambra 1,516,908, Bauchi 1,930,451, Bayelsa 270,141, Benue 1,784,903, Borno 1,553,753, Cross River 1,010,282, Delta 1,437,184, Ebonyi 821,811, Edo, 1,327,839, Ekiti 470,341, Enugu 1,233,338 and FCT 439,573.
Others are Imo 1,296,153, Jigawa 1,483,891, Kaduna 2,492,497, Kano 3,507,057, Katsina 2,226,092, Kebbi 915,218, Kogi 983,413, Kwara 904,447, Lagos 4,553,242, Nasarawa 782,378, Niger 1,435,472, Ogun 1,575,825, Ondo 1,116,704, Osun 1,102,724, Oyo 2,124,588, Plateau 1,366,017, Rivers 1.401,461, Sokoto 1,295,425, Taraba 1,086,436, Yobe, 725,112 and Zamfara with 1,263,824 registrants.
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