A couple of years ago, before the rave really became the internet, that was when a largely unaccounted section of the Nigerian economy was born, maybe not really but those years accounted for the boom they enjoy today. I am talking about when the churches started to take control, the period when miracles were competing with fast moving consumer goods for airtime on local television, the times when the church miracle show became primetime TV and the soap operas were times to coincide with the church show. A certain Nigerian church used to hold healing crusades around the country; they advertised heavily and sold events with the idea that they attracted millions of people. Looking back now I believe they lied.
I believe the year was 1998 or 1999 or there about, the popular Pentecostal church had advertised a miracle crusade which was meant to attract over 1 million people to the Port-Harcourt Liberation stadium, when it came and went the post event PR boasted that millions had attended the event. In 1999 the same stadium had hosted the under aged Fifa event and that particular stadium was listed as a 30 000 seater capacity, now the question is where did they find a space for the extra 970 000 people. Now let me give them the benefit of the doubt, let us assume that the field area can take another 70 000 people and that the exterior of the main bowl was used as an overflow and that space held another 200 000 people, we still cannot account for the remaining 700 000.
Now at those miracle events and crusades held today, church members from other parts of the country attend events at the host city, so let us assume that every group that comes into the city travels in a luxury bus, luxury buses can carry about 52 people each, it will take a minimum of 19 000 buses to get that number of people to the venue of this event. Now it is important to note that this piece is not about the churches, but this example was sited to give an idea of how Nigerians deal with numbers.
In the 2011 elections, we had about 39 million votes in total, 39 million. In the just concluded 2015 elections, that figure dropped to 29.5 million, how did that happen? The card reader and permanent voter’s card ensured that fraudulent votes were reduced, personally I think some people still managed to beat the system and that may account for an arguable 4 to 5 million votes of the so called 29.5 million people. Now it is also important to note that a whopping 69 million people were registered to vote at the elections, the shocking part of the announcements should be the disparity between the number of people registered to vote in most states and the number of people who actually voted.
This new system has managed to curb the incident of fraudulent votes but it has raised a new question, do we really have up to 170million people in Nigeria? How much fraud was perpetrated at the last population census and how far have we manipulated our figures? The next government must as a point of action conduct a strict census to ascertain the actual number of people in Nigeria; this is the only way that any proper planning for our collective development can be meaningful.
This article was written by Chinedu Amah