By Dr Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu
Many lies have been told about the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria but none has been as pernicious as the lie that the South-East has the least population and/or the least voting strength in Nigeria.
To be sure, the actual population of the South-East is about 60 million, which makes us one-quarter to one-third of Nigeria’s total population. Do not be deceived by false figures originating from National Population Commission (NPC).
There has never been any proper head-count not to speak of census (which is more detailed) in Nigeria.
The so-called census in Nigeria has been an exercise in progressive and deepening falsification of data and fraud, with the South-East at the receiving end of the criminal allocation of fraudulent “census figures”.
However, when it comes to voter registration and votes cast, we have to blame ourselves for shortchanging ourselves.
From our leaders who are afraid of mass voter registration and massive votes cast during elections to pro-Biafrans who boycott voter registration and elections to the general South-East population who don’t take matters of election serious, we have by ourselves made our region a minority where we should be a clear majority.
In all states of Nigeria, South-Easterners comprise of 5% to over 99% of the population.
In South-East states, population of South-Easterners is over 99%; in states like Lagos, Rivers and FCT Abuja, we account for 40% to 60% of the actual population; in other states (including Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Borno, Taraba, Sokoto, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, etc), South-Easterners are 5% to 30% of the population.
Why then do some foolish and mischievous individuals speak of the South-East’s population and voting strength disrespectfully?
We only need to change our laid-back attitude and non-strategic approach to politics, democracy and electoral matters.
Now that INEC is registering eligible persons for voting purpose and knowing that our governors are inclined to disregard voter-registration, organisations like South-East APC Integrity Group/South-East APC Presidency Project 2023 and future electoral contestants should collaborate in registering South-Easterners where they will vote in the future or transferring their voter-registration to where they will vote in the future.
Persons eligible to vote in 2023 are persons who are now (in 2021) 16 years of age and above. We must sensitize and mobilize all of them to register to vote, collect their permanent voter’s card and vote at any election.
When Nigerians see the actual voting strength of the South-East (of registered South-Easterners in the the South-East, in other states of Nigeria, and abroad with online registration), the South-East would be accorded the respect we deserve, and even NPC would be forced to revise the fictitious small population figures it has been allocating to the South-East states in the absence of proper census.
South-East APC Integrity Group/South-East APC Presidency Project 2023 is setting up a committee that will conduct the sensitization and mobilization of South-Easterners at home and abroad to register in the ongoing INEC continuous voter registration exercise.
Support us with money and motor vehicles. We must not lament over what we could have done something about but which we failed to do so because of shortsightedness, selfishness and unhealthy individualism.
South-East APC Integrity Group/South-East APC Presidency Project 2023.