The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) today issued a statement to protest President Goodluck Jonathan’s failure to sack Festus Odimegwu as chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC). SaharaReporters obtained the communiqué issued in Kaduna after a meeting between ACF members and members of President Jonathan’s Committee on Peace and Dialogue.
Signed by the ACF’s spokesman, Anthony Sani, the communiqué argued that Mr. Odimegwu has exposed his inability to conduct the 2016 census in an honest manner. The group, whose members are drawn from the various states in what used to be called Northern Nigeria, contended that Mr. Odimegwu’s recent statements called his objectivity to question.
In recent interviews, the NPA chairman had blasted Nigeria’s past census figures, openly stating that the most recent census was marked by widespread fraud and could not be formally released.
The communiqué by ACF read in part: “The meeting noted with delight the query which the Federal Government has issued Chief Odimegwu for discrediting past censuses, considering the sensitive nature of census exercise not only in Nigeria but across the globe.
“While ACF is not opposed to improvement of management practices that could bring about acceptable census needed for planning of socio-economic and political development of the country, to submit that all past censuses were manipulated in favor of a section of the country to the chagrin of the other sections may be understood but not acceptable.
“That is why ACF appeals to the Federal Government to reconsider its decision to allow the 2016 census under the watch of Chief Festus Odimegwu.”
Last week, the Presidency reportedly issued a query to Mr. Odimegwu over his statements. However, a source in the Presidency denied that a decision had been made to fire Mr. Odimegwu, a former chief executive of Nigerian Brewery Limited.