BEFORE we forget in the euphoria to get rid of PDP we must ask questions about the conduct of the last elections. Who had what contract? Did they really intend to produce a permanent voter’s card (PVC)? What did the contract say? Who signed the contract to produce PVCs?
The contract will have a cost, and time elements, a payment schedule, and consequences to meet that schedule, Bank Guarantees from the contractor that if he fails his money is forfeited and the bank will lose thereby making the bank an interested party to see that the contract is performed.
There is nothing new about biometric and fingerprinting to capture the details of people. Such a liability was placed on the GSM companies and over 100 million Nigerians were so captured.
Now CBN has asked for similar exercise called the BVP. INEC could have piggybacked on both these exercises and obtain the information needed for nothing, free of charge, instead of the trillion Naira it spent which it has not properly and probably cannot properly account for.
You may counter and say that in the GSM finger and biometric exercise, many Nigerians had more than one phone so there was duplication. But this is nothing for the computer to sort out; repeat fingerprints and biometric identities would simply be eliminated. In the CBN BVP, one number will be peculiar to one account holder and no duplication will be possible. The point is to tie some product to a person which has a number, photograph, fingerprint, a product that is ultimately valuable to the person as it is unique, verifiable by anyone. The PVC is not.
Politics may not have allowed Professor Jega to profit from the databases already in existence. That same politics has now destroyed beyond repair the concept of a PVR, which, judging from the last election, was ignored with complete abandon by the officials at the last 2015 elections in very many places. I am not saying it should be discarded. It would form one of the verification layers that we need to know in properly courting ourselves. That there was no credible election in Nigeria in 2015 – was predicted by me, no one else is willing to look at a gift horse in the mouth.
The outcome result that Buhari won is accepted; PDP was due to be replaced. Or if you prefer, Mr. Jonathan was due to abdicate.
But let’s look at the facts. Nigeria has a poor history of numeracy i.e. counting. No census results have ever been accepted but this does not mean that some of the figures were incorrect or even if so, not useful. Abuja is full of databases under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, sitting in air-conditioned warehouses for a very long time.
Nigeria had censuses in 1952, 1972, 1992, and 2002. We need therefore to use other databases to validate and verify what we have.
Will School enrollment not help in mapping our demographics? Secondary, Primary, Tertiary institutions, Banks, GSMs Food Production, Water Consumption, transportation etc are other indices of Demographics. We have finger printing and photographs for driver’s licences too.
Boil these down, condense all the above to an acceptable irreducible minimum. We need this to even begin to plan our economy, to know where to grow, what to grow when to grow, when and where to go, etc.
And then build from there. But there must be the political will to actually find out how many we are, what we eat, where we go to work, school in, how we live, etc. Each time we mention population, the old shibboleths are out in force.
My journalist friends have heard me rail in full throttle about their lack of professionalism about Chibok and the whole of the North East and Boko Haram.
In Lagos, Ibadan, Umuahia, Port Harcourt, etc are tens of people from Chibok. Who has interviewed them? We must know how many tonnes of maize, cassava, millet, yam, produced in Nigeria since Chibok. Is there a greater story than yams, cocoa, palm produce, rubber, cotton, Chibok? The Sambisa forest is depicted as a no go area, etc we need to know to plan properly.
An evil forest that would eat you up, that is a Nolly Wood motif. Even if we accept the mysteries of this forest. If so, who did the voters registration there? How could they? They have no brothers and their relatives. INEC would have to produce every evidence of registration in the whole of the North East, Bayelsa, Rivers etc. I have been a politician and can say with no fear of contradiction that since President Shagari’s days there has been no election in Rivers, Bayelsa, etc., regardless of opinion of international observers
No Nigerian journalist has ever been to the north-east since Chibok.
No brothers of Chibok girls, no list of Chibok girls, nothing. No group disappears like that if they have not been wiped out in a pogrom. International observers are camouflage to cover an inconvenient truth.
Lately, the Nigerian Army now found 300 odd women and children, I guess with PVR!! This beggars belief. The Ijaws during the Delta Militancy can discover any amount of villagers politically whenever. The bottom line is we know the insurgents, can trace their family trees, etc.
The Sambisa forest is not some unknown place waiting for a Mongo Park. Yes it is a forest reserve like so many, the British built in other parts of Nigeria – in Enugu ( Milliken Hill), in Ibadan, in Ilorin, Kaduna, Ikom and Ogoja, Bauchi, etc. But these forest reserves have people employed to look after them. Their children go to schools, and are treated when sick.
Moreover, the British established the Sambisa Forest Reserve, then to be certain that a map of it exists somewhere. Do they not have local government? Are local government councilors not collecting money there? Are there no schools, clinics, administrative officers? Do they not have members of the state and National Assemblies? Are there no banks, no local government treasuries, no fertilizer depots, or ordinance maps.
If there are, who drew them, when were they updated and if not, why not? What is this secret wall of silence? Is there no identity kit, photograph of Shekau or any Boko Haram militant?
What are the security implications of having large areas of Nigeria with no police, no dungarees, no administrative units, and no military? Yet they have schools otherwise we would not have Chibok girls missing? To have secondary schools means there must be a network of primary schools. What have the states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa been doing with part of the two per cent Education grant distributed by the Federal Government?
– To be continued tomorrow.
-Ambassador Patrick Dele Cole (OFR) is a Consultant to The Guardian Editorial Board.