Population Census In Nigeria , The Case Of Michika Adamawa State


Iliya Yame Kwache


When I read the article by the seasoned columnist and media guru Alhaji Abdulkarim Albashir in the Daily Trust newspaper of Thursday, 29th January 2009, Titled ‘INEC’s proposed new constituencies for Adamawa State’, I became interested in finding out the truth about Population census figures for Michika Town and Michika local government since I am a Kamwe man from Michika hence I decided to go into the archives. Because in his article he stated that the population of Michika seems to have dropped from 170,000 in 1963 to 152,000 in 2006 in a period of 43 years! What an irony.

The first documented census in the entity called Nigeria was conducted by the British in 1866. Subsequently there were others censuses in 1871, 1896, 1901, 1911, 1921. All the above censuses were conducted in the Southern protectorate.

The first census that included the Northern Protectorate was conducted in 1952 and the population of the Kamwe people of Michika was estimated at 64,000. My source, ‘an atlas of Nigerian Languages by Roger Blench and published by Kay Willington Educational Foundation, page 59.’

In the1963 census, the Population of Kamwe people of Michika rose to 170,000. In the 1973 census the population rose to 180,000. That was the census conducted by the Gowon regime that was disputed.

In 1976, the population of the Kamwe people of Michika was estimated at 250,000. Source: “The peoples of Africa: an ethno-historical dictionary” by James Stuart Olson, published in 1996 by Greenwood publishing group.

In the same vein the population of the newly created Michika local government in 1976 was estimated at 375,596, this increase on the Kamwe people population I believe was due to the fact that the then Michika local government included Madagali local government. Source: The impact of Christian Missionary Activities on the people of Michika LGA of Gongola State 1940-1986.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia published in 2000AD and edited by David Barrett etal, the population of the Kamwe people of Michika at that time was 327,538. IN all the above census fingers there has been a steady increase in the population of the Kamwe which naturally leads to increase in the population of Michika local government.

Curiously while the 1991 disputed census decided to down size and put the population of Michika local government at conservatively 200,000, the 2006 census on its own part decided yet again to cut the population to 152,000! What is interesting about the population census is that all the censuses done by non-governmental independent organizations have seen steady growth in the population of Michika and particularly the Kamwe people. In the contrary, the censuses conducted by the Government bodies like the National Population Commission (NPC) has seen the population of Michika decline and dwindle from 170,000 in 1963 to paltry 152,000 in 2006, a period of 43 long years. It is interesting to note in the same period, the population of some local governments who had far less population than Michika have been rising astronomically.

I need to put it on record here that Michika has been lucky that it has never recorded any serious catastrophic disaster that would have led to the decline of its population. Rather I have seen steady rise in the  number of other tribes like the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausa/Fulani, Margis, Kanuris and even foreigners who have found the peace loving Kamwe people easy to co-habit with and troop to Michika to do their businesses without fear of any  ethno-religious crisis. This has been attested to by the article by one Sola Balogun titled “Michika, Home of Nyamiri Arewa” Daily Sun Newspaper Thursday, December 4, 2008.

During my over 40 years of living in Michika, I have seen Michika transformed from a small Town that it was in the early 1970s to a Major Town now such that all the Banks in Nigeria are struggling to outdo one another in opening a branch in Michika.

Going by the World Court ruling of 2002 which was quoted copiously in Alhaji Albishir’s article in the Daily Trust afore mentioned, six additional villages were seceded by the Republic of Cameroon to Michika local government. Let us even assume that the population was 200,000 as was estimated in the 1991 disputed census, is the NPC saying that between 1991 and 2006 a period of 15 years there were no birth rate in Michika? What of the population of the six villages seceded to Michika from Cameroon ?

If in the year 2000 the Kamwe people of Michika alone had a population of 327,538, what of if the population of other non-Kamwe inhabitants of Michika like the Margis, Matakams, Hausa/Fulani, Igbos and others are added to the 327,538 of the Kamwe? The Government of Nigerian seems to be playing politics over the years with population fingers ostensibly  because the sharing of the National revenue is attached to population but it is equally misleading and a disservice to National Planning and distribution of social service like educational Institution, Health care and social amenities like electricity and water.  While it is true that there is decay in social amenities providers like PHCN nationwide, the case of Michika Town is most pathetic, whenever there is electricity from PHCN, it cannot even power 60 watts bulb and it will probably last for 30 minutes or there about. This problem is compounded by the population explosion in Michika which had PHCN Transformers installed in 1978/1979 when Michika had a paltry population of about 250,000.

In view of the disputes that have always arisen from population census conducted by the government, I suggest that, some International organizations should be invited to monitor or collaborate with the government in conducting authentic and acceptable census in Nigeria .

I am aware of the fact states like Lagos , Oyo, Plateau, Enugu and Benue have rejected the fingers allocated to them by NPC in the 2006 census.  Likewise some local governments like Kaltungo in Gombe state.

As was quoted yet again by A. Albashir, Michika has four members representing the local government in the then Gongola state House of Assembly; it was allocated four seats then based on its large population which was over 375,595.

I mean how can a local government which had 375,595 people in 1976 and had six extra villages added to it from Cameroon courtesy World Court judgment of 2002 have its population drastically dropped to 152,00 in 2006?  A period of 15 years.

I am pleased to announce that as an indigene of Michika there has never been any disaster or mishap that has warranted any drop in the population of the local population. I therefore challenge the National Population Commission to conduct a proper a census in Michika local government of Adamawa state.

Google map projection has put the population of Michika Town at 400,000 in 2008. Let the NPC dispute that by conducting a proper census.