A professor’s lies with statistics

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Sep 2nd, 2014
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The reader will recall we parted company last week on the note that today I will examine the merit of Professor G. G. Darah’s position on the issues he raised in his version of the outcome of the just concluded national conference. The 3,293-word report, as I pointed out, was published in the August 25 edition of The Pointer, the newspaper of the Delta State.

The professor discussed basically two issues, namely, the imperative for replacing the current three-tier federal system with two by abrogating local governments at the bottom, and the battle for “resource control”.

Coming from a professor of mass communication – indeed coming from a professor of anything for that matter – his report was more sound and fury than factual and logical. Out of the 3,293 words it contained, he devoted barely half to the two subjects. Even then, these were more of a diatribe against a section of the country than an attempt to persuade with facts and logic. The remaining roughly 1,500 words were a propagandistic defence of President Goodluck Jonathan that should embarrass even the most incompetent public relations officer, never mind a professor of mass communication.

Take, for example, his total disregard for facts in his attempt to malign a section of this country and blame it for all the country’s woes.

“The population of Taraba,” he said in his attempt to justify the conference’s decision to abrogate local governments, “is less than one million. ..Ughelli North is bigger. Uvwie is bigger than Taraba population. It’s one local government, yet Taraba has 25.”

If the professor had bothered to do his homework and had not allowed blind prejudice to take control of his mind, he would have discovered that nothing was further from the truth than the statistics he conjured in his head. First, Taraba’s population by the last 2006 headcount was not less than one million, as he claimed. It was 2,330,736. Second, the populations of both Ughelli North and Uvwie which he claimed were bigger than that of Taraba, were 321,028 and 191,472 respectively. Third, Taraba has 16 local governments not 25.

This makes the average size of the local governments in Taraba 143,796 as against the average in Delta of 163,936; a difference no fair-minded person can criticise as unreasonable, especially as there is a local government in Delta, Patani, which had a population of 67,707.

I am sure our dear professor will agree with me that playing as fast and loose with facts as he did with the populations of the local governments in Delta and Taraba just to make his point does no credit to even a primary school pupil, never mind the university professor he is and a veteran columnist that he was.

Sadly, his report of the conference is riddled with many such ridiculous claims. Take for another example, his attempt to blame his much-hated North for hitches in the payment of allowances to the delegates.

“We,” he said, “had spent six weeks no allowance. Somebody in the Ministry where Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is sitting on the voucher. And is doing it for purely sinister purpose. He does not want the conference to succeed.” That “someone” for Darah was obviously from the North.

“The first two weeks,” he said, “the northerners wanted the conference to break down. So that they can accuse President Jonathan: ‘ah you can’t run a conference. How can you run Nigeria again’. It’s fafafa (with a large chorus of fowl from the audience).”

Clearly our professor did not want to allow the inconvenient fact that the responsibility for paying the delegates allowances was jointly that of the finance minister and the secretary of the Federal Government – both of them Darah’s fellow southerners – get in the way of his wish to blame each and every failure of the authorities on the North.

Not only that, he proceeded to accuse the region of being behind the current state of insecurity in the land without any shred of evidence, never mind one that the scholarship he should stand as a professor for demands.

The region’s plan to embarrass the president by sabotaging the conference, he said, failed and so will its other plans. “It failed,” he said, “The next plan will also fail. The next plan is to embarrass him to a point by bombing many towns, simultaneously, causing havoc, disenchantment and abuse so that he cannot go for second tenure under PDP. This is the plan; it’s not hidden, it’s played out in the open.”

Last week I agreed with the professor that in a true federation, local and municipal governments cannot exist as a third tier of government even though his position was obviously full of malicious intent. In his argument, he cited America, Germany, Canada and India as true federations where local governments were creatures of the constituent states and not those of the centre as has been the case in Nigeria.

However, when it came to the issue of revenue allocation, the professor conveniently forgot that in all those countries, as in all true federations, all off-shore natural resources belonged to the countries as a whole and not to only the states abutting the oceans. This was clearly a classic case of one rule for “us” and another for “them.”

The professor’s bare-faced lies with statistics and his double standards were not the only worrisome aspects of his diatribe against a section of the country. Equally worrisome were his strident call on the country’s media, which as he pointed out, were dominated by owners from the Delta region, to ignore the ethics of journalism and descend into the crudest form of propaganda by defending the president, right or wrong, simply because he is from the region.

What the professor of mass communication said in this respect is worth quoting at length, if only because of the danger his words portend for the practice of journalism in the country. “I end up,” he said, “by challenging Delta people: We have not done enough in coming out to stand by Mr. President. We have not. Because the weapon being used at this point is verbal, intellectual weapon. It’s propaganda. And Delta State is the owner of those arsenals. The most important newspaper in the country in terms of integrity is The Guardian. It’s owned by Ibru, from Agbarha-Otor, Urhobo. The next one in terms of popularity is the Vanguard. It’s owned by Sam Amuka, Itsekiri/Urhobo. The next one is THISDAY, it’s owned by Nduka Obaigbena of Ika. He is also in the conference. Those three newspapers determine the mind of Nigerians. We need a programme that can join those forces and stand by Mr. President. (Clap of approval from the audience).

“Go to the electronic media, the most respected is either Channels or AIT. Channels is owned by John Momoh from Edo State; AIT by Dr. Alogho Dokpesi from Agenebode, Edo State. Then there is ITV, owned by the Igbinedions. They are the most powerful. People don’t tune to NTA, they tune to those ones if they cannot tune to CNN. Get what I am saying now, we need a movement that conjoin those institutions and then stand by Mr. President.”

What the president has done in three years, he said, as if firing the first shot of the crude propaganda war he is advocating, “are more than what Tafawa Balewa plus Shagari, plus Buhari, plus IBB, plus Abacha did in 30 years. Jonathan has done more than all of them.”

“Finally, finally,” he concluded, “You no say person we de chop yoke of egg, when you want to take the egg from him, whatever weapon he has he will use it against you. What we have understood now is that because this northern segment has enjoyed the booty of the oil for 30 years they cannot even contemplate not having it. This is where we are now; it’s a ‘civil war’.”

With professors like Darah doing their utmost to pitch one section of the country against the other, is it any wonder the future prospect of this country looks so bleak?

The alert reader would have noticed I have not discussed the merit or otherwise of the major resolutions of the conference as I promised last week. This is due to space constraint. It will form the subject matter for another day in a not too distant future, God willing.

 

Re: Again, the return of Chinweizu and all that

Sir,

Your write-up on “Again, the return of Chinweizu and all that” made some chilling revelations. Though one may not always agree with you but one will agree that facts are facts. This is your strong point.

I have watched these men, Professor G.G. Darah and Mr. Yinka Odumakin on the Channels -TV. The presentations of the two men give an impression of the play-out of a written script. Painfully, people from Delta led by the old grand Papa (Edwin Clark) have been behaving as if the President is for the South–South only.

I hope that the prediction of the break-up of this country by 2015 will not come to fulfillment.

Sir Biyi Adesanya, Ibadan.

Sir,

(Your piece last week contained) very interesting yet disturbing dimensions in contemporary discourses of Nigerian politics on behalf of the so-called “Greater/New South vs. Shariyaland Geopolitical Divide”. But for now I simply wish to correct the misplacement of retired Col. Tony Nyiam as of Delta State origin like Professor G.G. Darah. Tony Nyiam is an indigene of Cross River State.

I hope that the articulators and diviners of this Nigerian Geopolitical Divide are conscious of the present Nigerian open society for which they may unwittingly be coveting its enemies for upcoming generations of Nigeria, that is, if there is still Nigeria!

Professor Sam Oyovbaire

I stand corrected by my professor who taught me the importance of rigour in Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University in the early seventies.

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