The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra ( MASSOB), have demanded that biometric data like ethnicity and religion should be included in the 2018 national census.
MASSOB in a press statement by its leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu however, regretted boycotting the 2006 exercise, an action it explained was taken to draw international attention to the struggles for Biafra restoration.
They said it was the intervention of unnamed prominent Igbo leaders that made them soft-pedal on their stand against Igbo participating in any Nigerian census.
The body, therefore, pledged full support for next year’s census but made a strong case for the inclusion of vital statistical indices, which it stressed would help put to rest the contention in the polity arising from the errors and manipulations of the previous exercises.
MASSOB regretted that Ndigbo and other ethnic nationalities in the defunct Biafra Republic were grossly shortchanged during the last census, and said it would not want a repetition of such injustices, hence its support for the next exercise.
The statement reads in part: “As every revolutionary struggle for independence has its methodology and can adapt to any opportunity that will yield positive results, MASSOB is considering allowing next year’s national census because of the intervention of some prominent Igbo leaders.
“We demand the inclusion of Religion as part of the data to be captured in the census, to ascertain the actual number of Christians, Muslims, Traditionalists. The inclusion of Religion will also enable us to know the number of Oriental Sects in Nigeria.
“Another condition is the inclusion of Ethnicity, which will immensely assist in knowing the total number of indigenous people that comprises their tribe in Nigeria. It will also help in putting to rest the ethnic arguments of the largest Nigerian ethnic group or the major and minor tribes.
“MASSOB also insists that during the coming census exercise, every citizen residing outside his/her state of origin must be allowed to leave for his/her state for the counting. This also will enable us to know the exact population of each state”.
Speaking further on the 2016 boycott ordered in the South East by MASSOB, Madu noted that “it was very unfortunate that Ndigbo misunderstood our position during the 2006 National Census where MASSOB urged Biafrans to boycott the exercise which later recorded a very low turnout.
“The 2006 National Census exercise was part of the yardsticks for MASSOB to showcase our strength, popularity and acceptance by Ndigbo.
“Also our primary aim of opposing the last census is to draw the attention of the international community, including United Nations, to the plight of Biafrans.
“Though the low turnout of South East during the last census exercise was used by our enemies and the Nigerian government to undermine and shortchange the status of Ndigbo in Nigeria, it is part of our sacrifice for Biafra and MASSOB is not regretting it.
“MASSOB therefore, enjoin all pro-Biafran groups to support the forthcoming census and mobilise all Biafrans to be counted so as to determine their actual population and disprove the erroneous impression that the populations of the South East and South South people are the least in Nigeria”. (Authority)