Friday, September 08, 2006

Nigerian stats

Don't ask me what is going on at Aso Rock - I haven't read the papers, we haven't renewed our DSTV subscription and the internet's only just back up. Whatever it is, it can probably be more than matched by the internecine wahala in the UK Labour party just now. The Reverend Tony's desire for permanence is gifting the next election to Dave C.

Meanwhile, I've got hold of the results of the National Bureau of Statistics' Core Welfare Indicator Questionnaire 2006 - 77,400 housing units were selected across the country. Here are some of the stats that stand out:

13.9% of households in Nigeria have difficulty satisfying basic food needs (this figure jumps to 25.4% in the South-East).

68.8% of female-headed households consider themselves to be poor. The figure drops to 61.1% for male-headed households.

Adult literacy: 64.2%, which breaks down into 73% men and 55.4% females

1.2% of households own a computer (but only 0.3% own one in the North-East, whereas 2.3% own one in the South-West)

Unemployment for 15 years old and above is 3.8% (not sure how they worked this one out!!)

54.1% of the population has access to electricity.

13.8% of the population has access to safe sanitation (this jumps to 30% in urban areas).

Female Gential Mutilation: the national average is 32.6% In other words, nearly one in THREE Nigerian women have had their genitals mutilated! (They do not say what the Male Genital Mutilation rate is (probably because male circumscision is viewed as 'normal' in Nigeria).

Unfortunately, the NBS' website is unfinished and has very little content: Let's hope one day they make key information like this more widely available.


Nkem 8:31 pm  

The stats do indeed reveal a lot. Most of them make sense. Female-headed households considering tehmselves to be poor: women are unlikely to be doing jobs which pay enough, plus they're also likely to be one-parent families, ie, no supplemental income.

I'm curious about adult literacy, and what it means. Is it people who can read and write? Is it people who have a minimum of secondary education, or a minimum of primary education?

Unemployment. Ah. The UK uses stats for people claiming unemployment benefit and jobseeker's allowance to determine unemployment. Talk that the government cooks the figures by sticking people on incapacity benefit: they're not unemployed, they're just imcapable. In Nigeria, it probably means, someone who is doing nothing. People may not have formal jobs, but they're always doing something to make money. Proportion of people who pay taxes or not may be a better indicator.

54.1% with access to electricity, is a load of rubbish. Those that have access to it probably don't have power for enough of the time to justify putting it in stats figures.

Safe sanitation probably means, access to water closet toilets. I can't think of any other reason for the jump in urban areas, which are often dirtier.

One in three on FGM is high, very high.

We do indeed need more stats like this. They give us a snapshot on the state of the nation, but Nigeria and IT are a terrible bedfellows.

Anonymous,  9:18 pm  

Very Sad....

Shango,  12:14 am  

Nigeria has a Bureau of Statistics?! Blow me down.

With that in mind, just what exactly is a "basic food need"? What, objectively, is "poor" in Nigeria, of all places?

The first rule of statistics is to define your terms.

FGM, I doubt, is that high, but it's anecdotal. Even one, however, is bad enough.

I take it then from your opinion that you're an uncircumcised Philistine?

St Antonym 12:51 am  

Are you seriously referring to male circumcision as "mutilation"?

Anonymous,  12:58 am  

Hey Oga Jeremy, where in our world is male circumcision considered "abnormal", does normativism even apply at all in this case?

Jeremy 1:27 am  

yep male circumcision is mutilation. Just as the clitoris has the most nerve endings in the female genitalia, so too is the foreskin the most sensitive part of the male genitals. Therefore, if the removal of the clitoris is to be considered mutilation, how can the removal of the foreskin not be? Both operations are as barbaric and unnecessary as each other..

Anonymous,  2:23 am  

Oh oh. Just offended all your male blog fans!

ngozi,  6:16 am  

journalists are supposed to use these statistics to make headlines.
but this day and co are more interested in rubbish.

ngozi,  6:19 am  

i've never come across a circumcised male penis that didn't enjoy what penises do best.

comparing it to femaile circumcision shows a complete ignorance of what female circumcision is.

how many men have difficulty with sex, going to the loo, giving birth, exercise because a big chunk of flesh has been carved out of them.

Jeremy 9:16 am  

There are many people out there who are starting a debate on positioning male circumcision as mgm- in the States there's an ongoing attempt to make it illegal. See here:

Jeremy 9:35 am  

Ngozi, you are probably right - FGM often has more serious consequences for girls that MGM for boys. But that's not my point. There are no real reasons (apart from unquestioned tradition) to circumcise boys - certainly scant evidence of health benefits (the usual argument).

Check this:

Interestingly, there's a well developed resistance to circumcision in the Jewish community - with an alternative ritual to circumcision (Brit Shalom)

Here's an informative little article written by an American mother who wanted to know what to do:

Akin 12:46 pm  

Generally male circumcision stems from the Abrahamic covenant and that is why you find adherents amongst Jews, Muslims and Christians. Some studies even put this practice further back in time.

There are however aspects of this that pertain to initiation rites into manhood and this is still practised by some tribes in Southern Africa.

Usually, Christian boys get circumcised within the first few weeks, other traditions usually leave that till about 9 to 16, then the pain is more palpable.

There are studies out there that indicate that circumcision does help in the reduction to the risk of HIV transmission apart from the natural cleanliness that one would have compared to the uncut.

Having never known what it is to have a foreskin I have never really desired the need for that sheath, my underwear does a good job of keep it from view.

As for Ngozi's first paragraph, never has my face gotten so red from reading comments on NaijaBlog.

St Antonym 2:04 pm  

"Both operations are as barbaric and unnecessary as each other..."

I hope to God I'm dreaming, Jeremy, and you didn't actually write that!

uknaija 2:47 pm  

I'll start out by declaring my interest- I am like most Nigerian men circumcised.

Jeremy, sorry but just recently there's been published evidence that male circumcision appears to be protective against HIV infection

This website is also useful in posing the alternative argument to the anti-circumcision position

I suppose you'd argue that ear piercing is mutilation as well- but then think of the hordes of Western youth (and not so youthful) with multiple piercings including in very sensitive places which don't seem to provoke the same fierce reactions....

I suppose there is a question of what age these "mutilations" should be allowed at if at all but I think the lesson here is that we come to all these issues with our inbuilt prejudices, no matter how objective we try to be...

St Antonym 2:55 pm  

My issue is not to argue the merits or demerits of circumcision for men. I think there are arguments on both sides, but that doesn't take away from the essentially superstitious nature of the practice (Abrahamic covenant and so on). There's a divinity, as it's said, that shapes our ends.

However, it is patently absurd to draw any connection what so ever between this largely symbolic practice and the horrifying ones of clitoridectomy and infibulation.

Infibulation, in particular, is a gross transgression of human rights, and the fact that it continues on such a vast scale is cause for sadness. To employ another superstition: there's karmic hell to pay for the way we treat our women.

Jeremy 3:42 pm  

Uk Naija: I'm aware of the HIV-argument. But practising safe sex overrides it - or are there some daft enough to argue that circumcision means you don't need to bother with a raincoat?

Going back to the original stats whatever our views on foreskin removal: I'm sure we can all agree the FGM rate in Nigeria is surprisingly high. Unfortunately, they didn't discriminate between different types. More research needs to be done here..

Shango,  6:53 pm  

In the quiet moments, Jeremy, when you're alone, do the demons come then?

I only ask, Jeremy, because possession is the only reason I can see for much of the tripe you think worthy.

I see now the truism of educated idiocy.

'Gbenga,  8:01 pm  

They're all bollocks, really!

Bose,  8:40 pm  

Before I had our first child, I made it clear to my husband that there was no way I was having our son circumcised. Both his family and my family thought I was joking (I meant every word and I stuck to my gun). My father and father-in-law (both moslems) said they will never forgive me. Sod them, sod tradition and sod hygiene I was not going to have my child be cut and watch him cry for days upon end just because of some irrational, unexplainable reasons. Most of my friends with sons have told me that having to bear the agony of their sons was just too unbearable. I can't imagine it.

His father said he won't be a proper men. Well I guess many uncircumcised men are not men then. when my son grows up and thinks that circumcision will make him a man, than he has the freedom to go ahead and do it. My daughter's ears are not pierced. She can make that decision when the time comes and I won't stop her. yes, Nigerians thinks I'm mad, but then ain't we all in one way or another.

I wanted the men in my life to give me good solid reasons as to why I should mutilate my son all I get is tradition this, divine this and hygiene that. Well my son is uncircumcised and he is happy.

I don't think male circumcision can be compared to female c, but it is still mutilation and we should all stop trying to defend it.

Now, I want all you men (and some of you women) who are defending MC to give me a rational explanation as to why. The issue of hygiene won't cut it or protection for aids 'cause there was no AIDs during the days of our greats. And pls St Antoynms please explain the divinities that shape your ends. I know you are capable of doing it.

And shango you are a silly human being

culturalmiscellany 11:19 pm  

I'm with you on this one Bose and I'm Christian so no doubt I'll have a fight on my hands one day about this topic. Any tips?? I just can't understand why it is necessary if I believe Jesus is my saviour no amount of adjustment to my body or that of a man will make a bit of difference.

St Antonym 12:33 am  

"And pls St Antoynms please explain the divinities that shape your ends."

It's a quotation from Hamlet: "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will."

But it lends itself nicely to punnery, don't you think? Since we're talking about"end" part of the anatomy and its shape...

Bose,  8:37 am  

ok SA, that explains it, I see the pun!!

Bose,it might be easier for you since you are a Christian to fight this particular battle. I know quiet a few Christian men here in Nigeria who are uncircumcised. Three of my cousins are uncircumcised. my aunty became a Christian in the sixites and so she refused to circumcised all her 3 boys. Her argument then was that although Jesus was a Jew and must have been circumcised, he however renounced so many of the Jewish tradition: including the denigration of women hence why he ministered to women. He was against Jewish relationship to wealth and money, and to violence etc. By extension, my aunty said he would have hated violence and circumcision whether to male or female is a form of violence and she was not going to be responsible for violating her own sons. Of course her family were really upset by her action and it caused a riff between her and husband for a while. So as a Christian you can fall back to the teachings of Jesus of non-violence and renounciation of unuseable tradition. But as a practising Moslem, I really did not have a leg to stand because my religion requires that we circumcise our male child. I just simply said this is one aspect of Islam I was not going to tolerate end of story. I also told my husband that I don't see why I have to explain myself since he has not been able to explain himself adequately as to why we should do it. My husband told me once that every time he bathe our son,he feels I was defying his authority and directly challenging his manhood. Well I told him that Allah is my only authority not another human being. You cannot imagine what it was like in our household for two years. For almost two years I was scared to leave my son with relatives because I thought they might go against my wish and circumcise him anyway.

My son gets teased a lot by some of his younger cousins and at his boarding school. but he is a strong and confident young boy who can defend and stand up for himself.

Anonymous,  11:37 pm  

Is it safe to assume you are uncut then Jeremy?

Anonymous,  11:38 pm  

As much as I disagree with circumsion, I have to admit that sexually, cut cocks are cleaner and more pleasurable to deal with... and prettier to look at:)

Anonymous,  11:58 pm  

cut or uncut, cocks are only as clean as the owner keeps them. Girls, girls lets not delude ourselves in thinking that cut cocks are automatically cleaner. surely, uncut cocks mean that they have to make special effort at cleaning. whereas cut cocks just assume that the mere fact of been cut guarantees cleaniless. this must not never be assumed in advance.

having had both cut and uncut cocks, I don't sees any difference when they are both erect. It is only in the limpy state that you see the difference and it is admittedly quite ugly.

Osioke 7:21 am  

Bose, please introduce me to single female friends, associates, or relatives even of yours, who are not in favor of male circumcision. I'm serious and not kidding at all. :) I'm single, early 30's, and oh so passionately against circumcision.

Prior to reading this topic, I had resolved that I probably couldn't find a any Nigerian (or West African) woman who will defend the integrity of her son's body, foreskin included. I posted a message on in an attempt to connect with other persons of Nigerian descent who do not favor both male and female circumcision:

That was years ago; and without responses from Nigerians (and we know you'll find Naija almost anywhere), I really thought that was a lost attempt. Apparently, and to my surprise, there are Nigerian women who are not in favor of circumcising their boys, as I'm gathering from this thread.

Anyway, I would love to hear from you and others, via email, who are in touch with Nigerians against male and female circumcision.

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