Population censuses are usually carried out every 10 years and have as their main objective the total count of the population of a country in order to provide essential information on its spatial distribution, age and sex structure and other characteristics. key social and economic. PAUL OGBUOKIRI reports that Nigeria’s population census, which has not been held for 17 years, looks awkward as the proposed census for 2023 is threatened by insecurity
Failure of the 2022 census postponed to 2023
Last week, Nigerians were once again, for the umpteenth time, informed that the next national population census would be taken in the country after the general elections scheduled for February and March 2023.
The Director General (CEO) of the Nigerian Population Commission (NPC), Mr. Nasir Isa-Kwarra, made the revelation after the meeting of the Council of State, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the villa Presidential Abuja. According to the DG, a pilot census would be conducted in June 2022 by the NPC after various political parties hold their respective primary elections as stipulated in the election guidelines.
In his remarks, the NPC boss said the commission aims to conduct the next one in April 2023, saying it will deploy high technology in conducting the national census. Isa-Kwarra said, âIt is very crucial because I have pointed out that the census is a very important exercise for the nation. Through the census, we generate the data that we use for policy-making, planning, development, by all three levels of government and the private sector.
They all need this. âIf you’re in the private sector and you produce something, you definitely need to know the population of an area if you want to create a market there.
âSo the census data is very crucial, very important. The data we use are only projections and estimates and are somewhat out of date. We need the actual census data to use for our planning,â he said.
The Director of the Center for Disaster Risk Management and Development Studies (CDRMDS) and Coordinator of the Postgraduate Program of the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Samuel Bankole Arokoyu, agreed with Isa-Kwarra on the need for a population census, but said that if he was truly aware that every sector of the country needed data to perform essential tasks, the census should take place before elections as the information is needed for the upcoming national elections in 2023.
Census abused, 2023 objective encumbered by insecurity
One group, Yoruba Global Alliance, said the state of insecurity in the country will only make the proposed census for 2023 a biased exercise in favor of a certain demographic region. This was according to a statement signed by Dr. Amos Arogundade Akingba, President and Chief Tola Adeniyi, chairman of the council of the alliance.
The Yoruba Self-Determination Organisation, she said, “unequivocally condemns this miscalculation and this heinous and manifestly self-serving political misadventure”. According to the statement: ‘It is inconceiv
able that any serious government should ever contemplate the enumeration of the human population in an atmosphere of unprecedented insecurity, mistrust, unbridled corruption and pervasive economic woes. It would be like a similar exercise conducted in 1974 that the subsequent Murtala Muhammed military junta immediately abandoned upon taking office in 1975.
âWhat could possibly be the rationale for seeking to do a national head count at this stage, particularly amid rumors and permutations that the unitary government in Abuja may have other tricks up its sleeves regarding the holding of elections? planned for March next year?
âThe planned census is an ignominious misdeed towards a pre-determined end to impose false demographics on Nigeria for the benefit of Fulani hegemony. Nigerians can no longer be deceived.
The position of the Yoruba group follows the advice of a former military governor of Kaduna State, Colonel Abubakar Umar, to the federal government to suspend the planned national census of the population. In a statement Saturday in Kaduna, he called on the government to instead focus its attention on addressing security issues in the country.
Describing the government’s planned population census as shocking, he said President Muhammadu Buhari should focus on finding a lasting solution to the disturbing activities of bandits, terrorists and other criminals who are disturbing the peace of the country. âNigeria faces existential challenges embodied by insecurity and economic collapse; embarking on a census would be tantamount to misadventure and a waste of scarce resources,â Umar warned.
“The FGN’s decision to seek and obtain approval from the National Council of State to conduct a national census in April 2023 must have come as a great shock to most well-meaning Nigerians.” The former military governor added: “A country that is facing existential challenges such as an unprecedented level of insecurity, the collapse of the economy, cannot have as one of its priorities the conduct of a national census.
âWe therefore urge the Buhari administration to suspend what will amount to misadventure and a waste of scarce national resources. This administration should focus all of its attention on securing the nation and conducting the 2023 elections.
A national census at this stage is certainly not a priority assuming that it is possible to conduct it. Nigeria originally planned to hold the census last year, but it was scrapped due to growing insecurity, particularly in the north where an Islamist insurgency and kidnappings for ransom have raged. Elders in the North had earlier, when the census was scheduled for 2022, called for it to be postponed due to insecurity.
Critical northern stakeholders led by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) which met under the auspices of the âNorthern Leaders of Thoughtâ strongly advised President Muhammadu Buhari to postpone the planned national census for 2022 given the large number of displaced Nigerians and the proximity of the census to the 2023 elections.
Insecurity remains a challenge as gunmen step up attacks and kidnappings, the latest being last Sunday when 154 people were killed and dozens abducted in an attack in northern Plateau state.
But in an interview with Trust TV, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the census was set to address the security challenges facing the country and not for political purposes. He said that the government of Muhammadu Buhari can conduct a population census and also curb the rising cases of insecurity ravaging the nation.
Shehu therefore called on Nigerians to give the government the benefit of the doubt as it delivers the Anambra Governor election despite the security situation in the state and the South East.
Why the census is delayed
The National Population Commission (NPC) Commissioner for Ebonyi State, Hon. Darlington Okereke, recently said that insecurity, recession, funding, among others, were the reasons why Nigeria failed to conduct a population census 15 years after the 2006 exercise.
Okereke made the revelation while briefing reporters in Abakaliki, the state capital, on the progress of the commission in the ongoing Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) exercise in the state.
He said there is no law stating that Nigeria’s population census would take place every 10 years, adding that the federal government has been working seriously to resolve the bottlenecks. He argued that the EAD exercise conducted in the local government areas of the country is not a delaying tactic but a prerequisite for the census.
âIf we don’t complete the demarcation of enumeration areas in the 774 local communities that make up the country, the census will not take place. So there is no delaying tactic. We take it gradually to complete all local governments. When we have concluded all the environmental assessments, we will be ripe for the census,â Okereke said.
To do things wellyou
It is always claimed that the people of Nigeria
overwhelmed for political reasons because it is the basis of resource sharing. There have been publications and revelations that the population of Nigeria has been doctored since independence in 1960 for the same political reasons and has not been corrected since. For example, the 140 million recorded in the 2006 census remains controversial.
The 3.5% growth rate used by the NPC in its projection is quite unreliable according to experts. Indeed, Nigeria’s population growth in 2013, according to the World Bank, was 2.8%, while the 2016 estimate according to Index Mundi is 2.44%.
Dr. Wizor Hanachor from the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Port Harcourt claimed that urbanization, post modernization, use of contraceptives and other developments have reduced the fertility rate of women and, by extension, the rate of population growth in Nigeria. . To this end, he said the NPC may have used outdated growth rate figures to calculate the Nigerian population, saying that no census taken in Nigeria had been flawless.
A former Federation statistician general, Dr Yemi Kale, recently said that the estimates, which put Nigeria’s population at between 170 and 180 million, were unreliable. Kale sincerely believed that census figures had been inflated in the past, making it appear that more people resided in certain areas of the country.
Similarly, Dr. Festus Odimegwu, the former Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), once stirred the hornet’s nest when he said that Nigeria had not had a credible census since 1816. The unshakable position of the two senior government officials has strengthened both. another on the ingrained disagreement, which the Nigerian population portends, which cannot be desired.
The Sunday Telegraph notes that there are modern methods of collecting accurate demographic data, which the NPC should research and adopt, but Dr Hanachor said he does not endorse any census at this critical time in the country for the simple fact that would amount to a waste of time and resources.
He said that rather than embarking on another useless census that will end in controversy, the NPC should work on the quantum of the biometric database that has been collected by banks, licensing offices, immigration , customs, JAMB, WAEC, telecommunications companies, national identity cards. agency, school enrollment, birth and death registrations, voter cards, and various vital statistics should be aggregated and used to extrapolate the country’s population.
“It would give a better and fairer picture of the population,” Hanachor said.