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NPC says N187bn earmarked for 2023 census inadequate

National Census 2006

. To commence trial census on Monday

The Acting Director-General, National Population Commission (NPC), Ms Ugoeze Mbagwu, has said the N187 billion earmarked for the 2023 Population and Housing Census slated for April 2023 was inadequate.

This is even as the Commission said it will commence a trial census on Monday, June 27th.  

Mbagwu disclosed this yesterday at a Roundtable Meeting themed, “The 2023 Population and Housing Census: Issues, challenges and Way Forward,” organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in Abuja.

She said the census was going to be a digital exercise and would require far more than the N187 billion.

“What we need is far above that (N187 billion). That is why we might need a supplementary budget. What delayed the census this year was getting the government’s approval for us to do it.

“The President graciously with the State Council said we can do population and housing census.

“We requested for about N187 billion which is not adequate, but with the go ahead of the Federal Government, we are asking for a supplementary budget.

“And since there is an approval from them and they appreciate the importance of a census, I do not think funding will be a problem with the help of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and other donor agencies.

“We are relying on 50% from us and 50% from development partners,” she said.

The trial census is based on geopolitical zones; six states of the federation will have full 100% census coverage while the rest of the states will have one local government area.

Trial census                               

Regarding the trial census on Monday, Mbagwu said: “The trial census is based on geopolitical zones; six states of the federation will have full 100% census coverage while the rest of the states will have one local government area.

“The trial census is actually the training. We are going to train enumerators before we go into proper enumeration, which is when enumerators have to go to households.”

The acting Director-General also informed that arrangements had been made to ensure the security of the enumerators at the different venues of the training.

She said the Commission had successfully demarcated 772 local government areas out of the 774 in the country. “We have not demarcated two LGAs in Borno and Zamfara because of the security challenge.”

In his remarks, the Director-General, NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved April 2023 for conduct of the census across the country.

Sulaiman, who described this as a step in the right direction, said there were several issues needed to be critically assessed and considered to ensure a successful, acceptable and accurate census.

“The proposed 2023 census is coming 17 years after the last exercise. This is a violation of the UN recommended 10 years period. Therefore, there is a need to confront and understand the issues associated with this delay and those that were raised in the 2006 exercise especially by the international observers and foreign agencies,” he said.

Some of the issues, Sulaiman said, include the politics of federal character, ethnicity and religious consciousness, record doctoring and geopolitics of resources.

“It is also envisaged that the growing insecurity in several parts of the country may significantly hamper the conduct of the census.

“Other important issue that may shape the conduct of the census is the use of ICT and the synchronisation of census data with other national identity databases in the country such as the National Identity Number (NIN),” he explained.

Some of the issues include the politics of federal character, ethnicity and religious consciousness, record doctoring and geopolitics of resources.

The Acting Director, Department of Economic and Social Research, NILDS, Dr Asimiyu Abiola, said the size and structure of a given population was one of the major determinants of economic performance and future prospects.

“Having an accurate picture of the size and structure is critical for economic planning and policy formulation.

“The last population census in Nigeria was conducted in 2006, a scenario that falls short of the United Nations (UN) recommendation that census exercise be carried out at least once in every 10 years,” he said.

Abiola said the challenges posed by religion and cultural mind-set were potent and would require adequate attention. (NAN)

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