Postponement of 2023 Census ill-advised – Dr. Joe Chukwu

The postponement of the 2023 National Population and Housing Census as approved by Mr. President and announced by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, is to say the least disappointing, ominous, ill timed and sad, as far as many patriotic Nigerians are concerned.


This was a process whose preparation was kickstarted more then three years ago and what was remaining was the final step which included the training of supervisors and enumerators which would have dovetailed in deploying them and other already trained, primed and prepared personnel.


Census in Nigeria is long overdue and nothing could have aborted it at this critical and final stage, judging that Nigeria, as far as researchers and academics are concerned, has no reliable,up-to-date and valid data for planning and development in all facets of national life. The last census, as far as one can remember, was 17 years ago, between March 29 to April 2, 2006. Can this explain why nothing seem to be working in Nigeria?


Apart from the above, a lot of resources, financial, material and human, have been sunk into this exercise. Why this somersault?


To me, the postponement is a fatal blow and a blight to the credibility of this administration just as it is ill-advised. Most of the processes which gulped millions in foreign and local currencies will be undertaken afresh whenever the new date is fixed. Nigerian leaders seem to derive pleasure in avoidable wastes. If you want the incoming administration to fix the date, why not as well leave other projects for the incoming government to determine and simply sit, watch and wait for May 29 to hand over.


According to the Honourable Minister of Finance during the 2023 budget breakdown, the sum of N896billion was budgeted for the 2023 census. Just recently, the Federal Executive Council also approved the sum of N15.3billion for the installation of ICT equipment by NPC for the 2023 which they said “is on course”. One thinks that with all these preparations, the FG was politically, administratively and financially willing to conduct 2023 census which has been delayed for 17 years. This could have made the out-going administration go down in history as breaking the 17-year old jinx. Unfortunately, it has missed the mark.


To think that the postponement is just for a few months is living in delirious delusion. The incoming administration has to settle down, constitute the cabinet, make other appointments and call up the census file and the process starts afresh, grinding slowly and sluggishly, especially, administratively. Suitable time as it concerns weather condition has to be considered and it will not be anything less than this time next year because most places in Nigeria are already witnessing the rains and would soon be inaccessible. Also we should not discountenance the fact that the presidency is under litigation and nothing meaningful will be done in terms of governance until election petitions are disposed of.


Indeed, the colossal loss incurred as a result of this postponement is unquantifiable and it is an international embarrassment to the nation. This is also a breach of trust bestowed on the nation by the United Nations, donor agencies and other international organizations who have been getting assurances that the census process “is moving as planned”. Early in April, the Chairman of NPC was at the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, New York, USA, where he presented Nigeria’s statement on Population and Development and urged the global community to support the upcoming first digital population and housing census.


The question is, having gone this far and abruptly aborting the process, is there anything government does not want the masses to know?



Related posts