The Presidential nod to the 2023 Census

Census in Nigeria has faced so many challenges emanating from ethnic and religious suspicions, traditional belief systems with hardcore taboos and all. For instance, in Igbo tradition and cosmology, it is a taboo for an Igbo father to tell or number his children.


There are certainly many of such negative versions in the over 500 linguistically diverse groups in Nigeria.


In some strange religious doctrines, sects warn their members to disregard the family planning advocacy by the health experts and other population control measures out of fear of domination by other ethnic and religious groups.

We can easily recall the case of the polio vaccine a few years ago, where hard suspicion was rife that it was aimed at annihilation of some tribes and was so vehemently opposed and those involved abstained till the Federal Government mounted a serious campaign that disabused the minds of the affected citizensIn his many avowals, Alhaji Isa Kwarra, the census boss and his numerous Commissioners in the 36 states and Abuja have not left anybody in doubt but have unequivocally stated that the 2023 census is aimed at obtaining true and factual demographic figures in accordance with the international best practices.

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Is it not shocking that children from 17 year olds to zero are not part of the Nigerian population if not by estimative values?As far as the shift in the date of Census 2023 is concerned, the Commission has been optimistic, constantly preaching the message to citizens that there is a huge advantage in the postponement just as it is better to be late than never. Election especially in Africa is a big exercise that cannot be conducted simultaneously with census even when they share affinity as necessary national activities.Just as you do not need a meteorologist to tell you the direction of the wind, there would have been a big clash in dates and substance if the census went on as previously arranged.


The 2023 Census, unfortunately had suffered several postponements, but most observers and census pundits agree that the postponement is well intended as to ensure objectivity and fairness.As one commissioner stated, taking a future date could lead to a better result as to be accountable, reliable and auditable.It could be recalled that the last elections suffered serious setbacks occasioned by changes in the February dates which strayed into the month of March. Recent developments have shown high degree of incongruence in the two if handled at the same time.


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Think about petitions and court cases swelling up the courts and attendant buzzy tribunals.No doubt, if this census was allowed in the previously scheduled date, there would have been chaos. Consider the numbers involved in the elections, ranging from the judiciary officers, lawyers, witnesses and spectators not excluding media and crew.


Could all these have been available for the headcount in their delineated respective homes? Could the present heavy rains coupled with the surging and ravaging floods like the cases of Delta State, Bayelsa, Trade More Estate in Lugbe Abuja and other riverine areas have allowed the enumerators easy access and movement?


Therefore, the shift possibly to the dry season will offer a better and excellent opportunity for the headcount, more so, giving a breathing space to the new administration at the Federal level.


On a good note, the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, despite his busy schedules made out time last Thursday, July 11 2023, to have audience with National Population Commission where he urged the Chairman to take advantage of the postponement especially with the technological updates as Hon Isa Kwarra Presented a paper titled ‘Implementation Status of the 2023 Population and Housing Census.


’The chairman did not hesitate to point out where the shoe pinched most: The release of the 2023 budgetary allocation, of 31 billion, additional 225.2 billion to cover for training and field work allowances, issues of retraining and conduct of a second class trial census. The other good news is that NPC through its mapping and geospatial data made available to researchers has earned some millions and can make more money if the system is perfected.


The Chairman gave the good news of having on ground a database that will oil national planning, infrastructural development and all. These will certainly be of advantage to the entire country.


Equally encouraging and greatly commendable are that the Commission had taken time to brief all, including the religious and traditional authorities in all parts of the federation.


We commend the zeal of the chairman of the Commission and his team in briefing the President early enough and thank the President in return for making out the time despite his busy schedule. Other African countries are looking up to Nigeria to show the way.


Envious of these milestones by the Commission, two groups, HURIWA and the Middle Belt Forum for some irrelevant reasons have opposed the Census, but according to Winston Churchill, the great British Prime Minister and statesman, ‘you will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.’



Eddie Onuzuruike writes from Abuja


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