A professor of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan, Olabisi Ugbebor, and the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale, have warned Nigeria to stop using population census as a political weapon, but to use it as a planning instrument for socio-economic development of the country.
Until this is done, they said, Nigeria will not make any meaningful economic progress that could make it a force in the comity of nations.
They made the comments recently in separate interventions at this year’s edition of the annual mathematics conference and exhibition organised by the Mathematics for Life Foundation, held in Lagos.
While Professor Ugbebor was a lead paper presenter at the event, the fifth in the series, Dr Kale was a keynote speaker.
At the event, Messrs Ibrahim Emmanuel from Emir Haruna Rashid College, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and Aro Presley Olusegun, a 300-level Economics and Statistics student of the University of Benin were presented with star prizes for winning this year’s secondary and tertiary school category of the foundation’s national essay competition respectively.
Speaking on the theme of the colloquium, ‘The Mathematics of Census: Population, Planning and National Development’, Professor Ugbebor said Nigeria has both human and material potential for greatness, especially as regards its huge population, but for the people in the corridors of political power and politicians using census for political gains.
According to her, census is not only about number but the totality of people as regards all that concern them in their geographical locations, and this must be carried out in honesty and transparency.
Kale on his part, who was represented at the forum by Mr B. M. Harry, said every government at all levels needs good statistics to enable it to plan for enabling environment for sustainable development.
“Nigeria should make census a priority for socioeconomic transformation and development and nothing else,” he further advised.
In his welcome address earlier, the president of the Mathematics for Life Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, Mr Omoniyi Osuntuyi, had said beyond gathering experts to offer practicable mathematical solutions to a particular socioeconomic challenge confronting the country, the foundation was using the annual event to arouse interest of students in the study of mathematics and other science subjects.
He noted that the investment so far had encouraged healthy rivalry among Nigerian students and had contributed significantly to the quality of education in the country.