Amidst the spate of insecurity and economic downturn, the country’s exact population is still unknown, as the Federal Government (FG) repeatedly failed to conduct census.
Although this is against the ten years United Nations (UN) recommendations, Nigeria unfortunately, does not have a law compelling the government to hold census every decade.
The National Population Commission (NPC) is saddled with the statutory powers to collect, analyze and disseminate demographic data in the country. It is also mandated to undertake demographic sample surveys, compile, collate and publish migration and civil registration statistics as well as monitor the country’s Population Policy.
However, since the last exercise in 2006, Nigeria is yet to conduct another census, leaving the country to plan on the United Nations(UN) 200million projection.
The next population and housing census were due in 2016 but the FG failed to make proclamations to this effect.
Eze Duruiheoma, the former Chairman, NpopC had in 2018 blamed the delay on lack of funding stating that the exercise, as at the time, would gulp N222billion.
Apart from funding, the former Chairman said there was no proclamation from the President, Muhammadu Buhari and lack of legislation for the periodic conduct of the census.
As a result, the uncertainties surrounding the actual population figure of the country have continued to linger, thus impacting on adequate planning for Nigerians.
In his valedictory speech in 2019, Duruiheoma had recommended the amendment of the Population Act to make provision for the conduct of census every 10 years in line with United Nations recommendations.
He stated that the law would help address the challenges of data gathering even as he stressed the importance of data for national planning.
Recently, the House of Representatives urged the FG to ensure the conduct of the exercise in 2020 to have credible data if the country’s population.
Hon. Ademorin Kuye in a motion argued that without accurate data, the government will continue to fail in providing adequately for its citizens.
Meanwhile, a highly placed source at the NpopC headquarters, Abuja who would not want to be mentioned, hinted that the FG has commenced process towards conducting the exercise.
According to the source, delay behind the census in the past had political undertones coupled with a lack of funding to conduct pre-census activities.
However, he said:”…there is some underground work ongoing on the census. It is not that nothing is being done. In fact, they have constituted the board to an extent and anytime from now, a substantive Chairman will be appointed. You know what we currently have is an acting Chairman,” he said
Also, he said once the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) is completed, the FG would announce a date.
The source further disclosed that the insecurity situation in the country is a major setback but added that all States in the country would be captured in the exercise
“Government is trying to give us enough money to do the EAD, once it is completed, the government will announce the date. Asides, I am sure that the insecurity situation in the country is slowing down the decision,” the source added.