The Federal Government has again shelved the national population and housing census to 2018. The exercise which was earlier schefuled to hold in 2016 was initially pushed forward to this year due to lack of adequate preparations but has had to be further postponed to next year.
The exercise, it was learnt, will gulp approximately N272 billion as it would cost the National Population Commission (NPC) about $8bn to enumerate every citizen. Nigeria has an estimated population of 140 million people according to the 2006 census.
Chairman , National Population Commission, Dr Eze Duru-Iheoma, disclosed yesterday that the latest postponement was because contrary to expectations there was no provision for the exercise in the 2017 Appropriation Bill currently before the National Assembly.
Duru-Iheoma, who dropped these hints while featuring on Radio Link, a Radio Nigeria current affairs programme monitored in Abuja. The NPC boss disclosed that even though the commission had commenced the preliminary exercise known as Enumeration Area Demarcation ( EAD), the exercise had been hindered by paucity of funds.
He also said that there has not been the mandatory presidential proclamation on the census which could have triggered support from international development partners.
According to him there was need for adequate preparations for the next census as the NPC was poised to deploy modern technology to conduct the next census.
He said that not only will the commission make use of satellite inageties but will deploy direct capture system to collect the photographic and biometric information of ‘ every citizen.
Underlining the need for a presidential proclamation, Duru-Iheona said it was a convention which if applied could alert the world and unlock the pool of funds expected from the international development partners.
On the inclusion of data relating to ethnicity and religion, he said these were vital statistics that should be captured to present an over all picture of the population diversity in the country.
However, another discussant on the panel, Prof. Rhoda Mundi of the University of Abuja expressed a different view on the issue, arguing that including religion and ethnicity could produce results that might create more tension in the country.
According to her, politicians and other interest groups might use such information to cause mischief and create avoidable chaos in the polity The Director General, National Population Commission, Dr Ismaila Bello who was also a guest on the programme emphasised the need for Nigerians to cooperate with the commission to conduct a reliable census whenever the federal government give the marching orders for it to commence.