Home Opinion For a more accurate population census in Nigeria, By Jonas Odocha

For a more accurate population census in Nigeria, By Jonas Odocha

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President Muhammadu Buhari

As Nigeria plans to embark on a national population census in 2023, it is important that everyone is carried along, in order to appreciate the importance and the need for an accurate national population census. Conventional wisdom coupled with management practice teaches us that we cannot manage what we fail to measure. Therefore such an official count of our population carried out periodically, should help us in genuine national planning and development.

We must admit that out of ignorance we have been tempted, in the past, to manipulate and inflate census figures, as a means of gaining political or economic advantage, without realising the negative impact on planning and management of human resources. Today different conflicting national population figures are being bandied around by officials and individuals, and such figures do not signify sincerity of purpose. It is therefore important that we use this opportunity to change this mindset and produce an accurate population figure for Nigeria, which should be used to portray information covering the distribution of human resources with regard to sex, age, ethnicity, religion, jobs and the like. Data gathering in this exercise, when fully packaged, is therefore essential; it is the misappropriation and misapplication of such data that must be discouraged.

One therefore wonders why there is this decision to exclude the collection of data with respect to ethnicity and religion in the planned 2023 population census. Meanwhile virtually all official documents require individuals to state their ethnicity via their state of origin and also to indicate their religion. Is this also not the tool employed by the government in the Federal Character and Quota System Principles? This census exercise must not be seen as a RESIDENCY HEAD-COUNT but indeed a NATIONAL POPULATION CENSUS. We ought to aim to capture the FULL DETAIL of every Nigerian, wherever they reside. It is important that such data depicts the actual population of Nigerians, even when they are outside of their respective states, instead of requiring them to return to such states for data capture. When data is captured inclusive of religion, it also helps to properly determine amenities that may require or call for the numerical strength of various religious adherents. We must not shy away from this basic reality. Let us consider this scenario: As I am an indigene of State A but resident in State B, it is only fair that my RESIDENCY is accorded to State B but my population count should be accorded to State A, which is my state of origin. It is rather negative and suspicious to subsume the fuller details of individuals when you deny them their ethnic and religious identity in a NATIONAL POPULATION CENSUS, but insist on applying such in other clandestine requirements. That is not sincerity of purpose. Period! 

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