The National Population Commission will meet with Bola Tinubu before his inauguration to discuss new census dates.
On Saturday, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said that President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had ordered the indefinite postponement of the census originally scheduled for May 3–7, 2023.
The minister indicated the incoming administration would set the date.
It was learned from an NPC official on Saturday that the commission’s top hierarchy would meet with Tinubu in the coming days to tell him about the postponement, measure his reaction, and potentially get his input on when the census would now take place.
The anonymous official told one of our correspondents, “We don’t have anything else to say other than what the Minister of Information and Culture said in his statement. Federal policy.
I can only add that the commission will engage the incoming President before his May 29 inauguration. Just like we have been meeting with the outgoing administration, we will meet with His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the new census date to gauge his feelings and know his direction, but we cannot suggest a date.
After meeting with some Federal Executive Council members at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday, NPC Chairman Nasir Kwarra and his staff postponed the headcount.
Mohammed said, “In arriving at the decision to postpone the census, the meeting reiterated the critical need for a population and housing census 17 years after the last census, to collect up-to-date data that will drive the developmental goals of the country and improve the living standard of the Nigerian people.”
The minister quoted the President as saying that the 2023 Population and Housing Census had made significant progress with the completion of the Enumeration Area Demarcation, first and second pre-tests, recruitment and training of ad hoc workers, procurement of Personal Digital Assistants and ICT infrastructures.
He also praised the commission’s methods for conducting an accurate and trustworthy census, notably the utilization of technology that can deliver a world-class census and establish the groundwork for future censuses.
Buhari ordered the NPC to prepare for the census to maintain gains and provide the future administration a foundation.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Mohammed, Clem Agba, and Boss Mustapha attended Friday’s meeting.
Due to the general election, the census was postponed until May from March.
Kwarra told diplomats in Abuja on April 27 that the commission had not yet purchased all census gadgets.
“We need 800,000 PADs for the country, and we’ve bought 500,000. “The rest are coming in a few days,” he said.
Kwarra said the NPC expected donations from the organized private sector and other stakeholders.
The commission postponed local government supervisor and enumerator training on April 12 due to “emerging issues.”
“The commission wishes to inform the general public that the LGA-level training of supervisors and enumerators scheduled to commence tomorrow, April 13, 2023 has been postponed due to some emerging issues,” it added. The new date will be announced.
“We assure Nigerians that the commission remains committed to a credible and acceptable 2023 Population and Housing Census and that all preparations are in top gear.”
The NPC didn’t start training until Saturday’s census postponement.
In March, Agba said the census required N869bn, with the government committing N291.5bn and needing N327.2bn.
The minister noted, “The total requirement for the census (including post-census activities) is N869bn ($1.88bn): census requirement – N626bn ($1.36bn), which is about $6 per capita (just slightly above the threshold of up to $5 per capita); post-census (up to 2025) is N243bn ($527m).
“The government has committed N291.5bn ($632m) to the census, 46% of the total funding. The census needs N327.2bn ($709.9m) immediately.
Dele Alake, the president-elect’s Special Adviser, declined to comment, stating Tinubu’s opinion should not be sought over an incumbent President’s decision.
Has President Buhari resigned? The president-elect should comment on an incumbent president’s choice. Why? Before you pressure him, let him be inaugurated.
“So many political issues shouldn’t be an incoming President’s concern.”We’re ready—NPC
Dr. Isiaka Yahaya, NPC Director of Public Affairs, said, “The postponement was not a product of our own lack of preparedness. We weren’t unprepared because we didn’t do LGA training. Several events led to this postponement. The LGA training planted the postponement seed, and yesterday’s proposal was a correlation.
“It wasn’t because the NPC wasn’t prepared because even at that time, we were to deploy our personnel and equipment, but some consultation happened and we couldn’t proceed with the LGA training, which led to the Minister of Information’s announcement. We need to clarify that we weren’t unprepared or had logistics concerns. We had all the systems and methods to perform the census, but many causes started emerging at that time.”
He also denied that the census was postponed due to funding issues.
“The second is that it is not due to lack of funds,” Yahaya said. The Federal Government has backed us throughout the process. Thus, funds are not the cause.
“The census is a tool. We want to use census data, so those who will use it must be part of the process and understand why and how we get it. That’s the new administration. So don’t just give them data—explain how we conducted the census.
They may own the process and use the data faithfully. Very important. A census conducted by one administration and used by another will be messy. The rescheduling addressed these difficulties.
More importantly, the nation’s mood is very important; many stakeholders have raised the issue that after the elections, the nation’s wound must be healed. Of course, that is not a primary concern for the commission, but for the Federal Government, which is responsible for peace and security, it must have been considered to arrive at that decision.”
The NPC spokesman said, “Since the primary objective is to achieve the ultimate objective of utilisation of the data, we are very much in tune with that decision to postpone. We also realized that censuses are not enough; usage is crucial.
“The UNFPA and other partners are fine with our consultations. They’re fine with that data-accurate choice.
If the next administration wants the census on June 2, we’re ready since we’ve done everything. In any event, the President, in authorizing the postponement, authorized the commission to prepare as if it will take place relatively quickly, so we don’t worry that the incoming administration will conduct the census. The methods are transparent, so clients can trust that the output will be accurate and reliable whenever they ask us to do it.”
Obi, Ortom applaud delay
In the recent general election, Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi praised the Federal Government’s census deferral.
Obi said Saturday that the postponement was good and required for adequate planning and thoroughness.
Obi tweeted that while Nigeria was “long overdue” for a census, “conducting one requires proper planning and diligence to ensure the sanctity of the results; the efficacy of the data gathered therefrom, as well as their utility in driving national development goals.”
It is intended that the census would enhance confidence rather than cause controversy.
On Saturday, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, praised Buhari for postponing the census.
On April 13, Ortom asked the Federal Government to delay the census until security was assured. The governor argued that holding the census would be unfair and deprive millions of Nigerians who had been driven from their ancestral homes and living in Internally driven Persons camps in the state and elsewhere.
With the census postponed, the governor urged the federal government should help Nigerians whose areas were overrun by bandits and armed herders return home.
Ortom said the nation’s growth and development must prioritize people’s lives and well-being.
Abdulkareem Lawan, Borno State House of Assembly Speaker, commended the President for postponing the census.
On Saturday in Maiduguri, Lawan told journalists that the majority of residents of the 10 local government areas in Northern Borno, who have been displaced by Boko Haram for over a decade, needed to be returned home to be counted.
He stated the 2023 census would violate the human rights of many IDPs and refugees.