In a press briefing held at the National Population Commission’s headquarters in Abuja today, the Director of the Public Affairs Department, Dr. Isiaka Yahaya, addressed the controversies surrounding the expenditure of N200 billion on preparatory activities for the upcoming 2023 Population and Housing Census. Dr. Yahaya expressed gratitude to the Nigerian media for their informative reporting and emphasized the importance of their role in mobilizing the public for a successful census.
During a breakfast meeting with media executives on May 18, 2023, the Chairman of the National Population Commission, Hon Nasir Isa Kwarra, disclosed that N200 billion had been spent thus far on preparations for the 2023 Census. The Chairman, along with other officials, elaborated on the significant progress made and the innovative measures implemented for Nigeria’s first-ever digital census.
However, certain sections of the media sensationalized the headline, focusing solely on the expenditure figure and neglecting the substantive achievements and advancements discussed during the event. This skewed reporting, coupled with comments from individuals who did not attend the briefing, created a misleading narrative that the Commission had recklessly squandered funds on a failed census.
To clarify the situation, Dr. Yahaya provided a comprehensive breakdown of the N200 billion expenditure, emphasizing that this amount was not solely spent in recent weeks or months but accumulated over a span of several years since 2014. The primary preparatory activities involved the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD), which divided the country’s 774 Local Government Areas into Enumeration Areas. The EAD project, executed digitally from 2014 to 2022, required substantial investment in satellite imagery, logistics, and training of ad-hoc workers.
Furthermore, the Commission conducted multiple test runs, workshops, and a Trial Census to ensure the appropriateness of methodologies, questionnaires, and systems for the upcoming census. Significant costs were incurred for personnel training, equipment procurement, and software development. The acquisition of hardware, particularly 810,000 Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for data collection, constituted a substantial portion of the overall expenditure.
Other cost elements included vehicle and equipment procurement, office renovations, power supply infrastructure, and extensive training programs for supervisors and enumerators. The Commission also invested in mobilizing the citizenry and raising awareness through publicity campaigns, roadshows, and grassroots sensitization initiatives.
Dr. Yahaya highlighted the long-term benefits of the preparatory activities, such as the generation of geospatial data and the creation of a database of young individuals for future youth empowerment programs. The expenditure made by the Commission has laid the foundation for future censuses, ensuring their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The Director concluded the briefing by assuring the public of the Commission’s transparency and willingness to provide further clarification if needed. He called upon the Nigerian media to continue reporting truthfully and professionally on the 2023 Census, urging their support in achieving a successful and meaningful national assignment.
The National Population Commission remains committed to delivering credible, reliable, and acceptable census data that will facilitate sustainable development in Nigeria.