The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has made an appeal to President Bola Tinubu, urging him to postpone the national census until the security situation in the country improves. Expressing deep concern over the escalating insecurity in Nigeria, the MBF drew attention to the significant displacement of numerous Nigerians, particularly in the Middle Belt region.
In a recent statement, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the National President of the MBF, highlighted the recent visit of Alhaji Nasir Kwarra and officials from the National Population Commission (NPC) to the Presidential Villa. Dr. Bitrus noted that it was revealed during the visit that Tinubu would soon announce a new date for the 2023 national population and housing census, which had been suspended by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Strongly opposing the NPC’s position, the MBF emphasized the prevailing insecurity in the country, specifically in the Middle Belt region. The forum’s leaders argued that the success and accuracy of the census could only be achieved if there was a guarantee of security.
The MBF leaders stated, “Conducting a population and housing census when certain territories are under the control of foreign terrorists and millions of Nigerians have been displaced by ruthless criminals is unthinkable.” They further expressed their concerns about the situation in Southern Borno, where Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked communities, leading to the displacement of residents. They also highlighted the devastating losses and forced displacements in states like Plateau, Niger, Benue, and Kaduna.
The MBF strongly criticized the renaming of these affected communities by foreign occupiers, which they claim has been happening under the watch of security forces, demonstrating blatant illegality.
Given the ongoing conflicts tearing the country apart, the MBF deemed it unreasonable for the NPC to urge President Tinubu to set new dates for the suspended census. The forum urged the President to consider the prevailing security challenges and the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) before proceeding with the census.
The MBF emphasized that conducting a census during troubled times would only grant legitimacy to the perpetrators of genocidal attacks on defenseless communities. They stressed the need to prioritize the restoration of order and the provision of adequate security across the nation in order to ensure a transparent and accurate headcount.
In conclusion, the Middle Belt Forum called upon President Tinubu to take into account the security concerns and the plight of the displaced individuals before moving forward with the census, in order to ensure the restoration of peace and security across the country.