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Nigeria needs N869bn to conduct census

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By Abiodun Okunloye

46% of the budget has been provided, with an outstanding of N327.2 billion.

In Abuja, at a high-level partner engagement, the federal government stated that more than N869 billion would be required to carry out the population and housing census in 2023. Clement Agba, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, revelated this and confirmed that the federal government had supplied 46% of the budget. According to him, there is still a deficit of N327.2 billion in funding required to carry out the census successfully, which amounts to about 709.9 million US dollars.

He added that the figures sound huge when one hears them. Globally comparable censuses typically cost between $4 and $6. On the other hand, the average cost per person in the United States is $16. About $10 is spent on each person in Botswana. Therefore one will agree that Nigeria’s $6 per person is rather reasonable. The government has already spent 291.5 billion Naira, around $632 million, about 46% of what is needed to complete the census. This time, in addition to the population count, a housing census will also be conducted.

Nigeria’s last census was carried out in 2006, about two decades ago.

Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, stated in her remark that conducting a census had become necessary after nearly two decades had passed since the previous one was done in 2006. According to Ahmed, this will assist the country in its planning for future development, as well as providing reliable data for a variety of sectors as well as for Investment purposes. This March will mark 17 years since Nigeria’s previous national census.

Following the United Nations standards, Every ten years, a population and housing census is required to be carried out. The predetermined time frame enables the government to accurately record demographic changes, the age distribution, and the mobility of the population for the purpose of aligning public policy, as well as for making decisions about investments and passing laws. As it has been almost two decades since the last one, she argued, it is now more important than ever for Nigeria to undertake another census as outlined in the national development plan for 2021–2025.

The UNFPA will assist in effectively carrying out the census.

According to the minister, a nationwide census that will give insight and precise figures of Nigeria’s population would be carried out with the assistance of appropriate organizations like the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) to ensure the swift and effective coordination of the activities. She stated that the operation would make considerable use of digital Technology in order to produce results that were trustworthy, reliable, and acceptable, as the results would be necessary for making economic decisions.

Moreso, the UNFPA’s resident representative, Ulla Mueller, advocates for support for the country and affirms that the rising population is not a problem since it could create new possibilities. According to Mueller, there will probably be 450 million people living in Nigeria by the year 2050. He also stated that the country has the ability to choose to have 450 million strong citizens who are educated and polite and who are mindful of the potential and opportunities that a well-mannered population gives to this country. Or they could be 450 million people who are blind and base their decisions on ignorance.

Changes in government and other factors delayed the census activities.

Lastly, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning said the government hadn’t taken a census in nearly two decades due to factors like the change in government, the economic downturn, and COVID-19. He reassured the public that the census would be conducted digitally, sustainably, and radically changing how data is collected and analyzed. However, he noted that a significant obstacle to the project remained in the form of funding and concerns about privacy and cultural sensitivity. He said the government needs financial and in-kind donations to pay for items like tablets for enumerators, data connections, and training.


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