Nigeria has not conducted a population census since 2006. This was 17 years ago. There have been speculations that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was supposed to conduct another census in 2016. However, it would not be until this year that the National Population Commission (NPC) announced a date for the first census in 17 years. The commission has also detailed the role technology will play in the exercise. According to the NPC, the 2023 Census will be Nigeria’s first digital census.
The commission has, on its official website, scheduled March 29 to April 2, 2023 for the census. The NPC has done a demarcation of enumeration areas covering the entire territorial space of Nigeria using mobile handheld devices and geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite imageries to create the digital census maps. The digital frame produced is a major tool for the planning of human and material resources for the census. The commission says that this determines the enumerators’ assignment areas and forms a basis for distribution of materials during the census.
Personal Digital Assistant devices will be used to capture information.
As part of the announcement, the NPC stated on its website that electronic forms hosted in Personal Digital Assistant devices will be used to capture information on all buildings, households and persons in the enumeration areas. The handlers of these devices have already started receiving training. The training is said to include self-learning studies and online training with monitored simulated hands-on and in-person classroom training. The potential workers are being trained on how to handle census forms, census applications, data capturing processes, interpersonal communication, and basic troubleshooting of Computer Assisted Personal Interviews.
This census will also take houses into account per usual. More than a decade ago, the census workers came to number every house and paste a sticker as well. This time round, digital maps will be used as against using paper maps like it was done in the past. This tallies with the NPC’s determination to make the process paperless. While the wordings of the NPC’s website announcement is quite vague, the general deduction from it is that the enumerator should get to the people’s house no earlier than 12:01 a.m. on March 29 and no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 2, 2023.
A household constitutes people who live together.
The commission categorically noted that a household has to be people who live and “eat” together as a family and with a family head. In such a case, this is the mother, the father, or the most senior family member. The NPC also further categorized families. There will be Regular Households, which consist of nuclear or closely-knit extended families. Furthermore, there will be Institutional Households, where residents have a long or short stay, such as in hospitals, correctional centers, boarding schools, etc. Next will be floating or transient, which will include visiting family members, nomads, etc. And then, there will be IDPs (internally displaced persons) – those who live in camps or are homeless.
On the area of data privacy, the NPC acknowledged that it owes a level of confidentiality to the general public and has promised to destroy names of individuals immediately after analyzing the results. The commission added that it will ensure that no information will be released in a way that will enable users of census data to identify any individual or household. The commission has also adopted inclusive terms. For instance, it has replaced “Persons living with disabilities” with “Persons living with difficulties in performing certain tasks.”
NPC opts for a digital census for more accurate results.
Just as other government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are pivoting to accommodate ICT, the NPC prides in going digital for this edition of the population census because it ensures accuracy of data and time efficiency. Other MDAs such as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC), etc. are migrating from a manual mode of service-rendering to a paperless, digital one. Although this process that the NPC has adopted will require patience and honesty, it is about time something like this was done.