The topical issue on many Nigerians’ minds now is the forthcoming general elections. Many may have forgotten or not known that the National Population Commission recently indicated plans to conduct the long-overdue census in 2022.
Census is important to the planning of a nation. However, NPC under Nasir Isa Kwarra’s leadership had made efforts for new head counts many times, which were rebuffed either by lack of funds or by the nation’s leadership. Nasir Kwarra is occupying a highly exalted, yet tumultuous seat. This is so because he is in charge of a Commission that must meet the growing clamour for accurate and reliable population data of Nigeria. This clamour has reached the crescendo.
A recent report claims the Federal Government has concluded plans to hold a national census in April 2023. This relieving news says the census will come after the general elections slated for February and March 2023, while National Population Commission (NPC) is to conduct a pilot census in June.
No doubt, the Nasir Isa Kwarra led commission is committed and ready for a successful census, but it will not achieve this without the kind support and the cooperation of State Governments, Local Government Councils and stakeholders in the sensitization and mobilization of the populace in the selected LGAs for the smooth implementation of the Enumeration Area Demarcation updating exercise.
All things being equal, the forthcoming census will not be conducted through field survey, because the NPC leadership under Nasir Kwarra is working assiduously to ensure the forthcoming census is hitchfree and is modern-day technology compliant.
Carrying out the head count of a country’s population gulps much. Earlier the census was estimated to cost N272 billion, and the exercise also requires some necessary logistics. Information also has it that the commission is on the verge of commencing fieldwork processes for the first pre-test for population and housing census.
The agency had so far completed demarcation in over 600 local government areas out of the 774 in the country. After the demarcation and administering of questionnaires, NPC will go ahead with the exercise subject to the President’s approval.
As part of its preparedness for the much anticipated census, the commission recently undertook a range of activities such as the training of the trainers, which took place in April, in Abuja while the zonal training followed from May 31 to June 4, in six centres namely, Abuja, Enugu, Gombe, Katsina, Asaba and Ibadan, covering all the geopolitical zones of the country. One can feel the zest and zeal of the staffers of the Commission.
In fact, the National Population Commission will undertake the Updating Exercise of the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in some previously demarcated Local Government Areas in all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The objective of the Demarcation updating exercise is to bring the EAD maps up to date with the current realities on ground using the latest EADPad application and updated methodology to recapture and analyze the rate of change in the EA, building density and uses, household numbers and sizes and other visible physical changes on ground. The EAD updating exercise will cover LGAs previously demarcated under phases 3 to 9A between February 2017 and January, 2020 covering 170 LGAs across all the States of Nigeria and the FCT.
The field work for the (EAD) updating exercise commenced from 5th March, 2022 to 1st April, 2022. A 2-day refresher training was also organized for Demarcators and Supervisors on EAD updating techniques, methodology and workflow. The updating exercise also involved completion of mop-up exercise for some areas which could not be demarcated in previous phases of the EAD due to communal dispute and security threat. The completion of roads and buildings vectorization exercise will also be carried out simultaneously with the EAD updating exercise.
With these steps, it is apparent that Nigeria, through the NPC has adopted new technologies such as mobile devices, geospatial information systems and the Internet in phases of a census operation. NPC is proving that it is determined to get it right and make the process hitchfree, by putting in place accuracy and timely data for national economic and development planning.
With Nasir Isa Kwarra at the helm of affairs, the commission would not only deploy high technology in conduct of the census, it also will deploy its human resources at achieving this sole goal.
Nasir Kwarra once said at a recent event: “It is very crucial because I have highlighted that the census is a very important exercise for the nation. Through census, we generate the data used for policymaking, planning and development by the three tiers of government and the private sector.”
One thing that must be noted is that after the Senate confirmed the Nasarawa state born politician’s appointment as the Chairman, NPC in October 2020, he swung into action. Nasir Isa Kwarra put in place an effective leadership style at the commission, approving prompt payment of backlog of arrears and claims owed to staff members. These incentives have encouraged and boosted the morale of the staff members who are set for the tasks ahead.
He placed priority on registration of deaths and births, to streamline accurate data of births and numbers of deaths in Nigeria for accurate records.
This is in addition to ongoing renovation, rehabilitation of its headquarters, offices across the states, local government areas in the country, to make it a befitting edifice both for staff and visitors who daily thronged the offices for various inquiries.
With all these and other preparations the Commission has made, it is certain that the Nasir Isa Kwarra led NPC will deliver error free data on the Nation’s population in 2023, for proper planning and development of our dear country in 2023.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial team of TheScript Newspaper