Why population census may not hold by 2018
The world may not know the real population of Nigeria in 2018.
The Federal Government did not make provision for the National Population Commission (NPC) to carry out the exercise in the 2017 Appropriation which had been signed into law by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
According to a schedule of activities for the 2018 head count, the NPC was to commence pre-census activities this year which would gulp N33 billion for Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD), purchase of technological devices (Data Capture Android) and other critical equipment. The overall expenditure for the exercise is N272 billion.
Despite the time lag in putting logistics together for the 2018 head count, the NPC only got N5.6 billion in this year’s budget, just enough for its overhead cost.
Muhammad Isah, director of public affairs at the NPC had told The Guardian in May that all plans had been concluded to conduct the census once funds were released.
“As soon as we get funds to go ahead with activities lined up, we will mobilise (enumerators) to the other local councils and see what we can do before the year runs out,” Isah said.
Besides, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had spoken against the 2018 census on the ground that it might be marred by political interests ahead the 2019 general elections.
“If you conduct census at the time of elections, there will be so much pressure, crisis and the lure for people to manipulate the figures for political reasons, such that the agency cannot even cope with,” Dogara said.
But constitutional lawyer and President of Voters Awareness Initiative (VAI), Wale Ogunade, disagreed that census figures could serve the interest of election manipulators.
“The era of imaginary voters are gone with the introduction of the card reader. So, the issue of population is not a factor in rigging election anymore because every voter will be accredited physically,” Ogunade said.
He advised the federal government to make a supplementary budget for the NPC so that it could conduct the census next year because its figures would aid government’s planning and effective governance.
Analysts said that the current population assumption of the country puts the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at advantage.
Kano State is an APC stronghold and was ranked the most populous in Nigeria in the 2006 census.
President Muhammadu Buhari got 1.9 million votes in Kano, more than all the votes Lagos State recorded in the same election for all the candidates. Yet, Lagos has more registered voters than Kano.
Kano voters are 4.9 million while Lagos has 5.8 million.
Director General of the NPC, Eze Duruiheoma, refused to respond to a question our correspondent asked him through text whether the census would still hold in 2018 given that no provision was made for it in the budget. His reply was: “Come to the office.”