THE NEED FOR A NEW NATIONAL POPULATION CENSUS IN NIGERIA
Bitrus Kozah, Abuja
Population Census is a periodic process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analyzing and publishing or disseminating demographic, economic and social data on all persons in a delineated part of a country. The census can also be conducted on the entire population of a country.
This periodic but routine census is often done within a span of five to ten years depending on the country. The census provides facts and figures for institutional and national planning; it also enables governments across the world to understand the housing and demographical wellbeing and deficit of the people.
In every country, the population is one of the major features that capture landmass, water, age distribution and gender or any other resource that should be harnessed for growth and development.
Nigeria, as the most populous nation in Africa and the most populous black nation on earth, depends on previous projections on its actual figure as it has not had a population census since 2006. The country relies on figures from different sources based on acceptable parameters that may not be holistic and completely accurate.
The world population review report of 2021 placed Nigeria as the seventh most populated nation in the world with two hundred and thirteen million, one hundred and sixteen thousand, two hundred and twelve people across the thirty-six States and the Federal capital Territory, Abuja.
The report also indicated that Nigeria’s population growth in the five year interval had grown faster than its peers with similar size. However, the 2021 reports predicted slow rate from the current 2.62 percent to 2.04 percent by the year 2050.
Nigeria’s demographics also showed that the population is relatively young for both males and females with medium age placed at eighteen point four years. Nigeria records a split between males and females that are quite even with one point zero four males to every one female except for older people where females out-numbered males after sixty-five years of age.
The need for a reliable population data cannot be over emphasized as such figures are critical in decision making, policy formulation, resource allocation as well as planning purposes.
Accurate population facts and figures are also useful in the areas of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Product (GNP), Per Capita Income in the country, data for health and research, including what and where to invest.
In fact, bio-data on gender, age groups and regions such as men and women, children, young and old people, population per square meters etc., are in dire need for the nation’s growth and development.
Understanding a country’s number of ethnic groups, area demarcations, religion, educational background amongst others, could only be properly addressed through national census.
Today, Nigeria’s population is based on reports by various governmental, non-governmental organizations and agencies as a product of projection and estimates using international parameters provided by the world population fund and reports.
Without an updated census, Nigeria will continue to depend on such figures that would not be adequate for planning and data analysis for the desired growth and development.
The non-availability of a current and correct national census in Nigeria will continue to erode the giant of Africa the right statistics for modern effective digital planning and development.
This also in its entirety hampers the equitable distribution of the available but scarce resources of the country.
The need for national population and housing census in Nigeria is long overdue. There is therefore, the need to conduct such national head count in order not just to put the population of the people right, but also to address the country’s issues that are related to population density, distribution of needed critical infrastructure and other development agenda.