THE 2023 NATIONAL POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS IN NIGERIA
Nigeria will conduct her first Population and Housing Census in ten years from May 3 to 7, 2023 with the theme “You Count, Be Counted.” This theme is apt as Nigeria has an urgent need to know its exact population.
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. Census provides data, facts and figures for institutional and national planning; it also enables governments across the world to understand the housing and demographic wellbeing and deficit of the people in a nation.
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 planning, growth and development.
Nigeria, as the most populous nation in Africa and the most populous black nation on earth, has been using 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 for its planning.
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 report predicted a slow rate from the current 2.62percent to 2.04 percent by the year 2050.
The National Population and Housing Census scheduled for May 3, to May 7, 2023 is to give the correct enumeration of people living in the country to create data for planning and development purposes in the country.
The census will enable Nigeria collect information on socio-demographic data on the population which include literacy, fertility, mortality, migration, assets owned and usage of Information Communication Technology, ICT.
Other information to be garnered includes housing, type of houses, household amenities, sanitation amongst others.
This is expected to give planners of both government and non-governmental organizations accurate information of the number of people both foreigners and citizens living in Nigeria.
The census otherwise, national count, will also capture who they are, where they are, what they do for a living as well as their living conditions.
The process gives government at all levels reliable information to plan for provision of the basic needs of the people such as social and economic amenities like schools, hospitals, housing, markets, electricity, roads and sanitation.
The information generated during the Census would not just stop at the government confers alone. It will also aid the private sector to plan their businesses and also look at areas of investment.
International bodies such as the United Nations, International Monetary Funds, IMF, World Banks and other development partners will also utilize the data generated from the Population and Housing Census when planning for Nigeria.
It is therefore a people oriented project that requires the cooperation and support of the people at every stage of its implementation.
The Nigerian government must come up with strong and aggressive sensitization campaigns to educate its citizenry and all residents in the country to ensure they are counted.
The national population and housing census is not an election where you must vote only where you registered rather it’s a national count which requires you to be counted at your place of residence.
The exodus of people leaving their places of residence to their State of Origin during census defeats the whole idea of the national count. This does not give the true reflection of the data collated at some communities or States at the end of the day.
This was a case in point involving the last national count in 2006 where similar issue was raised regarding the figures of some States and the Federal Capital Territory that were contested.
The National Population Commission must device effective strategies at ensuring that religion, cultural and traditional cleavages would not hinder accurate head count in any community in Nigeria.
Equipment, gadgets, machines and materials deployed for demographic and data capturing must be functional at all cost.
It is when these salient areas are adhered to that the Nigeria’s National Population and Housing census will not only be adjudged to be credible, acceptable, reliable but would meet international standards.