The Senate has provided assurance that the eagerly anticipated population and housing census, scheduled for November this year, will proceed as planned.
Yesterday, in Abuja, during the screening of 17 out of the 19 commissioner-nominees for the National Population Commission (NPC), Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Identity and Population, observed that coincidentally, many of the nominees are returning for a second time.
He said: “It is a renomination and we have perused their credentials presented in the first instance, compared to the ones they. have just presented.”
It is worth noting that Nigeria has relied on estimated figures for several years, as the last census was conducted in 2006 by the National Population Commission, resulting in a population figure of 140 million.
The previous administration under former President Muhammadu Buhari initially planned to conduct another census in 2022, which was later rescheduled to 2023. However, just before leaving office, President Buhari indefinitely suspended the exercise, stating that he would defer the announcement of new census dates to President Bola Tinubu.
Recently, President Tinubu affirmed his administration’s commitment to supporting the forthcoming census, emphasizing its significance in various aspects of national planning.
Expanding on this, Senator Ningi highlighted that the execution of the census hinges on the political will of the government, underscoring Nigeria’s 11-year gap since the last conducted census.
He said: “We are almost 11 years without taking the United Nations resolution on population which comes almost every seven years.
“I am sure with the political will, this is possible, it’s doable, the commission is ready, the personnel are ready. All we need do is the announcement by the President that the population census is coming on a date and once he says it, the international observers will now come in with their support.
“Without the President’s declaration, no one will send a kobo to Nigeria to support population census. Seventy-five per cent of the logistics in terms of machines, in terms of training of the personnel have been completed.
“All we need to do is for the President to have the political will, and commitment to say the census is taking place and we cannot postpone it.”
Ningi said further that the population census is the basic crux of human development, adding that without the census, no plan could be executed.
“That is why it is difficult now to ascertain the exact population. Even pro-rata, how many are Nigerians because of lack of political will,” Ningi said.
He explained that since the population issue was on the front burner, all efforts are underway to ensure its takeoff, saying “The nominees should realise the importance of the assignment before them. The last time we had a national census was more than a decade ago.
“No nation improves nor develops without knowing its number and therefore, this is a unique assignment that the nominees will face in due course.
“This is because we are going to face the national census. And you have been selected because of your pedigree, your experience and exposure to the system.
“It is very imperative while you are on that duty, we must see ourselves as Nigerians. There is no basis for any competition; whether there are more Hausa people than Igbo people or Yoruba than Tivs.
“That is not the essence of population count. The essence is to be able to develop a mechanism where we lay a developmental plan that will meet the aspirations of our peoples.”
Earlier, the Chairman of National Population Commission, NPC, Nasir Kwarra, said: “We have been waiting for the screening long time ago. Thank God we are here today.
“Out of the 19 nominees sent, two will not be here, because the commissioner representing Ondo has been appointed Secretary to the State Government, Ondo.
“The commissioner representing Ogun, he contested House of Assembly election. Initially, he wasn’t declared winner. The court gave him the seat. So he is not going to be sworn in.”
In her presentation, the nominee for Kaduna State, Sa’adatu Dogon Bauchi, appreciated President Bola Tinubu for finding the women among the nominees worthy to serve as commissioners in the NPC.
She said: “We women were given a soft landing. We appreciate the President on the trust. As women, we will give our best.
‘’Women are trying. we will continue to do our best. This census will be done well. The machinery to be used will bring the best. We will not fail Nigerians.”
The individuals who underwent screening include Sa’adatu Dogon Bauchi from Kaduna State; Emmanuel Eke from Abia; Dr. Clifford Zirra from Adamawa; Mr. Chidi Ezeoke from Anambra; Isa Buratai from Borno; Bishop Alex Ukam from Cross River; Blessyn Brume-Ataguba from Delta; Dr. Jeremiah Nwankwegu from Ebonyi; Dr. Tony Aiyejina from Edo; Ejike Ezeh from Enugu; Abubakar Damburam from Gombe; Prof. Uba Nnabue from Imo; Dr. Aminu Tsanyawa from Kano; Yori Afolabi from Kogi; Mary Afan from Plateau; Saany Sale from Taraba; and Ogiri Henry from Rivers.
However, two nominees, Olakunle Sobukola from Ogun and Temitayo Oluwatiyi from Ondo, were absent from the screening.