Yoruba group: Why proposed census is a misplaced priority

A group, the Yoruba Global Alliance, has faulted the proposed population census across the country by the Federal Government despite the prevailing security challenges in Nigeria.

The Federal Government had on Thursday in Abuja revealed plans to hold the national population census in April 2023. This is the first time such exercise will be holding in 17 years.

Newsmen report that the government had planned to conduct the exercise in 2021 but it was later put off largely due to insecurity in parts of the country. The last time Nigeria conducted the exercise was in 2006. That exercise put the country’s population at 140.43 million – 71.3 million males and 69.0 million females.

But, briefing State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the Council of State presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, the Director-General of Nigeria Population Commission, Nasir Isa-Kwarra, disclosed the plan to conduct census in 2023.

While noting that the NPC would hold a pilot census in June (this year) after the political primaries, Isa-Kwarra said the commission would deploy high-grade technology during the exercise.

However, in a statement on Sunday titled, ‘Census, which census?’ and signed by its President and Chairman of Council, Dr. Amos Akingba and Chief Tola Adeniyi respectively, the Yoruba group argued that considering its timing, the proposed census remained a misplaced priority.

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The group described the proposed headcount as “invidious and obviously self-serving political miscalculation and mis-adventure”.

The statement read, “It is inconceivable that any serious-minded government should ever consider human population enumeration amidst an atmosphere of unprecedented insecurity, mistrust, unbridled corruption, and pervasive economic woes. It would be like a similar exercise conducted in 1974 which the subsequent Murtala Muhammed Military junta immediately jettisoned on assumption of office in 1975.

“What on earth could be the rationale for seeking to do a national headcount at this point in time, especially amidst rumours and permutations that the Unitary government in Abuja may have other tricks up its sleeves regarding holding national elections slated for March next year?

“Human population census requires meticulous planning, including but not limited to cartographic capturing, enumeration of houses and other dwelling places, comprehensive physical counting of human heads all over the country and, of course, a huge man-power outlay.

“In a situation where guardians and parents have stopped allowing their children and wards to proceed to mandatory Youths Service Corps outside their immediate environment, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homesteads because of pampered marauding human butchers, euphemistically tagged bandits, where will the government import enumerators from?

“We should admit the obvious fact that Nigeria is at war with itself. Census exercises are never conducted in a war situation.

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“More than 4 million Nigerians are scattered in Internally Displaced Persons camps all over the country most especially in the far Northern states of the country and Niger state. Who is going to count people who have been sentenced to humongous suffering by their own people in a country where suspicious terrorism holds sway?

“There can only be one reason for this unreasonable scheming: come up with terribly skewed census figures and plunge the uneasy country to further confusion, infighting, insurrection and catastrophic implosion and ultimately full-blown Civil War.

“We call on well-meaning Nigerians most especially respectable elders who knew Nigeria when it enjoyed a good measure of civilization and civility, to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to halt this unwarranted assault.

“We equally urge the National Assembly to deploy whatever balls they have to stop this open invitation to anarchy.

“Student Organizations, Nigeria Bar Association, the entire Media Outlets, Labour and Trade Organizations and all the Civil Society Platforms must rise up in unison to out-rightly condemn and reject this odious and obnoxious fraudulent scheming.

“Finally, we warn those who are the puppeteers, the faceless advisers and mis-advisers to keep off, and stop leading the government to a certain ruinous end.”

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