Member Representing Ajaokuta Federal Constituency, Honourable Idirissu Lawal has called on the Federal Government to take an urgent step towards the conduct of a verifiable population census in Nigeria, latest by next year.
Hon. Lawal who is the House Chairman, National Population Commission, NPC, said it is foolhardy for the country to continue to guess its population; a development that has hampered proper planing and put a negative toga on the country.
Lawal who spoke on the sideline of a bill to amend the National Population Commission which has passed second reading being sponsored by him said he believes that President Muhammadu Buhari will be interested in conducting a census.
He said the best way to set Nigeria back on the path of recovery; especially one dealt a bad blow by the coronavirus pandemic, is to secured authentic and verifiable records of its population through a validly conducted population census.
To this end, the Federal Lawmaker urged the Federal Government to immediately commenced preparation for the conduct of a comprehensive national census before the end of 2021, saying the exercise was long overdue.
According to him “It is extremely important to conduct a new national census, the last one conducted was in 2006. 14 years is too long a time for such exercise. And it does not augur well for us as a country to rely solely on projections by foreign bodies on her population figures for planning.
“Population census is an important national assignment because its figures are critical for national planning. The lack of accurate data on the population of Nigeria has been affecting national planning and development at all levels.
“The Federal Government should come up with a comprehensive timetable for the conduct of the census.
“Most countries around the world who know the importance of census carried out their census every ten – ten years. Without a census, and an accurate data of the number of people in a given country, no government can provide adequately for its citizens”.
Lawal said the census to be conducted must be the one that the outcome will be generally acceptable, stressing that it must also be at regular intervals, “If adequate measures are not put in place to ensure that population census is conducted periodically, at least once every 10 years, Nigeria will be lacking in the statistical data of its citizens either politically or economically.”
The bill for an Act to Amend the National Population Commission Act. CAP N67 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, tagged HB661 which passed its second reading on the floor of the House on Tuesday seeks to specify the time for National Population Census.
The Bill also seeks among other things to: Provide a definite time for national population census; impose an obligation on the President to issue a presidential proclamation for the conduct of national population census as a demonstration of political will; provide for the appointment of seasoned and certified statisticians to lead the Commission; Review the fines imposed under the Act to reflect current realities, and generally enrich the principal Act whose fundamental objective is to provide large scale data for policymaking and development planning.
Hon. Ganiyi Johnson who supported the bill said it is apt and timely considering the current situation Nigeria is facing today that required proper planning.