2023 census: A master stroke for Buhari administration

National Population Commission NPC Chairman, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra

The decisive victory of the Roman troupes over the Gauls at the battle of Alesia in 15CE remains one of the greatest achievements of Julius Caesar as the commander and Governor of Rome.

Despite his numerous achievements and military exploits, failure to defeat the rebellious Gauls who had rebelled against Caesar’s rule and fortified themselves within the city would have marked the end of Caesar’s reign and a blow to his empire and riches.

He would have ended miserably as a villain without any dignity and power. Indeed every leader has that one thing they are remembered for, a legacy that outlives their reign and lifetimes.

The forthcoming National Population and Housing Census in Nigeria under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari remains one of those masterstroke achievements that can always be remembered and associated with the present administration.

The commitment of the National Population Commission (NPC) to the conduct of the forthcoming Census is topnotch and highly commendable. The wide national consultations involving all stakeholders across the country shows that federal government and particularly the team at NPC meant business.

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, there was a trial Census to test the software and hardware adopted for the Census exercise. Already, the observations and challenges encountered in the field have been factored into the current preparations to deliver a seamless headcount as it has never been done anywhere around the world even here in the United kingdom. As a Nigerian from the diaspora, this is a moment of great expectation and fulfilment for me.

The NPC Chairman and his team have shown that they are desirous in making a difference and delivering a Census is distinct and different from the 2006 Census that was inconclusive and therefore of little or no use to Nigeria’s development. Nigerians were amazed to note that as far back as 2021, the NPC, relying on satellite imagery and employing the best of Geographic Information Technology and expertise demarcated the country into detailed and precise Enumeration Areas (EAs). For us in the diaspora, this has put paid to the nation that African countries are backwards and that the use of technology is still at the rudimentary stage. Again with the deployment of Portable Digital Assistants (PDAs) as well as the CSEntry computer programme, the National Population Commission is poised to give Nigerians a wholly digital experience in the conduct of this years Census. It is therefore our duty both at home and in the diaspora to support the efforts of the Federal Government through the NPC in ensuring that everyone is counted. As advocates, it is also our duty to dispel all forms of falsehood and mischief especially by those who doubt the process for whatever reason.

A project of this magnitude cannot just happen. The National Population Commission has done very extensive research that has culminated in the production of quality training manuals, brochures and other consumables.

This is in a bid to improve the quality and credibility of the forthcoming Census under the leadership of Alhaji Nasir Isa Kwarra. With the level of preparation and research as well as fact finding missions and trips abroad, Nigerians are happy and expectant that this year’s Census exercise will be the best and most credible in recent times.

As members of the diaspora community, we are fully in support of the forthcoming Census exercise. This is an opportunity to show the world that we are capable of taking our destiny into our hands and pioneering a digital Census as been done every where developed climes. For the first time, the Nigerians in the US and UK and elsewhere will have bragging rights about the giant strides made by our dear country through an exceptionally credible census exercise.

Without a credible Census data, there cannot be any form of meaningful development anywhere around the world. In Nigeria where data on vital events like births, death’s and marriage are hardly prioritised, this is the right opportunity to get accurate and reliable data about our population parameters that will serve as yardsticks for development planning. The era of planning based on estimated figures is over and Nigeria cannot afford to be lagging behind if she truly wants to be reckoned with the developed economies of the world.

As a member of the international community and a signatory to many conventions and treaties, the international community is very hopeful that the National Population and Housing Census exercise will be credible.

This will give clear direction to investment decisions and interventions in Nigeria. While we acknowledge the efforts of UNFPA, USAID, UKAID, EU and many other agencies who are working tirelessly to provide Nigeria with both financial and technical know-how that is needed to make this exercise a success, we urge them to do more because the end will certainly justify the means.

Any form of assistance rendered in the execution of this all important assignment will never be in vain. Indeed, it’ll be a win-win situation for all Nigerians at home and in the diaspora as well as other stakeholders. We no longer want to just be known for making remittances but we want to be directly involved in areas of comparative advantage and interest.

Mr. President has shown that the Census exercise is truly at the heart of his administration and like Caesar, this will go down in history as one of his best achievements and milestones. The timely approval and release of budgeted funds as well as the support accorded the leadership of the National Population Commission is worth commending.

The Commission has equally excelled in the judicious use of scarce resources allocated so far.
To say we are proud to be Nigerians despite the challenges faced by Nigeria and Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora on a daily basis is an understatement.

As the date for the Census draws near, the onus lies on us members of the Nigeria diaspora to support by more advocacy to ensure an effective and credible census exercise. It will not also be out of place for us to massively come home and avail ourselves for counting. This will go a long way in encouraging Nigerians at home who may have lost hope in the Nigerian project or who are simply lukewarm over matters of national interest. Should the Federal Government or the National Population Commission need our assistance, we won’t hesitate to mobilize ourselves and render whatever help that’s required to make this exercise a success. We are Nigerians and our patriotic zeal is without doubt unshakeable.

Long live Nigeria!!!

Patrick Onjeh is a social worker Lives in Oxford United kingdom.

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