This year’s National Population and Housing Census is to begin on May 3, the Federal Government has confirmed.
A member of the Publicity and Advocacy Committee on 2023 National Population and Housing Census, Dr. Garba Abari, confirmed this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum yesterday in Abuja.
He said the three-day exercise would start on May 3 and end on May 5 across the country.
Abari, who is the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), explained that the census would capture every person, household and structure for national planning and project execution purposes.
The agency boss said the change in the date was due to the postponement of this year’s governorship and Houses of Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“That change by INEC made it mandatory for us to also adjust the date for the conduct of the exercise,” he said.
Abari described the census and the elections as major national events with significant importance which had earlier been planned to hold not too far away from each other.
“The census had to be put forward from the initial date of March 29 to April 2, now to May 3 to 5.
“There are two things that informed the shift in date. First, in the course of our planning by the National Population Commission, it was so factored that INEC would also tinker with its own electoral timetable.
“The governorship election, as you are aware, had to be shifted by one week. This had a telling effect on the date of commencement of the census.
“Just like election, the census is also a very long process: from the training, the sub-trainings, retraining leading up till the very day of the actual house listing and numbering.
“These will then be followed by the actual capture of the population,” he said.
On the level of preparedness, the NOA boss assured Nigerians that the NPC was ready to embark on the exercise.
Abari described the exercise as a significant event that would aid national planning and execution of developmental projects.
He said: “Most of the information that has gone out to the public about the census, like the awareness creation, sensitisation, enlightenment, advocacy around the census, has all been taking place.
“Perhaps, not on a scale that will make us feel comfortable to say every Nigerian is now census conscious, census aware, despite the very significant role that it has to play in our national life.
“But, clearly, the census is absolutely important because it is for development, planning, security, infrastructure development, educational, health and other demographic considerations all encapsulating in one.”
Also, the Federal Government has assured Nigerians of a credible exercise that will be transparent and acceptable.
Abari made the pledge when he appeared on the NAN Forum yesterday in Abuja.
The NOA boss, who is also a member of the National Publicity and Advocacy Committee on Census, stressed the need for the involvement of every Nigerian in the exercise.
“The most important thing is to make Nigerians aware that census is about them because they matter. So, let them be counted because they count.
“It is all about them, about planning for development, security, and others.
“When you are not actually able to get the correct information about all that we do or how many we are, how many are male, female; how many are old, young; how many are persons with disabilities; planning will be difficult.
“A reliable census provides an important ingredient that will help national planning. We need a holistic data base that is scientific to guide different levels of government in the provision of services, infrastructure and the way and manner they relate as government to the people,” he said.