The National Population Commission (NPC) monday in Abuja said Nigeria needs about N222 billion in order to conduct a thorough and efficient national census in 2018, two years after the due date.
The national census exercise was due this year, 2016 but for reasons one of which dwell on paucity of funds, the exercise was postponed to 2017 and again shifted to 2018 for the same reasons.
The NPC Chairman, Chief Eze Duruiheoma, told the Senate Committee on Population and National Identity when the committee visited the commission monday on oversight tour of the agency that the NPC was ready for the exercise if given the necessary resources.
According to Duruiheoma, “The commission requires the sum of N222 billion that will cater for the preparation, conducting census and post-planning and analysis of the conducted census in 2018. That is the budget we are proposing to enable us executive the 2018 national census.”
While giving further details on the budget, he explained that the total amount released from the 2016 appropriation budget of N4.4billion did not justify the proposal for the next census to hold in 2017, hence, the proposal for 2018.
He added that about N94 billion was required for pre-census stage, N120 billion for the census and over N8 billion for the post census stage.
Duruiheoma said: “It will not be probably news to inform the distinguished Chairman and members of the Senate Committee that paucity of fund is a major challenge of the commission.
“This address will not be complete until I have drawn your attention to the intricate manner the chronic and persistent underfunding of the Commission has hindered the attainment of its noble objectives.
“Funding of census activities has become a periodic affair which virtually ceases after the conduct of the exercise. This has led to decay of structures and thefacilities for census taking and Commission has to start afresh whenever there is a census to be conducted.
“Much more importantly, it has prevented the commission from deriving maximum benefits from census taking. The actual enumeration of the census is the planting season while the harvest is the post census period when the results are properly analysed and widely disseminate for planning purposes,” Duruiheoma observed.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on National Population and Identity, Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, who led members of the committee to the NPC headquarters, said the 2018 national census is critical, given that data generated from the exercise would be needed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prepare for the 2019 elections
The Senate Committee Chairman stated that “it is a shared opinion that 2018 is a critical year to hold that exercise because a year after that which is 2019 is an election year.
“I think for so many reasons, the two should not be contemplated to happen the same year. Infact, the data, information that INEC would require to plot its graph accurately in the exercise will certainly arise out of the exercise of the 2018 census.”
He informed the gathering that a motion had already been moved by the committee, urging President, Muhammadu Buhari to make a proclamation to that effect.
Hunkuyi said: “To contemplate that this regime should have a wherewithal of holding a successful census in 2018 is we at this end, this committee and the Senate and the national assembly as a whole has already prepared its mind that is why early last week, we moved a motion calling on Mr. President to make a proclamation.
“Since the instrument has not been part of legislation, embedded in our constitution as to say after 10 years, there will be a census, we require a proclamation by Mr. President and the senate, I can assure you that the Senate committee on population is articulated, resolved, prepared to apply itself on the possibility of this government to hold census by that 2018 as projected.
“We would do all we could, after calling on Mr President, we are creating an interface with the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government which is the supervising front to this commission in government to draw the attention of government that if census is to hold 2018, there are unavoidable prerequisite arrangements that must be followed.”
Hunkuyi further explained that “once adequate provision is made by the government, within the budget 2017, the window becomes validly open to now approach other agencies within and outside the country to be part of the process, it is a serial arrangement, if we miss part of it, it is likely to mar the possibility of that activity holding in 2018.”
The committee also charged the NPC to commence the process whereby its data, information and other exercises are commercialised in order to ensure efficiency and optimal results.