The Insincerity Of Northern Leaders Of Thought On 2022 Census

Over 16 years after the last nation headcount, majority of Nigerians believe that the successful conduct of 2022 population and housing census promises to be one of the most enduring legacies that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would bequeath to our beloved country.

However, political pundits under the guise in theof Northern Leaders of Thought (NLT) appears posed to distort this legacy project of the Federal Government and the nation’s quest for another credible and acceptable 2022 Census as they rose from a meeting in Kaduna on Saturday January 15, 2022, where they called for a suspension of the planned census, siting citing insecurity and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North, in spite of the commitment and painstaking preparations done by the National Population Commission.

In a communique issued by the Northern Leaders of Thought and read by one Prof. Doknan Decent Danjuma Shenni said in part that “the meeting notes the desperate condition of economic existence of most Northerners poses additional threats to security and the democratic process. It recommends that leaders should avoid pushing the population into deeper poverty and desperation with challenging economic policies and lack of empathy”.

“The Meeting advises the federal Government to postpone the planned 2022 National Census in view of the large numbers of displaced Nigerians and the proximity of the census to the 2023 elections”, he said.

In an attempt to decipher the motif motive of this ill-fated communique; and considering the fact that these self acclaimed Northern elders critical recommendations that “leaders should avoid pushing the population into deeper poverty and desperation with challenging economic policies and lack of empathy” and that the Federal Government should “postpone the planned 2022 National Census in view of the large number of displaced Nigerians and proximity of the census to the 2023 elections”, many questions come to mind and beg for answers from Nigerian: (1) How does a census that will be conducted in May 2022 affect elections are being planned to hold in February 2023? (2) Why is it possible for INEC to distributed PVCs to the large number of IDPs successfully conduct elections that always come with violent fights and even in terrorists infested areas in the North East and West, in contrast to the conduct of census in which people don’t fight or carry out acts of violence? (3) Are the protestant Northern Leaders of Thought (NLT) not aware it is on record that the National Population Commission has demarcated the entire country into digital Enumeration Areas; and successfully conducted two census Pretests enumeration in all parts of the country, including Bornu, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Zamfara, Taraba etc, without any hinderance? (4) Are the proponents of NLT aware that the cost of funding the February 2023 elections is far more huge than what is needed to conduct this year’s census? (5) Is their unholy call for the postponement of this census politically motivated to serve their personal interest or beneficial to all concerned?

A random sampling of opinions and thoughts from renowned Nigerians indicate that the Northern elder’s call for suspension of this year’s much awaited census, to say the list, is unpatriotic, deceitful, perfidious and inimical to the economic prosperity Northern States whose interest they are deviously seeking to represent.

Based on the successes recorded by the Commission so far, do the likes of Prof. Doknan Decent Danjuma Shenni and his group need further education to know that population data provides the lifewire for planning, growth and development of the entire nation for them to stand up to be counted in the 2022 population and housing census as a panacea for the reduction of poverty and effective management and implementation of our economic policies and overcome the challenges that they alluded so passionately in their ill-fated communique under reference? Also, for the umpteenth time, the Commission has told Nigerians the hard fact that the this year’s population and housing census is technology driven to accommodate areas ravaged by insecurity. Technology has given the Commission the benefit of handling such areas. And that no one part of the country, whether affected by insecurity or IDPs will be left out.

Census is one of the most important activities in human history, to know our figures correctly and use them for planning, for development purposes is determined. Therefore, Nigerians and indeed, this writer expect NLT to commend Mr President for giving approval for the conduct of the 2022 census. The Federal Government has also approved N177 billion Budget, just as the Commission set May 22, 2022 as date for conduct of the first digital Population and Housing Census in Nigeria.

The Executive Chairman of the National Population Commission Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra who confirmed the date during the second phase of Training of Trainers workshop for the 2nd Pretest says the May 2022 date is sacrosanct.

“The last time Nigeria conduct the National Population and Housing Census was in 2006. We’re all set on that date. We have set our minds on conducting the census on that date and we’re working round the clock to make sure the date remains sacrosanct”, he said.

The Commission’s commitment to ensure that all Nigerians are counted wherever they may be cannot be overemphasized. And as Dr. Isiaka Alada Yahaya succintly put it in an article on a related matter, “Nigeria cannot run away from counting Nigerians. Census is an essential governance activity and no nation can afford to delete this important exercise from its development process because of the immense potential to facilitate the solution of present security situation and improve the living standard of our people”.

Let’s get our people involved in the 2022 Census.

*Machiavelli Igbonkumo is a Public Affairs Commentator based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

By Machiavelli Igbonkumo

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