Critics Of The Funding And Conduct Of The National Census Exercises Of 2022 In Nigeria Have Got It All Wrong

While commending the architects of census taking in Nigeria in 2022, I wish to seize this opportunity to use this medium to express my disenchantments and observations on how the critics of the funding and conduct of the National Census have got it all wrong. One group of critics has opined that the census taking exercise of 2022 be suspended to pave the way for the conduct of the general elections in 2023 due to the prevailing insecurity situation in the country today. These assertions and postulations show that the entire concept of census taking is misunderstood and misinterpreted as a regular office routine exercise and not a special project that deserves a special funding and support.
I wish to state categorically that infrastructural development is all about people, and consequently, it is specific to the human population. Therefore, it is worthy of note here that the development of infrastructure and the human population are inextricably tied together and cannot be treated separately as the critics assumed. Development economists, Development Geographers, Development Economists, Sociologists, and Political Economists advocate that infrastructural development are the usual concomitants of human population derivatives. Therefore, no sensible Government will sink its resources in providing infrastructures without considering the threshold or optimum population to utilize it optimally. Therefore, the giant stride of President Buhari’s administration in this regard is very appreciable and commendable. Consequently, the funding and conduct of the National Census in 2022 is desirable to determine accurately the desired threshold or optimum population that will benefit from the infrastructural projects that the critics of census taking want to advance in their spurious and lame arguments against the funding of the National Census by ignoring the essential aspects of the human population that will be required and which the National Population Commission is striving very hard to achieve for Nigeria in 2022.
The glaring consequences of avoiding the National census-taking will be very suicidal and disastrous for Nigeria because census-taking has huge multiplier effects in the accurate determination of the important demographic variables that are major requisites for every aspect of planning and development in the country. These variables include, among others, fertility, growth rates, mortality, morbidity, migration, social facility indices, and so on. These variables influence the human population’s organization and proper arrangement in every geographic space like Nigeria. This is why experts in Geography, Sociology, Demography, Economics, Politics, Rural and Urban Development argues that:
Therefore, building infrastructures without an organized population (derived from current and accurate census taking) will be an exercise in futility because the infrastructures will suffer a lot of vandalization and regular pilfering from a population that is not organized and accounted. The critics of Census taking and protagonists of infrastructural development failed to visibly notice that with the provision of massive infrastructures in the major cities of Nigeria still poverty and deprivation persist glaringly in them. Consequently, many city dwellers are now sleeping under bridges and in makeshift houses and tents because there is no accurate data on the population of homeless or stateless people due to poor organization of the people of the country to which many experts in population studies are frowning at it today. The only solution to these urban slums is the funding and conducting population and housing census for Nigeria.
Another lame, spineless and anaemic argument against the conduct of the National Census headcount in Nigeria is hammering on insecurity, and possible overlapping and overloading of the country with National headcount in 2022 and the General Elections in 2023 are just the myopic postulations of enemies of Nigeria’s development and progress without taking into account that the two specific exercises are incongruent and never visibly treated the same in terms of their activities and functions.
Going by the unpalatable reasoning of the critics of Census taking in Nigeria, I am obliged to ask the following itching questions that will help us to understand where the critics of census taking have got it all wrong:
1) When Nigeria’s entire geographical space was successfully covered by the National Population Commission Enumeration Areas Demarcators, was there no insecurity in areas covered in Nigeria?
2) Is census-taking interrelated and interwoven with General Elections, whose timings and functions are entirely different, e.g., 2022 and 2023, respectively?
3) what prompted the critics’ feelings that census-taking is not possible while elections are possible? Do they glaringly differ in their degrees of accuracy and acceptability where the use of humans is unavoidable?
4) When do we expect insecurity to stop or be halted in Nigeria to pave smooth ways for Census taking in Nigeria while allowing elections to be conducted in 2023 (one year) after Census taking in 2022?
5) Are the views of the critics of Census taking in 2022 a true reflection of the views of the actual representatives of Nigerians in the National Assembly?
6) Are these critics unaware or oblivious about the various public hearing and sitting of the National Assembly on the funding of Census taking in Nigeria yet decided to remain mute and nervous to voice out against it until now when arrangements have been concluded and approval granted by the true representatives of Nigerians at the National Assembly?
Given these, I wish to urge the critics and antagonists of Census taking in 2022 to intelligently argue that with the prevailing insecurity situation of Nigeria, the National Population Commission deserves more funding again to expend them on life insurances, hiring of a vast number of security personnel, vigilantes and escorts that will provide enough cover and protection of the census functionaries to accomplish their assignments than contemplating on intractable insecurity and the physically fat BUT practically lean funding of the census exercise given the myriads of problems I have enumerated in this treatise.
The other critics and antagonists of Census taking based on insecurity should endeavor to request the Governors of the northern States, particularly the northwest, the northeast, and pockets of areas in the north-central, to hurry and emulate by copying the strategies adopted by the Governors of the largely heterogeneous and cosmopolitan Kogi, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Jigawa, Nasarawa, and Kwara on how they have succeeded in sustaining relative peace and tranquility in their respective States than advocating for the suspension of Census taking exercise while projecting for the conduct of elections as if human population and protection of lives and property are not necessary during elections.
Insecurity should not be left in the hands of the Federal Government alone, as exemplified by the courageous and charismatic Governors of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Kaduna and Plateau States. They are primarily heterogeneous in nature than homogeneous northwestern states with the same cultural identity and religion. Traditional rulers must be adequately engaged and supported by the northern elders’ forum to emulate the courage of the Emir of Muri Alh. Abbas Njidda Tafida (OFR) in Jalingo, Taraba State, where he came out courageously and vociferously stemmed down the intensity of insecurity in his domain that is now covering eight Local Government Areas (60%+) of the State landmass thereby complementing the efforts of the Federal and Taraba State Government effectively than concentrating on myopic arguments and non-issues.
I wish to personally state here as a professional and having been recognized by the United States Census Burea u in the planning and management of Census, and having participated in the 1991 and 2006 censuses in Nigeria. I assure everybody that all will be captured during the 2022 census-taking without omission, even if they are migrants in other places because the National Population Commission is aware of migration due to insecurity and other hazards. The DEFACTO method of census-taking will be applied during the exercise wherever they are found on the census day to eliminate the fear that many people will not be counted due to insecurity and migration, which the Commission will never ignore or play it away. The principle of census taking is that no area or people should be omitted or ignored because Census is about human population.
The critics view the massive funding of the Commission as humongous is just a mere insinuation if we take a look at the tasks and requirements of Census taking in Nigeria. The financing by arithmetic calculation is physically fat, but the implementation will be practically lean. The requirements inter-alia include the following: Enumeration Area Demarcation, equipment, personnel, materials; procurement of vehicles and other means of transportation for the 774 L.G.A.s, States, and National office of the Commission; hiring of helicopters for hard-to-reach areas; training and distribution of census functionaries; procurement of I.C.T. equipment and energy saving devices; postal and communication gadgets; procurement of security devices against terrorism and other heinous crimes; life insurances; public affairs and media coverages; sky and ground security coverages, and so on.
Census taking is a program generally associated with the movement of census functionaries from one household to another, from one locality or enumeration area to another, to ensure no omission. This movement of census functionaries is more tedious and tasking, while during elections, their functionaries are stationed in designated locations called polling units waiting for voters. The voters may not be fully seen at the units. Hence the near-absence of many voters will not invalidate the outcome of the results of the unit, while it is not the same in census-taking because everybody must be captured without omission. Therefore, given these enormous tasks, risks, and hazards associated with census-taking, the critics of the funding of the National Census must appreciate that the physically fat allocation BUT practically lean funding need to be augmented too, to ensure a hitch-free census exercise in the country. A lot need to be done by wealthy and spirited individuals, philanthropic organizations, entrepreneurs, companies, donor agencies, financial institutions, and where it is deemed necessary, the States and Local Governments to complement the efforts of the Federal Government.
Frankly speaking, the Commission need to go cap in hand again with another supplementary budget proposal to the Federal Government for additional funding to overcome any unforeseen depreciation in the value of the Naira cum inflation if the current value of the Naira is not urgently sustained by the Monetary Policy Organ of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Census taking critics should understand that without current and accurate census figures, the country will be operating its economy by predictions, guesswork, and faulty assumptions, otherwise putting the country’s economic activities into jeopardy and uncertainties, for which the President and the National Assembly are averse to it with the recent approval of funding for Census taking in Nigeria.
In conclusion, the critics are now aware that with this treatise submission, no Nation can develop or successfully implement its development policies without using current and accurate data. Any failure to critically look at what I have enumerated will cause the UNITED NATIONS to frown at Nigeria because of its inability to make census-taking a top priority in its agenda of planning and development after the marked period of 2016 for another census taking. This is why Census taking in 2022, though belated, is timely and necessary to measure with the acceptable standards of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in human and infrastructural development. Therefore, we must agree that census-taking is invaluable in 2022, and there is no overlap or correlation between Census and election. Furthermore, infrastructures and the human population are inextricably tied together and must continue to remain so without separation as the critics want everybody to believe in their misleading ignorance about Census taking in Nigeria. This is how serious Nations achieve prosperity and growth through periodic census-taking and not by the expression of sadism and mischief-making from our critics and antagonists of Census taking in 2022.
Hussaini Umar Mafindi
Retired State Director and Cartographer,
National Population Commission,
Taraba State, Jalingo, Nigeria.



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