By Ralph Madugu
The National Population Commission, NPC, has attributed the postponement of the 2023 National Population and Housing Census to “government’s transition programme and post-election mood in the country.”
It also ascribed the suspension of the exercise to what it described as “cloud of uncertainty that hung above the nation after election.”
Federal Commissioner representing Plateau State in the Commission, Mrs. Cecilia Dapoet, made the clarification at a stakeholders meeting held in Jos, Plateau State.
Recall that the 2023 national population and housing census was earlier scheduled for 3 to 7 May, 2023.
Mrs. Cecilia Dapoet said, “Firstly, this is to assure you of our commitment to conduct a reliable and credible Census.”
However, the rescheduling of the exercise gave room for insinuations in some quarters that the census was postponed due to lack of funds which the NPC had since debunked as “mere speculations being given much media attention.”
Mrs. Dapoet said: “We all saw the cloud of uncertainty that hung above the nation after the elections and were careful not to fall into some pitfalls and plunge the country into more trouble. We cannot take things for granted, and decided to postpone the exercise. I assure you it is done in the national interest.
“Moreover, to restate that we have already laid a solid foundation for the next Census. Remember, we have carried out the Enumeration Area Demarcation Exercise, the First and Second Census Pretests, the Trial Census and recruitment exercise as well as series of trainers’ trainings. We were on the verge of conducting the last training for enumerators and supervisors when the postponement took effect.
“The postponement will allow for adequate participation of this new administration. Presently we are getting our new leaders acquainted with the methodology and processes adopted for the current Census exercise.
“We are set to conduct the first digital census in Nigeria. Presently, we have purchased the handheld devices to be used to capture data and are safely stored at the Central Bank in Jos. This also means the software is ready in hand. I assure you that before the process was paused shortly to allow for a smooth transition of administration and the mood from the 2023 general elections to calm down, the Commission had already put all things in place ready for the Census exercise to take off.”
She added that the Commission used the opportunity offered by the postponement to re-assess its “Census Work-plan and to inject any input that would add value to the strategies for implementing the methodology for optimal success.”
Mrs. Daboet, who acknowledged that there was always room for improvement in the census process, reiterated that the Commission was committed to safeguarding all resources expended while awaiting the new date for the exercise.
On specific measures put in place by the Commission to curtail cases of political interference in the conduct of the exercise, Mrs. Dapoet stated that prior to the postponement, the Commission was set to conduct the first digital census in the country by purchasing handheld devices for use in data capturing and storage.
While reassuring Nigerians that the 2023 headcount would be different from previous ones, Mrs. Dapoet stated that the Commission would “safeguard all resources expended while we await the new date for the Census exercise.”
She lamented that previous exercises were marred by undercounting, multiple counting and inaccurate enumeration that led to lack of trust in the census data and difficult for use in planning and development purposes.
Earlier in her remarks at the meeting, Plateau State Director of NPC, Mrs. Felicia Mwolpun, disclosed that the meeting was held as part of efforts to provide stakeholders with adequate information on efforts being made as the Commission awaits the new date for the census exercise.
The meeting had in attendance members of the state security and logistic and members of the publicity committees drawn from various state and federal government agencies in the state.
It afforded journalists the opportunity to seek clarifications on issues bordering on Enumeration Area Demarcation Exercise, Census pretests, Trial Census and recruitment exercises as well as series of trainers’ trainings, among other activities of the Commission.