Uncertainty surrounds the census as May 3, 2023, approaches because new difficulties keep emerging.
Several parties are raising concerns about whether the federal government is prepared to conduct a successful census in the final months of President Muhammadu Buhari’s term.
The census, which will take place 17 years after the previous one was performed in the nation, was originally scheduled on March 29, but opposition to the timing quickly emerged since it coincided with Ramadan fasting.
And following the postponement of the gubernatorial election held on March 18, the government announced a shift of the census date to May 3 to insulate the exercise from the fallout of the elections.
The National Population Commission (NPC), however, once more announced the deferral of the training of the ad hoc workers who would conduct field work three weeks prior to the exercise’s new date.
The local government level training of supervisors and enumerators set for April 13, 2023 was postponed “due to some emerging issues,” according to a statement from the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Isiaka Yahaya. She added that a new date would be announced to the public in due time.
Although he did not give particular justifications for the change or the new date, there has been conjecture on the readiness of the nation to conduct the census despite the lengthy delay.
Similarly, some observers have raised eyebrows on the census because government is seeking N372billion to complete the exercise, after it had spent N291.5bn.
With the census conducted at the tail end of the Buhari administration, the acceptability of the result by the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was another issue raised, as they said he was not sufficiently consulted to accept something he disowned in the past as governor of Lagos State.
The chairman of the NPC, Nasir Isa Kwarra, had on different fora assured that the 2023 census was aimed at producing an inclusive and user-friendly data for developmental planning purposes.
With the federal government looking for donations to complete the shortfall of financing the census, the NPC assured that the challenge would not be a reason for the exercise not to take place.
The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, had in March said the census would gulp N869bn.
Yahaya said the federal government was playing its role to ensure that adequate financing is met.
“They are on it; and the money will come. The way the government operates is not that they will put it in your pocket, it is on a need basis, but we have been assured that finance will not be a problem,” he said.