By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – Nigeria required N222 billion to conduct accurate, reliable and accepted national population and housing census proposed for 2018, the Chairman of the National Population Commission, NPC, Chief Eze Duruiheoma has said.
Chief Duruiheoma, who disclosed this during a session with the members of the Senate Committee on National Identity Cards and National Population Commission, led by its Chairman, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North) on an oversight visit, said technologies to be deployed into the conduct of the next census exercise are more sophisticated than that of 2006.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee has urged the National Population Commission to commercialised issuance of birth and birth certificates as well as vita data to private and public sectors with a view to generating revenues.
Chief Duruiheoma explained that the N222 billion budget proposal by the Commission was to cover pre-census, the census, and the post census expenditures.
According to him, for the census which we proposed, I want to give you some background information, in preparing for this census, since 2015, we have regularly hinted that given the resources we will be prepared to do a census in 2016.
And we stated how the resources would be made available top us. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When that didn’t happen, of course we submitted a budget at that time.
He said when another proposal to conduct the exercise in 2017 couldn’t happen again, we came up with a proposal to hold the census in 2018.
According to him, “The Commission will therefore require the support and guidance of the Senate Committee on Population in order to achieve its mandate of managing Nigeria’s population for sustainable development.
“Adequate and timely release of fund is one critical issue that defines the success or otherwise of a census program. We expect the senate committee to ensure that the funding challenge of the 2018 census is overcome.
“For a nationwide project like the census, there will be the need to put in place appropriate legal regime for its effective execution. The commission looks forward to the senate committee to ensure that required legislations on the next census are passed.
“Specifically, the commission will require the support of the senate committee in ensuring that periodic conduct of the population censuses in Nigeria is included in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The task of mobilising the stakeholders and the general public against the background of public apathy and stereotypes can indeed be a daunting task. There will be the need to involve role models and goodwill ambassadors in the census campaign.
“The commission will count on the distinguished senators as opinion leaders to deploy their immense goodwill in enrolling the support of key government functionaries, traditional institution, civil society groups, religious bodies and indeed the generality of Nigerians for the census.”
The NPC Chairman also informed the Committee of the intention of the commission to convene a national summit on the next census in the first quarter of 2017, explained, “The objective of the summit is to deepen national understanding and imperatives for the conduct of the next census and solicit the cooperation and support of stakeholders it its successful conduct.”
In its remarks, the Senate Committee members advised that, given the precarious economic situation in the country, the management of the population commission should approach the international donor agencies to seek more fund to execute the 2018 census exercise.