By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, painted a gloomy picture of the proposed 2018 population census, saying the exercise might be marred by political interests, in view of 2019 general elections.
Consequently, he advised that the population census be postponed to avoid coming out with figures that would not reflect the actual population of the country.
Dogara also advised people clamouring for the conduct of the census in 2018 to exercise patience till after 2019 elections when there would be no political pressure to manipulate its outcome.
The speaker in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, yesterday, in Abuja, was of the view that conducting population census in an election year might generate unrealistic results, advising that it should be the next administration that should take care of the census at the beginning of its tenure when not much would be at stake.
He said: ‘’I won’t advise anyone to conduct national census in 2018. I said it before that if we are not going to achieve it in 2017, then we should just forget it until after 2019.
“If you conduct census at the time of elections, there will be so much pressure, crisis and the lure for people to manipulate the figures for political reasons, such that the agency cannot even cope with.
“So it is better for a fresh administration to conduct this exercise from the beginning of that administration when we do not have any pressure of elections in sight.
‘’Then, we may have something that resembles reality, but I can bet you if the census is conducted in 2018, the outcome will be doubtful.”
“Seriously speaking, because I know who we are and I know the kind of litigation, backlashes, the pressure and we don’t need that now, to be candid.
‘’We have so many challenges, let’s empower the agencies to keep building on the blocks that they will leverage on in the future in order to do the exercise but doing it in 2018, honestly it is nothing I would advocate.”