By Chris Ochayi
Calls for urgent conduct of census
ABUJA— National Population Commission, NPC, yesterday, announced that the country’s population has hit an estimated 198 million people.
Acting National Chairman of the commission, Yusuf Anka, who disclosed this in Abuja at a media briefing on the 2019 World Population Day, said the commission arrived at the figure through application of appropriate census tools.
Anka, who spoke on Population Day, with the theme, “25 Years of ICPD: Accelerating the Promise,” however, called on stakeholders and the media to urgently set agenda for conduct of population census in the country.
He said: “Fundamentally, it is even more imperative now that Nigeria should undertake the next census in the light of the recommendations of the United Nations, UN, that census should be undertaken every 10 years.
“The current population of Nigeria is about 198 million people. Recall that about three months ago, UNFPA brought out a figure of 201 million. And we were also asked to comment on that.
“Our comment was for us, the difference between the UNFPA figure and our own figure is a function of assumption they have made and the assumption that we have also made. And as you know, in the absence of an accurate census, you have to use a model or a projection to arrive at the figure that you are projecting.
“Now, having said that, and again, if you agree with me, there is no fundamental difference per se between 201 million and 198 million. Granted, three million can be a size of a small country, say Djibouti or maybe Southern Sudan, you can have exact figure, agree.
“But that not withstanding, we are talking of very huge figure; the margin of error is very small. So, we can assume that we are all saying the same thing.
“Fundamentally, that is even more imperative now that Nigeria should undertake the next census in the light of the recommendations of the United Nations, UN, that census should be undertaken every 10 years.”
On the theme of 2019 Population Day, he said: “You may recall that ICPD was International Conference on Population and Development, which was held in Cairo, Egypt on 5-13 September 1994 under the auspices of the United Nations.
“As we join the rest of the world to commemorate the event, the major task facing our country is how far we have been able to implement these key activities as enunciated in the Cairo Plan.
“Globally, a lot of remarkable gains have been made since Cairo 94 and Nigeria is not an exception. In 1994, only about 15 per cent of married women in the least developed countries used modem contraceptives. Today, 37 per cent do. In Nigeria, 4 per cent used in 1990 but today 12 per cent do.
“Similarly, 25 year ago, 1000 women died during pregnancy but today, the rate has been cut by half.
“In Nigeria, Maternal Mortality Rate has dropped from 1,500 per 100,000 in 1999. Despite this success, Nigeria is still lagging behind in meeting the Cairo commitment. More troubling is the new angle of the alarming rate of sexual violence, especially with increase in humanitarian settings such as IDP camps.”
“Therefore, while we may be celebrating what has so much changed in Nigeria since [CPD, so much is still yearning to be accomplished: Maternal Mortality Rate is still high, modem contraceptive prevalent rate is still low, unmet needs for family planning remains high and Female Genital Mutilation has not significantly improved.’’