…invite NPC chairman for questioning
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Following the ravaging insecurity in the country, the House of Representatives yesterday called on the federal government to suspend the upcoming census exercise until security improved.
The House also said it will be counter-productive and a waste of scarce financial resources to conduct such exercise amidst the economic recession.
The call was made on the heel of a motion under matters of urgent public importance titled “Call on the federal government of Nigeria to Suspend the Proposed 2021 Population and Housing Census to be conducted by the National Population Commission” sponsored by Shelia Barwa Bell.
Moving the motion, Bell said that the state of insecurity would not guarantee accuracy if the census was conducted now, arguing that many Nigerians have fled their homes and villages.
He said: “The federal government of Nigeria through the National Population Commission has commenced preparations for 2021 population and housing census across the country.
“The State of insecurity in Nigeria has displaced numerous citizens who are duellers of the various communities to be captured in the exercise.
“Some displaced persons have crossed over to neighbouring countries for refuge and cannot be captured if the census is to be conducted.
“The overwhelming security challenges at hand, expecting accuracy in any census conducted now would be like passing an elephant through the eyes of a needle.
“In the circumstances, a large chunk of Nigerians have fled their homes, while many others are being held under captive by kidnappers. As such, conducting such a census without them means infringing on their constitutional right.
“Posting enumerators or Adhoc staff to volatile areas of the nation in the name of conducting a census is irrational, as it would be like giving them out to criminals.
“Conducting population and housing census in the current economic recession will only waste the hard-earned resources of this country as the outcome will be inconsequential.”
The lawmaker added that past exercises carried out in good times ended in controversy and as such, conducting any census in a time of insecurity may be worse.
He said it was time to change the narrative from cooking up data as results of the census.
“Past census concluded had yielded controversial statistics for the nation as a result of partial coverage of the actual population of the country which we must not be allowed to perpetuate.
“The precarious situation that has befallen our nation apparently informs the need to set priorities in governance. Thus, our priority should be titled towards a lasting solution to the killings, kidnapping and other criminal activities tormenting the nation.
“This Honourable House had in the same vein called on the president to declare a state of emergency on security to avert a possible impending calamity.
“It is high time we changed the narrative of data cooking of our national population as it threatens the accuracy of our national budgets.
“Nigeria presidential election is envisaged to commence and end within the first quota of the year 2023. As such, the whole of the preceding year (2022) would mostly be about campaigns, which has no room for census activities.
“The overlapping effect of active political activities and the National headcount shall be prone to political manipulation by over-ambitious politicians”, he said.
Adopting the motion, the House invited the chairman of the National Population Commission to give clarification as to the feasibility of concluding the census in the face of insecurity.
It also mandated its relevant committee to inquire into the work plans of the National Population Commission with regards to the census exercise.