The National Population Commission plans to meet with the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, even before his inauguration to discuss possible new dates for the population and housing census.
This follows the announcement on Saturday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved the indefinite postponement of the census earlier slated for May 3 to 7, 2023.
The minister said the incoming administration would now determine the new date.
Equaljhayloaded gathered from a top official of the NPC on Saturday that the commission’s top hierarchy would be meeting with Tinubu in the coming days to brief him on the postponement, gauge his reaction and possibly a feedback from him on when the census would now hold.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to one of our correspondents, said, “We don’t have anything else to say other than what the Minister of Information and Culture said in his statement. That is the position of the Federal Government.
“The only thing I can add to that is that the commission will engage the incoming President even before his inauguration on May 29. Just like we have been having engagements with the outgoing administration, we will meet with His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the new date for the census to gauge his feeling and know the direction in which he wants to go, but we are not in a position to suggest a date to him.”
The announcement of the postponement of the headcount followed a meeting with some Federal Executive Council members by the Chairman of the NPC, Nasir Kwarra, and his team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday.
Mohammed said, “In arriving at the decision to postpone the census, the meeting reiterated the critical need for the conduct of a population and housing census 17 years after the last census, to collect up-to-date data that will drive the developmental goals of the country and improve the living standard of the Nigerian people.”
The minister quoted the President as noting that with the completion of the Enumeration Area Demarcation of the country, the conduct of first and second pre-tests, the recruitment and training of ad hoc workers, procurement of Personal Digital Assistants and ICT infrastructures, appreciable progress had been made in the implementation of the 2023 Population and Housing Census.
He also commended the methodology being put in place by the commission to conduct an accurate and reliable census, especially the deployment of technology capable of delivering world-class census and laying a sustainable basis for future censuses.
Buhari directed the NPC to continue preparing for the census to sustain the gains already recorded and provide anoperational base for the incoming administration.
Friday’s meeting was attended by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Mohammed; Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
The census was initially scheduled for 2022 but was shifted to March this year, but because of the general election, it was postponed to May.
At a meeting with members of the diplomatic corps on April 27 in Abuja, Kwarra disclosed that the commission had yet to procure all the devices required for the census.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the just concluded general election, Peter Obi, has lauded the postponement of the census by the Federal Government.
Obi said on Saturday that the postponement was a welcome development and had become necessary to ensure proper planning and diligence.
Reacting to the development, Obi via his Twitter handle, stated that although Nigeria was “long overdue” for a census, “conducting one requires proper planning and diligence to ensure the sanctity of the results; the efficacy of the data gathered there from, as well as their utility in driving national development goals.
“It is hoped that when eventually the census is conducted, it will serve as confidence-building measures instead of being fraught with the usual controversy.”
Similarly, the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, on Saturday, lauded Buhari for approving the postponement of the census