BudgIT demands breakdown of N869bn census expenditure

BudgIT, a civic organisation focused on making the Nigerian budget and public data more comprehensible and accessible, has urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to publish the breakdown for the N869 billion 2023 National Population Census budget.

The civic organisation also called on the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and Planning to make this information available on its website for easy accessibility for the citizens and stakeholders.

Clem Agba, the minister of state for budget and national planning in March, said a total of N869 billion ($1.88 billion) would be required for the exercise. This figure includes post-census activities.

According to him, N626 billion ($1.36 billion) will be used for the census at $6 per citizen, and N243 billion ($527 million) will be used for post-census activities up to 2025.

“While the census exercise is crucial for planning a progressive and sustainable development-which is not limited to knowing the revenue estimation, economic needs, unemployment level, living standard, and policies-there is a need for the commission to provide details of its budget to ensure public transparency and accountability,” according to a statement signed by Nancy Odimegwu, communications associate, BudgiT.

Read also: Why FG postponed 2023 national census

“To this end, we have requested the complete breakdown of the N869 billion for the National Population Census exercise-the amount released, utilised, and the cashback-following the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 2011.”

The civic organisation has also requested that the commission make available the list of states and local government areas that would receive these allocations.

“The country’s resources are scarce at this time, and we do not believe this is the best use of N869bn at these difficult times considering Nigeria’s current debt profile, which stands at N44 trillion,” Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, Ag Head, Open Government and Institutional Partnership.

“The 2023 elections have just ended, and Nigeria could draw some wisdom from it to help save costs during this critical period. The Nigerian government should work on reducing the multidimensional poverty of over 133 million people, and investments that will significantly reduce these numbers should be prioritised and not wasted on frivolities.”

In addition, India, with a population of 1.5 billion people, and a landmass of 3.2 million square kilometres, spent $470 million to conduct its census in 2021.

Indonesia, with a population of 273 million people, and a land mass of 1.9 million square kilometres (including some 27,000 islands), spent $292 million to conduct its census in 2020.

Brazil, with a population of 215 million people, and a landmass of 8.5 million square kilometres, spent $450 million conducting its census in 2022.

Also, Pakistan, with a population of 232 million people, and a population density of 296.23 people per square kilometre, with a total land area of 770,880 square kilometres, spent $413 million conducting its census in 2023.

However, Nigeria, with 921,000 square kilometres, and with a population of more than 220 million people, which is not up to half the size of any of the countries above, that is not more populated than any of the countries above, is about to spend $1.8 billion to conduct its census.

Also, Nigeria does not have up to a fifth of India’s population and Brazil’s landmass. The country also does not have up to a fifth of Indonesia’s land complexity, yet we plan to spend more than four times the amount to conduct the same exercise.

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