• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Knocks, applauses trail postponement of 2023 census

Ex-minister Lai Mohammed gets international lobbying job

Nigerians, including leading economists and political activists have differed in their reactions to the postponement of the national population and housing census as approved by president Muhammadu Buhari, Saturday.

While some Nigerians applauded the decision, saying it would give the country more time to plan and deliver a credible census that would guide effective development and implementation of policies for development, others tackled Buhari’s government for poor decision making and leadership fatigue.

However, some Nigerians who took to social media to share their views called for the cancellation of the census entirely, explaining that government can improve and utilise the National Identification Number (NIN), birth and death records to ascertain population which would in turn save the country’s resources.

On Saturday morning, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the postponement of the 2023 Population and Housing Census, earlier scheduled for 3-7 May 2023.

According to a statement signed by the minister, a new date would be determined by the incoming administration. In arriving at the decision to postpone the census, the minister stated that the some members of the Federal Executive Council and the Chairman of the National Population Commission and his team during a meeting with Buhari 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.

Reacting, Yemi Kale, partner, chief economist, and head research at KPMG applauded government ‘s decision, stressing that getting population right is critical to the growth and development of Nigeria.

“I would support a postponement rather than a shoddy job. Getting our population right is the first and arguably most critical step in planning. Once that’s wrong any policy, program or project based on or targeting people is already destined to fail unless it’s luck,” Kale tweeted.

“We prefer & concentrate on the few less important revenue & political seats benefits of getting our population data “wrong” that we give up the many, many growth, development, security, employment, living standards, poverty reduction & other planning benefits of getting it right.”

The economist however advised that, rather than having thousands of enumerators going all over the country, citizens should rather go to get registered because there is some benefit to them from doing so and/or cost for not doing so. He said there is also already huge information via Bank Verification Number , NIN, etc

“First harmonise and get registrants to update whatever added information is required then get ok those not captured to also register to get some benefit or risk losing something. The Local Government centre are all equipped to capture all info etc. And it can be done all year round. Each new registration gets some benefit. Every recorded death also gets some benefit or some other incentive to go to your LG centre and register. Since it’s biometrics it is hard for it to be duplicated. All centres are linked electronically”, he tweeted.

Also, Atedo Peterside, president and founder ANAP foundation and ANAP jets, applauded the postponement, but said a census would not be necessary, id government van leverage on NIN. “Thank God for the postponement of a Census that we do not need. If @nimc_ng would wake up to its responsibilities & issue National Identification Numbers (NIN) to every Nigerian + issue Identity Cards speedily thereafter, we would know how many we are, and have biometrics as proof”, he tweeted.

Joe Abah, another Twitter user and an author, also agreed that the focus should be on NIN and should be tied to the birth and death registers that the National Population Commission holds.

Another Nigerian with the Twitter handle
@surajoteete wrote, “This is a welcome development, let’s wait for better time to prepare well to execute a credible census.”

But some Nigerians have expressed there disappointment at the government. They also raised concerns around accountability for the funds already disbursed for the elections.

“So all the money spent on training and production of manuals is a waste? What is the reality that the same People will be retain to do the work?”@TimothyTanthon2 tweeted.

@hardreder wrote, “”I am in shock after reading the fifth paragraph. It states that they have supposedly recruited and trained ad hoc staff, but it seems that they have cunningly embezzled billions of funds. The situation is distressing, and one can only wonder if Nigeria can ever recover???”

Ogunlaja Ireti, a human resource professional with the Twitter handle @ogunlajaireti wrote “Some of us knew from day one that it would not hold. Some people just want to clear out the account of the commission before the next admin. It’s a #cashout season.”

“See how hard @MBuhari’s team are working so hard. No one should imagine that it is easy to plan and postpone, plan and postpone. See the subsidy removal and 2023 census for instance. May they continue to work hard until May 29, certainly they won’t postpone that one”, @brotherbarth wrote.