Nigeria must put everything in place to ‘honestly’ determine how many Nigerians are alive, an information critical to national development and social investment plans, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said on Wednesday.
Previous censuses were marred by fraud and irregularities with many people in southern Nigeria rejecting population figures from the North and describing them as inflated. It is only in Nigeria, many argued, that a “desert area like northern Nigeria has more people than the area filled with water and forest like in the south”.
“We must be able to honestly determine how many we are as a people,” the Vice President said at a meeting with a delegation from the National Population Commission, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande.
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According to him, “having a reliable harmonised data base” will help social-economic planning including the Homegrown School Feeding Programme and the Conditional Cash Transfer, two of the several social investment plans of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
Mr. Osinbajo tasked the Commission on conducting a reliable, cost-effective and acceptable census bearing in mind the irregularities that have trailed some of the previous census exercises.
“Technology has now made it possible to harmonise data,” the VP said, adding that “with technology we can actually bring down the cost of data-gathering.” Because of technology, data gathering has also become simpler, more efficient and cheaper, he added.
The Chairman of the Commission, Eze Duruheoma, said the Commission is working with other agencies and stakeholders such as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to produce a single platform of data management for the country. This, he explained, will reduce cost in the future, ensure authenticated identities as well as easy personal identification.
He noted that the national population register about to be put up by the National Population Commission would be the primary source of data as it will give reliable identification of the citizens from the “cradle to the grave”.