The Director General of the National Population Commission, Ghaji Bello, says the National Population Census will hold in 2018 if necessary logistics are provided.
Mr. Bello also said the proposed 2018 census will cost an estimated N272 billion.
Mr. Bello, in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in New York on Sunday, said that the exercise should have been conducted in 2016 in line with international practice.
“If we are given all the resources that we need today, we may need possibly the first quarter of next year before we can do proper census.
“Because there are quite a number of processes that have to be undertaken as part of the preparatory activities between now and the actual census phase itself.
“And that would be sometimes in the first quarter of 2018 and thereabout.
“Ordinarily, it ought to have a cycle of its own and that cycle should be five years or 10 years.
“We should have conducted the last census in 2016 but for a variety of reasons outside the control of the population commission, we were unable to do it.
“One, in 2015, there was a general election; because of the preparations towards the general election, that in a way affected our ability to be mobilised to move with full gear for the 2016.
“Secondly, once the election was concluded and there was a new government in place, that government also has to get its foot on ground before it can move forward.
“But no sooner had it started to settle down than there was the issue of recession, collapse of the oil in the international market and with a variety of other reasons again, it just didn’t happen.”
To meet the UN 10-year benchmark, Mr.Bello said the commission was working for a constitutional amendment that would allow for scheduled conduct of the census.
He added that the conduct of the census under the present administration would give the exercise a deserved National and International credibility and reliability.
“We are of the firm belief that if it is conducted under this government, that there will be a lot of international credibility for the exercise.
“This is given the persona of the president that is there presently.
“And then people take advantage of climes and environment and chances and there are times when everything works in your favour.
“We believe firmly in the National Population Commission that census conducted under President Muhammadu Buhari would go a long way in actually achieving the credibility that we want.”
The director-general explained that Nigeria would take advantage of technology in the next population census through the use of biometrics.
“That will put to rest, the issue as to whether people are counting donkeys or fishes or horses or cows or trees.”
Of the estimated N272 billion, Mr. Bello said the Federal Government was expected to fund the exercise by only 51 per cent while the international donor community would fund the remaining 49 per cent.
“The submission we have made to the Federal Government is in the region of N272 billion. But the good thing is that that the N272 billion is not for one single year.
“It is spread along a four-year tenure. There’s pre-census activities, that is the preparation; the actual census proper itself and the post-census enumeration activities.
“So maybe you are looking at an average of maybe N40 billion in the first year, another N100 billion during the actual census itself and then the balance during the last year.
“But the beauty again is that not all the resources are normally provided by the government of the federation.
“The international community does come in and supporters like EU, USAID; from the previous record that we have, the ratio is 51 to 49 per cent.
“The 51 per cent is provided by the Federal Government while the 49 per cent is provided by the international donor community.
“Therefore, it is something that once government makes a proclamation, then it means that the country is ready and the international community will come and support the government,” he said.
Mr. Bello also said there was the need for the government to leverage on the international community to help with the necessary assistance, adding that this would go a long way in defraying the cost.
“Normally, there is no country that does census on its own and more so, it is a very capital-intensive activity. Funding is important because we have to demarcate.
“There is an exercise that is called Enumeration Area Demarcation which is supposed to be the foundation or the building block of census.
“And that is supposed to be carried out in every hamlet, every village, every local government, every household and then the entire nation.
“That is normally a costly exercise, very expensive. And of course, up till now we have only been able to do 74 local governments out of 774.
“It means we have done only 10 per cent. So, for us to be able to do the remaining 700 local governments, it means there is a lot of work to do.
“Essentially, we are on track; we have the capacity in-house but again there are quite a number of things, unless you are funded, you won’t be able to move forward,” Mr. Bello said.
According to him, the census will enable the government to have correct data about its citizens in order to aid proper planning.
“That planning means you are going to optimise in terms of your allocation of resources to those sectors that really need that intervention.
“Census has implication for trade, for manufacturing and for security because we will have the biometrics of every Nigerian.
“Then it means making life easy for security outfits like the police, EFCC, ICPC and the military because you can monitor even the scene of crime from the data that you have collected.
“So, serious countries actually collect data and it is the data that they use in order to govern their society,” he said.