The House of Representatives on Wednesday tasked the federal government to conduct a national census before the end of 2020.
It said the result from the last one conducted in 2006 is no longer effective for policymaking.
Ademorin Kuye (APC, Lagos), whose motion led to this resolution, called this unfortunate, adding that until census is made a mandatory national ritual, held at intervals like elections, “Nigeria will continue to have delays in organising national census.”
The need for a census, he argued, is borne out of the fact that its figures are critical for national planning as without a census the government cannot provide adequately for its citizens.
“Government requires data to know the number of children being born, the number of schools and hospitals that will be needed, how many workers are in a given town and how many foreigners are in the country, for proper provision of infrastructural facilities.
“Nigeria has a dynamic economy and a large population which is expected to double in the next two decades and census is a pivotal and necessary tool for the growth of any emerging society, which in turn informs decision-making at all facets of public and private sectors.”
Mr Kuye suggested that the headcount, as is globally practised, should be conducted at least once every 10 years.
In the past, planned population census has been botched either for security, political or financial concerns.
For instance, in 2018, the National Assembly called for the postponement of the proposed population census because it feared that it might end in chaos since it was coming on the eve of the 2019 general elections.
Mr Kuye then recalled that partial census held in Lagos and its environs and some parts of the then Southern Protectorate in 1866, 1869, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1911.
Subsequently, nationwide census held in 1952, 1962 and 1973, the latest being 2006, he said.
The last census was, however, alleged to have been ‘politicised’ and marred by ‘overcounting’.
Many of the 2016 census figures for states and local governments were nullified by the courts as inaccurate.
In Lagos, whose population the 2016 census put at over 9 million, the state government challenged the figures and conducted its own census, putting its population at over 16 million. That state figure, with projected adjustments, is what the state government and many local and international organisations have been using as the population of Lagos.
Since the 2016 census, Nigeria has been using projected estimates for its population, thereby making government policies weak and easily manipulated.
The lawmakers, therefore, unanimously urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to come up with a feasible timetable for the exercise not later than 2020.
The House also advised the federal government to provide necessary logistics for the exercise.
It advocated the setting up of an ad-hoc committee to liaise with the NPC, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning and the National Bureau of Statistics “to work out modalities on how to conduct a census in 2020 and also to liaise with other foreign donors such as UNFPA, EU, USAID, UNESCO, AU for necessary support for the exercise.”