Seventeen years after the last national census (2006), Nigeria is set to conduct a fresh green census.
The green census, an approach to conducting a census that causes little or no damage to the environment, is said to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and helps in combating climate change.
The enumeration exercise, which is scheduled to hold between 29 March and 2 April across 774 local government areas of the country, is expected to gulp a total of N869 billion.
But according to Nigeria’s Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, the government has only committed about a quarter of the sum.
Nigeria’s population is estimated to be about 216 million according to the United Nations population agency, UNFPA and according to statistical projections, if the country continues in its current direction, there will be a 100 per cent increase in its population by 2050, that is an 400 million people.
Speaking at a high-level partners engagement in Abuja on Monday, Mr Agba said the census will be conducted in partnership with various development partners including the UNFPA, and EU, amongst others.
The minister noted that a total of N869 billion ($1.88 billion) will be required for the exercise, including post-census activities; N626 billion ($1.36 billion) for the census at $6 per capita and N243 billion ($527 million) for post-census activities up to 2025.
Mr Agba noted that the government has committed N291.5 billion ($632 million) representing 46 per cent of the total funding needed for the exercise.
He, therefore, invited various development partners including network providers to support the government with funding.
UNFPA, he said, is providing significant technical and financial support and would also be managing a basket fund established for the redemption of pledges.
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According to Mr Agba, 885,000 persons will be trained to conduct the dual-purpose census; population and housing. The training of these persons, the minister said, will be held just before the census but did not give an exact date.
He said 773 local governments have been demarcated with the exception of Abadam Local Government Area in Borno State where he noted that residents were not very receptive to the personnel.
He said the government has, however, adopted a hybrid enumeration strategy.
Other areas with similar challenges include, the minister noted, Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State and other localities in Zamfara State.
However, the census planning committee assured that its security and logistics committee has all it takes to handle the situation.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, also noted that digital technology will be deployed for credible, reliable and acceptable outcomes, adding that census allows the government to correctly capture changes in the population, the age structure or movement of the population for alignment of public policy, and also for investment decisions.
For this year’s census, she noted that people will not be asked about their ethnicity and religion owing to their sensitive nature.
“Including ethnicity and religion in the census will create tensions and controversy that will divert attention from the relevance of census data for national planning. It is therefore prudent to leave out these items to safeguard the census from controversies and risk of rejection by certain sections of the country,” the National Population Commission (NPC) explained.
“We have to stand up together figuring out how we take this to the goalpost. If we do not, the world will actually fail to deliver the SDGs. It is not only about Nigeria’s influence in Africa, but it is also about Nigeria’s global influence as the third most populous country in the world, 25 years from now,” said Ulla Mueller, UNFPA resident representative in Nigeria, while enjoining all stakeholders to support the exercise.
She added that the world cannot deliver on the SDGs “if we do not deliver the census in Nigeria; so when you contribute to the census in Nigeria, you also contribute to the global promise of achieving and delivering on sustainable development.”
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