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Dogara warns against politicising 2018 census

From Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has warned against politicising the 2018 population census.

He called on those clamouring for conduct of the census in 2018 to exercise patience till after the 2019 elections, when, he said, there would be no political pressure to manipulate its outcome.

The Speaker advised that the next administration should conduct the census at the beginning of its tenure “when there isn’t so much at stake.”

He said conducting population census in an election year may increase the push for “unrealistic results.”

Dogara, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, maintained that he was giving the advice without putting personal or political consideration ahead of national interest.

“I won’t advise anyone to conduct census in 2018. I said it before, that if we are not going to achieve it in 2017, then we should just forget it until after 2019.

“If you conduct census at the nick of elections, there will be so much pressure, crisis and the lure for people to manipulate the figures for political reasons, such that the agency cannot even cope with.

“So, it is better for a fresh administration to conduct this exercise from the beginning of that administration when we do not have any pressure of elections in sight. But I can bet you, if the census is conducted in 2018, the outcome will be doubtable.”

Dogara said the nation did not need the kind of litigation, backlash and  pressure that usually characterised census exercise in an election year.

“We have so many challenges, let’s empower the agencies to keep building on the blocks that they will leverage on in the future in order to do the exercise, but doing it in 2018, honestly, it is nothing I would advocate.”

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