From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a proclamation for holding of a population and housing census in 2018 and also release adequate funds for the conduct of the exercise.
According to the United Nations (UN), census should be conducted every 10 years. The last census exercise in Nigeria was conducted in 2006 during the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
The call by the senate, followed a motion tagged “A call for the Federal Government to expedite action on the planned 2018 National Census”, sponsored by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi from Kaduna state and four others.
In the motion, Hunkuyi noted that the delay in the issuance of a proclamation by President Buhari and the poor release of funds to the National Population Commission (NPC) were major setbacks.
He said in accordance with international practices, a well planned and executed census population should take a minimum of two years.
“It is only pertinent that subsequent population census be carried out within an adequate timing and with the objective of conducting an acceptable exercise,” he added.
The lawmaker argued that inadequate funds for the preparation process towards the 2016 population census was appropriated by the National Assembly in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 budgets. He said this was part of the reasons for the failure of the exercise in 2016.
“Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the NPC, Ministry of Budget and National Planning and any supervising agencies must make adequate provision in the 2018 budget as a critical prerequisite to achieving the 2017/2018 population census,” he said.
Senator John Enoh urged the relevant government agencies to include the total cost of conducting the national census in the 2017 budget. He further maintained that going forward, the Federal Government should adhere to the United Nations (UN) position that census be conducted every 10 years.
On his part, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha from Taraba state, said “if they tell us the number of people that have been killed in the North-East, some of us will faint. It is important for us to support this motion and ensure that funds are released for the conduct of the national census and call on President Buhari to make a proclamation.
Senator Robert Borofice said: “The resources we have now are being used in the North-East and in the Niger Delta. I do not see the reason why monies should not be released to NPC for them to conduct the national census. The huge sum of money we will need in getting data from abroad is expensive. Let us channel that money into NPC so that they can conduct the census.”
Senator Albert Akpan from Akwa Ibom state urged NPC and the federal government to make early preparations and ensure that the outcome of the census exercise is credible. He warned that the mistakes of 2006, when Kano and Lagos states contested the outcome of the exercise, must be avoided.
Other lawmakers who contributed agreed with the sponsor of the motion that adequate funds be made available to NPC in order to carry out the exercise in 2018 and in subsequent exercises.
Ekweremadu, who presided, warned NPC not to conduct a national census that would be deliberated.
“I want to thank the sponsor of the motion. As we approach the next census, we must take advantage of the development in technology and make the results of the exercise acceptable. All the previous exercises have been disputed. We want this exercise to count. Every Nigerian must be counted and no one should be counted twice. If we do this, we will be able to plan,” Ekweremadu added.