From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja 

The Federal Government has assured that the conduct of the 2023 population and housing census would be without blemish.

National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rted), gave the assurance at the inauguration of the 2023 Population and Housing Census Security and Logistic Committee in Abuja, yesterday.

Monguno who chairs the committee said census was of utmost priority to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.  He said the planning and conduct of a gigantic programme such as the census would no doubt come with challenges in terms of security and logistics arrangement. 

He said the government was, however, committed to providing the nation accurate and reliable demographic data for policy formulation and planning for sustainable development. 

He said the exercise was also in line with President Buhari’s desire to bequeath an enduring legacy of evidence based planning for sustainable development.

Monguno said due to the crucial and pivotal role a credible and reliable census data plays in planning for sustainable development, the security committee is necessary as a first step towards ensuring the peaceful and smooth conduct of the Census.

The NSA said in line with its mandate of generating demographic data for the purpose of development planning, the National Population Commission (NPC) has over the years invested considerable time and resources planning for the census. He assured that the NPC would give the country a truly scientific census data that will serve as guide for planning within the context of global economic challenges, insecurity and other human development situation.

“To this end, the National Population Commission has resolved to conduct the first fully digital census that will give the nation credible, reliable and trustworthy data which will serve as basis for driving government planning for infrastructure, security, budget allocations and development intervention agendas.  

“The task before the national security and logistic committee is huge. Nigeria is not only diverse in size, but also languages, residence, age and socio-economic orientation. Given the scope of the 2023 population and housing census which will cover the entire country and involving the counting of every person resident in Nigeria and taking place simultaneously in every household in the country, safeguarding the personnel and materials as well as the smooth channelling of same, is imperative to the overall success of the census exercise. With these at the back of our minds and the desire to succeed in this venture, this committee must be conscious of several risks factors that may militate against the successful conduct of the 2023 census.”

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Monguno said potential areas of threats to the census includes physical attacks on NPC staff and facilities, attacks on security personnel on census duty, inter/intra-communal violence disrupting preparatory and main census work, attacks targeting NPC databases and ICT architecture, intimidation of members of the public to dissuade them from participating in the process, snatching and destruction of census materials, among others.

“Most prominent is the issue of insecurity arising from banditry, kidnapping, armed conflicts, terrorism, insurgency and other violent crimes which poses a major challenge to the census exercise. However, the government has put in serious efforts to make the country safe for everyone. It is expected that with coordinated synergy by this Committee, the safe movement of personnel and materials before, during and after the census will be guaranteed because we have the confidence that with the calibre of members of this Committee, this national assignment will be carried out successfully.”

Mungonu said the government considered the wealth of experience and commitment to nation building, before carefully selecting members of the committee.

He listed their duties and responsibilities to include support, intervene in the security and logistic arrangements to safeguard census personnel and materials as well mobilize logistic resources for the census, devise appropriate strategies for storage, distribution and retrieval of census equipment and materials where the need arises.

“I am delighted to state that for a robust security and logistic architecture, this committee will be replicated in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and in the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.”

Chairman of the Commission, Nasir Kwarra, assured that NOC attaches great importance to the work of the Security and Logistic Committee whose work, is very critical and important to the Commission in its quest to give Nigerian credible, reliable and acceptable census data for national planning.

He assured the committee of the commission’s support, saying: “We are ready to fully support the Committee in all areas to make it succeed in its assignments. The commission will without delay organize workshop on processes and methodologies for the census to keep members of the committee up-to-date on the preparation for the census.”

Chairman of General Services Committee, Patricia Iyanya, said commission is at the the final preparations for a successful conduct of the 2023 Population and Housing Census.

She reiterated the need to set up committees for collaboration in different spheres of the project specifically logistics and security.