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Towards succesful population and housing census preparation in Ekiti state

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OJO OLADELE in this report examines the extent of preparations towards the 2023 population census. 

Population, undoubtedly, is being perceived by quite a good number of people in the society as a critical determining factor in a nation’s efforts towards achieving sustainable development.

Nigeria, with a projected population of 216,783,381 by the National Population Commission (NPC) and being the seventh most populous nation on planet earth and clearly the most populous country on the African continent would by 2050,  without mincing words, be the third most populous country after China and India.

The reasons for this is however not far-fetched but due largely to the rapidly growing nature of the population especially  a large proportion of youthful population.

Therefore going by the current rate of growth and also by relying on estimated parameters, there is a need for another head count. This is based on a census conducted 16 years ago meant to make important decisions and drive the country’s development agenda forward. Anything outside this would appear counter productive.

Bane of irregular census

However, the continuous usage of the 2006 census for the estimation of Nigeria’s population has created a data gap in global population which does not do credit to the nation’s reputation.

Therefore, Nigeria’s population, despite its high-ranking position on the global demographic map, has been conducted irregularly and at intervals longer than the United Nation’s 10-year recommendations. 

Following the approval by the federal government, the National Population Commission (NPC) commenced in earnest the preparations for the conduct of the next population and housing census which was originally fixed for March 29 but now shifted to April 2nd to the shift in the last election date, especially the governorship election.

The last population census was conducted 16 years ago, precisely in 2006. Previous censuses were conducted in 1991,1973 and 1963 respectively in that order. Expectedly, the next census would have been held in 2016, but delayed for inexplicable reasons till date. 

This irregular and long interval of census taking in Nigeria has apparently denied the nation the huge benefits of comprehensive baseline data for evidence-based decision making.

It has also been observed that Nigeria has one of the fastest growing populations with a growth rate of 3.2 percent and estimated population of over 200 million.

Capturing the essential dynamics of such a rapidly growing population requires a regular conduct of censuses preferably every 10 years as recommended by the United Nations.

The country’s inability to conduct a population census in the last 16 years has created an information vacuum as the data from last census conducted in 2006 has been rendered less useful for planning purposes.

Ongoing preparations

Preparations for the conduct of the census have reached an advanced stage with the demarcation of 98 percent of the total land area of the country into enumeration areas.

Since the assumption of office of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in 2015, the federal government has introduced several poverty reduction and youth empowerment programmes which are making concrete improvement in the living standards of the people.

There were agitations for further implementation of these programmes as it is being driven by the current data from the census data that will improve the implementation of programmes targeting vulnerable populations and ensure no one is left behind.

Deriving from the above is the fact that a census is bound to attract profound international support and participation on various levels for strategic reasons.

Development partners and countries have shown interest in providing technical assistance, materials support and funding for the exercise.

Demonstration exercise in Ekiti

The processes and methodology for the conduct of the 2023 Population and Housing Census presentation at the state level capacity building briefing note for journalists on effective reporting of the exercise was however presented by the official of the National Population Commission (NPC) Mrs Yemisi Ipinlaye recently at the NUJ Secretariat in Ado-Ekiti,the Ekiti state capital.

Stressing further on the imperatives for the conduct of the 2023 Population and Housing Census, she said, “The commission is mindful of the current economic recession which has reduced revenue at the disposal of the government against the background of competing demands including Covid -19 pandemic. To that extent,  the commission is convinced that conducting the next census is one huge investment the nation must make to launch Nigeria into the path of economic prosperity through proper planning and optimal allocation of resources.”

NPC is also not unmindful of concerns that have been expressed over the grave security implications.

Giving the recent successes being recorded by the gallant Armed Forces in the fight against insurgency/the technical defeat of Boko Haram and the successful conduct of general elections in 2015 and 2019, the security situation for the census can be handled.

On the state of preparations for the census which began with the formulation of an implementation plan with detailed information on the strategies, activities, timeframe and budget covering all phases of the census process, the commission said everything is being put in place.

“The plan also addresses census components such as mapping and enumeration area,  demarcation, information technology, enumeration procedures and advocacy and publicity.”

The document which was formulated in accordance with the United Nations principles and recommendations for 2020 World Programme on PHCs and international best practices, sought to leverage on technology to make the census process more efficient and cost- effective through the conduct of a fully digital census process.

Detailed demarcations

The most significant preparatory step taken by the commission is the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD), which is the process of delineating the entire land area of the country into small (mutually exclusive) geographical and demographic units called  Enumeration Areas (EAs).

The units comprise a specified number of persons and households which a team of enumerators can cover during a census.

Planning for the census is anchored on the EAD as the basis for estimating both the human and material resources required for the census.

It is crystal clear that the NPC as of today is the repository of the country’s most accurate and reliable geospatial database.

This Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) is expected to be the basis next census and will serve as a national frame for the conduct of future censuses, specialised surveys & continuous  compulsory civil registration & virtual statistics for the country.

Other benefits to be derived from the EAD, according to NPC include providing maps for future censuses and surveys to statistical agencies such as the National Bureau of Statistics, state statistical agencies, other national and international agencies undertaking research activities.

It will also provide sample frames for the conduct of surveys in the country.

Besides all these, It would help to adequately identify the country’s internal and external boundaries.

Others include that it would provide information on locations that will assist security agencies track insecurity and provide information on the number of buildings and households in Nigeria.

It would as well assist delineation of the ward boundaries for electoral and national development programmes.

It will also provide a reliable platform for building geo-coding system by Nigeria postal Agency.



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