No Going Back on 2018 National Census, NPC Tells Dogara

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DESPITE the opposition to the 2018 national census, Eze Duruiheoma, chairman, National Population Commission, NPC, has said the NPC will continue with its preparations for the exercise. According to him, the commission will go ahead with its plans because the Federal Government has not called for the cancellation of the census.

Criticism greeted the planned population count after the NPC announced that about N222bn would be needed for the exercise. Duruiheoma was reacting to the call for the cancellation of the census by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara,  saying the  figures could be manipulated.

Dogara had stated that political interests would determine the outcome of the census rather than the actual figures. “I won’t advise anyone to conduct a national census in 2018. I said it before that if we are not going to achieve it in 2017, and then we should just forget it until after 2019. If you conduct a census just before the elections, there will be so much pressure, crisis and a 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. Then we may have something that resembles reality, but I can bet on it that if the census is conducted in 2018, the outcome will be unreliable. Seriously speaking, because I know who we are and I know the kind of litigation, backlash and the pressure that come with this kind of exercise and we don’t need that now to be candid.”

But in an interview with reporters in Abuja on Tuesday, Duruiheoma said the NPC would go ahead with its plans for the census. “The NPC is an agency of government. Whatever we say, whatever we do, we give it to government; government reacts and directs us. The Speaker (Dogara) is entitled to his views; any other person is also entitled to his or her views. That is where we are. We are supposed to be an umpire.

“We have not been asked not to go on with preparations, so we will continue to prepare. In any case, even if it is to be held in 2020 or 2021, there has to be preparations. I expect government to direct us. If the census will take place in 2030, there has to be some preparations. Preparation is a regular thing. It is not an election. Even if it is an election, you have to prepare for it.”

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