From Fred Itua, Abuja
The National Population Commission (NPC)has said it needs N222 billion to conduct a thorough and efficient national census in 2018.
The census was earlier scheduled to hold this year.
NPC Chairman, Chief Eze Duruiheoma, told the Senate Committee on Population and National Identity, when the members visited the commission on an oversight tour of the agency, that the NPC is ready for the exercise if given necessary resources.
“The commission requires N222 billion for the preparation, conducting, post-planning and analysis of the census in 2018. That is the budget we are proposing to enable us conduct the 2018 national census,” Duruiheoma said. He said the total amount released from the 2016 budget of N4.4 billion did not justify the proposal for the next census to hold in 2017, hence, a shift to 2018.The chairman explained that about N94 billion was required for pre-census stage, N120 billion for the census and over N8 billion for post census stage.
“Funding of census activities has become a periodic affair which virtually ceases after the conduct of the exercise. This has led to decay of structures and facilities for census taking and commission has to start afresh whenever there is a census to be conducted…”
your attention to the intricate manner the chronic and persistent underfunding of the commission has hindered the attainment of its noble objectives.
“Much more importantly, it has prevented the commission from deriving maximum benefits from census taking. The actual enumeration of the census is the planting season, while the harvest is the post census period when the results are properly analysed and widely disseminate for planning purposes,” he said.
The chairman, Senate Committee on National Population and Identity, Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, who led members of the committee to the NPC headquarters, said the 2018 national census is critical giving that data generated from the exercise would be needed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prepare for the 2019 elections
The senate committee chairman stated that “it is a shared opinion that 2018 is a critical year to hold that exercise because a year after that, which is 2019, is an election year.
“I think for so many reasons, the two should not be contemplated to happen the same year. In fact, the data, information that INEC would require to plot its graph accurately in the exercise will certainly arise out of the exercise of the 2018 census,” he added.
The committee said a motion has already been moved by the committee, urging President, Muhammadu Buhari to make a proclamation.
Hunkuyi said: “To contemplate that this regime should have the wherewithal to hold a successful census in 2018, we moved a motion calling on Mr President to make a proclamation.
“Since the instrument has not been part of legislation, embedded in our constitution as to say after 10 years, there will be a census, we require a proclamation by Mr President and I can assure you that the senate committee on population is prepared to apply itself to the possibility of this government holding census by 2018 as projected,” he said.
Hunkuyi further explained that “once adequate provision is made by the government, within the budget 2017, the window becomes validly opened to approach other agencies, within and outside the country, to be part of the process. It is a serial arrangement; if we miss part of it, it is likely to mar the possibility of that activity holding in 2018.”
The senate, last week, urged President Buhari to issue a proclamation for the conduct of the rescheduled national census exercise.