By FRED NWAOZOR
TODAY, the global community is commemorating the World Population Day. The day is an annual event observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness on global population issues. The event was solely established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1989. The establishment was inspired by the public interest in July 11, 1987, which was the day the world’s population reached approximately five billion people.
Population can be defined as the total number of persons or animals of the same kind coexisting in a particular place. It can also be referred to as the summation of all the organisms of the same group or species that live in the same geographical area, and have the capability of interbreeding. In most cases, it is the human population that is mainly taken into consideration because it is the only mode of population that determines the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as the net worth of a given society or country.
The rate at which the population of a certain locality increases was attributed to two major factors namely, birth rate and death rate. The birth rate of an existing society such as a province, nation or country is an estimation of the number of kids that are being produced within a given period of time, while the death rate is the total number of individuals that cease to exist at a specific interval. It is noteworthy that every society or locality is naturally blessed with a certain number of people known as its population, which increases periodically based on the aforementioned factors.
As Nigeria joins other countries in the world to commemorate the World Population Day, there is need for collective support towards attaining a successful population census in the country come 2017. Based on the United Nations’ recent estimation, Nigeria is regarded as the seven most populous country in the world with about 178, 517, 000 people as at July 1, 2014 which is equivalent to about 2.49% of the entire global population. However, currently likewise many other nations, there’s no exact figure of the country’s population owing to several challenges or constraints, and it is pertinent to acknowledge that such phenomenon negatively affects the workforce of any country involved, thereby disrupting its socio-economic and political strength.
In view of this assertion, it is imperative for Nigeria to take steps towards ascertaining the exact number of persons that hail from the country as well as ensure that the growth of such population is adequately controlled. So, as the nation awaits her next population census, come 2017, which is usually observed every ten years, the National Population Commission (NPC) is expected to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that nothing but absolute success is recorded during the awaited exercise.
First, there is a compelling need for rigorous awareness campaign regarding the project. We must take into cognizance that not every citizen of the country, likewise other developing nations, is privileged to listen to the radio, watch television, read the newspaper/magazine, access the internet or the social media, or what have you. To this end, I implore the NPC to employ all the needed avenues with a view to ensuring that no citizen of the country is sidelined as regards information. Thus, collaborating with other relevant corporate bodies to include the National Orientation Agency (NOA), civil society groups, religious institutions, and schools, among others, would be very helpful.
Secondly, contrary to the de-facto method of enumeration that is intended to be used by the NPC during the exercise, which is not unusual compared to the previously conducted ones, I strongly insist that the De-jure method of enumeration would be more reliable and accurate for the exercise. The latter, if utilized, would unarguably enable the personnel to acquire a clear picture of every citizen of the country thereby enabling the commission (NPC) to arrive at a holistic conclusion.
The de-jure method, which involves house-count, would definitely ensure that every member of a given home or family irrespective of where he/she resides or is based is duly counted during the census. People shall be counted based on their respective states of origin; in other words, the houses to be attended to shall be those that are owned by only the indigenes of the affected state. This approach would also enable us to acquire the exact number or statistics of persons that hail from each state of the federation.
During the census, the NPC officials need to request from those present at the houses visited the documents that indicate the authenticity of the membership or citizenship of the absentees or those residing abroad, as the case may be, such as birth certificate, LGA’s certificate of origin and/or evidence of schools attended. The proposed method wouldn’t only be result-oriented, but cost and labour effective.
We have been reliably informed by the NPC that only its staff would be involved in the exercise; it is a welcome idea. But the commission is required to use every means to decisively warn its personnel or any concerned person to steer clear of any form of unpatriotic act including cheating and indolence while the counting lasts.
On the other hand, it is obvious that the project in question is capital intensive. Hence, the commission in collaboration with other relevant agencies ought to set up a competent, formidable and reliable ad-hoc committee strictly for fund raising and other related matters. Most importantly, there is a compelling need for the NPC, among other concerned authorities, to extend a hand of fellowship to make the exercise successful.
n Nwaozor writes from Owerri