Col. Abubakar Umar (retd.), a former Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and some civil society organisations are united in calling for the suspension of a population census next year.
Stating that it was a misplaced priority, they asked the government to focus attention on the insecurity in the country and the forthcoming elections.
Nasir Isa-Kwarra, Director-General of the National Population Commission of Nigeria, had disclosed the approval of the Nigeria Council of State for the conduct of a National Census by April 2023.
In his reaction, Col. Umar, who is also the founder and chairman of the Movement for Unity and Progress, stressed that a country that was “facing existential challenges cannot have as one of its priorities the conduct of a national census.”
“We, therefore, urge the Buhari administration to suspend what will amount to a misadventure and waste of scarce national resources.
“This administration should focus all its attention on securing the nation and conducting the 2023 elections.
“A national census at this point is certainly not a priority. assuming that its conduct is possible.”
Senior Advocate of Nigeria Ahmed Raji said it would be meaningless to conduct a census without security.
He stated, “Security is very crucial because there may be no meaningful census without security. Perhaps the government is hopeful that before April next year, we would have overcome the security challenges.
“There is no harm in planning based on some expectations/hopes. They should work hard towards the expectations and hopes. And the citizens should equally support fighting insecurity. While the government takes the lead, we must all support to achieve lasting peace, but the government must demonstrate sincerity and determination.”
The spokesman for the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Mr Ken Robinson, described the planned census as an irrelevant ritual of misplaced importance.
He stated, “Census is necessary but the timing is wrong. PANDEF agrees with the thoughts and impressions that the government does the right thing at the wrong time. This is one such instance. What is paramount to Nigeria now is the safety of lives and property and not a census. That is what they should focus on. They should stop throwing up an issue that is likely to be controversial with all the misconceptions around it.
“We think that the government should shelve the idea of a census for the next government, which will handle the issue of security first before the census. We should be talking about a census in perhaps 2025 or 2026.”