It would be recalled that the last census conducted in Nigeria was in March, 2006 and it put the population at about One Hundred and forty million. But according to the law establishing the commission, census should be conducted every ten years. This means that, the latest national head count would have been conducted in 2016.
However, according to reliable sources, the Federal Government did not muster the political will to approve it as due.
The recent world population prospects predict that by 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the world. Much as Nigerians appear to have accepted the NPC’s estimate, the fact is that the country is overdue for the exercise. If for no other reason, various institutions need the data as the yardstick for their operations and cannot boast of accuracy on the outcome of their socio-economic services.
For instance, many organizations such as the National Bureau of Statistics, The National Planning Commission, Scholars and research institutes, State governments, Non–Governmental Organizations and indeed International organizations depend on the figures released by the National Population Commission. This, to say the least, is a failure on the part of the commission.
It has variously been canvassed that without building strong institutions, no nation can succeed in their hope for the desired national development.
This is the bane of Nigeria’s political economy. Most of the critical institutions with specific mandates are facing obvious challenges of either government neglect or corruption, lack of capacity building, nepotism and tribalism among others, and consequently have failed to deliver on the need for their well-intended creation and interdependence for various services in the economic value chain.
Today, many states of the federation and their planning and research departments are far from using anything near an accurate population data in their planning.
However, it would be recalled that the 2006 head count sparked off controversies on issues of religion, ethnicity and inflation of numbers.
It is an incontrovertible fact that data inaccuracy will attend to the population growth rate projections in some parts of Nigeria, particularly, the South East Zone which, most unfortunately recorded the poorest population count due to a campaign against participation mounted by some groups who appeared to be ignorant of the negative effect of such a boycott.
For instance, according to the 2006 National Census result, South East Zone was approximately sixteen million people; South–South zone, twenty-one million; South West, twenty-seven and half million; North Central, eighteen and half million; North East, almost nineteen million, while North West recorded over thirty-five and half million people.
Population data is also used in the allocation of national resources among others. Besides, an updated census is necessary for the accurate application of demographic figures in national planning, particularly in election matters, youths unemployment, gender issues, and for high density areas like Lagos, Onitsha and Kano.
Given that the National Identity Card Registration Council (NICRC) has been on its own duty line, it has not been easy for it as millions of Nigerians are yet to be captured, particularly at the hinter lands. There is no doubt about the undue politicization of national census. However, according to Romans Chapter Six, Verse 1, “shall we continue to live in sin, that grace may abound”.