Trial Census: Towards A Better 2023 Census

Trial Census: Towards A Better 2023 Census

Joel Ajayi

As the National population Commission, NPC began the census dress rehearsal in preparation for the 2023 general housing and population census in the country Joel Ajayi takes a critical look at the impact of trials, commission preparedness, security, and importance of the population in general.

Despite the challenges here and there, the coast is now clear for the conduct of the 2023 population census across the country as the trial census began.

The Population Census, scheduled for 2023, will be coming shortly after the general elections, no doubt about it, next year will be a crowded season for the entire country.

A census is a procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population.

As part of preparatory activities for the census, meetings, workshops, and training were organized across the nation.

The Commission has done a lot to achieve this feat, it has carried out the Enumeration Area Demarcation which is the division of the entire land area of Nigeria into small unit areas that can be covered by a pair of enumerators during the census period.

So far, 772 Local Government Areas as of December 2021 have been demarcated.

Given the scope of manpower required, the Commission had to source personnel from outside the Commission bringing on board thousands of young Nigerians during EAD to enable the commission to have a better, reliable, and acceptable headcount.

On Monday 27th of June 2022, the commission took another bold step and began its trial census in preparation for the 2023 general housing and population census.

Their trial census would cover the 36 states of the federation and the FCT and this is going to be taking place simultaneously across the federation.

Also, six local government areas were selected from a state in each of the six geo-political zones have been full enumerated which include, Toungo Local Government Area, Adamawa State – North East, Daura Local Government Area, Katsina State, North West, Karu Local Government Area, Nasarawa State, North Central.

Others were Imeko-Afon Local Government Area, Ogun State, South West, Idemili South Local Government Area, Anambra State, South East, Brass Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, and South-South.

However, the importance of the census is endless and ranges from Knowing the size of the population; Determining the number of taxable adults; Forecasting possible economic needs; Determining the number of unemployed citizens, and the standard of living of the citizens in the country.

Another census advantage is to reveal the level of manpower; estimating the number of migrants and immigrants. Determining the population density. Providing social amenities as well as assisting the government and international agencies in helping the country.

Though, the outcome of the ongoing trial census will not form the basis of the 2023 census., as data generated during the trial census will not be used to arrive at figures for the 2023 census, which is going to be zero-based and from information collected in April 2023. However, it would go a long way to help the commission measures its preparedness, loopholes for conducting better, accurate and acceptable population census come 2023.

The trial census will also test all aspects of census operations, from planning to implementation including logistics arrangement and management, questionnaire design and format, training procedures, fieldwork operations, publicity, payment system, data processing, data tabulations and analysis.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Chairman, NPC, Nasir Isa-Kwarra, during a media briefing on the commencement of the trial census exercise also known as the “census dress rehearsal”, revealed that trial census is another key preparatory activity ahead of the census

He stated that it would run from June 27 to July 30, 2022, with coverage of about 7,718 enumerated areas.

“The population census is key to achieving national planning and consequently overall development.

“The selection of the coverage areas has been scientifically and purposefully carried out to achieve the objectives of the Trial Census.”

However, he applauded the support of the media for always disseminating information and Educating reports as well as in-depth reports on census preparatory activities which has placed the 2023 Census at the center of national discourse as well as mobilizing Nigerians for its successful conduct.

“As the Commission takes the next crucial steps towards the 2023 Census, the Commission will continue to count on the collaboration and partnership of the Nigerian media.”

He, therefore, appealed to all strategic partners to join hands with the Commission in realizing the dream of providing the needed demographic data that will facilitate and place our country on the pedestal of sustainable development.

He reiterated that the commission will leave no stone unturned to ensure an accurate, acceptable census that will be essential to national planning and development.

Also, the NPC Boss tasked newly recruited enumerators to ensure accuracy in data gathering during the trial census.

Kwarra underscored the need for enumerators to be thorough, painstaking, and accurate in the data gathering, adding that accurate data would foster quality planning for national development.

He further said that the conduct of the forthcoming census will be digital, as a result, it is imperative for the enumerators to learn the nitty-gritty of the process to guarantee accurate data.

He said: “We want to have accurate data. Please, give maximum attention to facilitators as they train you.

“Get acquainted with these hand-held devices. Without accurate data, we cannot plan adequately in this country.

“Without census data, anything a country is doing is just to make up. This is why every country, including Nigeria, is trying to do whatever they can to make sure that the census process is efficient because the outcome of that process is going to sustain the country for years to come.

“If we don’t get data accurately, we will mislead planners. That is why it is important that we get it right.”

In her remarks, Mrs. Patience Mbagwu, Acting Director-General of NPC, reiterated the need for quality and accurate data, urging the enumerators to carry out the national assignment conscientiously.

Mbagwu charged them to utilize the 12 days training period to get acquainted with the entire process, urging them to commit themselves to the success of the trial census.

She restated that a digital, paperless census would be conducted, just like their recruitment was done electronically to ensure transparency and promote merit.

Though all might be set for the 2023 headcount exercise, there are many factors militating against it?

The phenomenon of ethnicity and religion brought to Nigeria among other negative impacts includes discrimination, corruption, and politics of federal character.

Similarly, economic development and social and cultural development could be regarded as major problems in Nigeria.

Also, the security of life in Nigeria is nothing to write home about and for Nigeria to have it right, safety must be guaranteed.

Another reason to believe that records doctoring, Insufficient and Ineffective Census Educational Campaign and Falsification of Population Census Result in the population census in Nigeria due to past experience of the census conducted in 2006, the demographic data were said to be deliberately falsified, thus the population was exaggerated in the published results.

Meanwhile, early planning, proper organization, and deployment of modern and improved technologies for data collection must be adopted by National Population Commission

In conclusion, if Nigeria must get it right and plan with facts, it must get it right and plan with facts, it must strive to conduct credible and widely acceptable censuses in the future.

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