By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the Federal Government to make a definite pronouncement on the commencement of the National Population census due in the fourth quarter of 2019.
This followed a motion of urgent matter of Public importance titled “Need to Conduct Census for proper planning and development in Nigeria”, moved by Rep Prestige Ossy during plenary in Abuja.
The House also urged the federal Government to mobilise the National Population for the completion of Enumeration Area Demarcation and preliminary preparation of the exercise.
Moving the motion, Ossy noted that according to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, Nigeria had a dynamic economy and a large population expected to double in the next two decades.
He pointed out that Census was pivotal and necessary tool for the growth of any emerging society, which in turn informed decision making at all facets and endeavours of both government and private sector.
The lawmaker explained that the last census was held in 2006 and that the nation’s population then was estimated at 140, 431,790, with estimated growth of less than three per cent yearly.
He lamented that 12 years after the last census, the current population of Nigeria could not be ascertained thus the estimated 297 million by the present Chairman of the National Population Commission could not be said to be accurate or reliable.
He expressed concern that the lack of up to date and accurate data on population in Nigeria had affected national planning, development at all levels that culminated into human and agricultural insecurity in Nigeria.
The lawmaker further lamented that a census based on Biometric data would capture all Nigerians and assisted towards solving the problems of infiltration and internal security challenges such as kidnapping, terrorism, armed robbery, farmers and herdsmen unrest among others.
In his contribution, Hon Pally Iriase stated that there was dire need to know the actual population of the country for adequate and proper planning.
According to him, “our economists are not ashamed when they churn out figures, this is where Nigeria needs to rise up to the occasion. Let us know how many we are in Nigeria. The last population figure was given to us in 2006.
“We don’t know our population, the popularity is staring us in the face, we are unaware of it. I don’t know whether 2019 will be a realistic one, being an election year. But the earlier we have the census the better for us”.
On his part, Hon Nuhu Dambramum expressed worry over the possibility of conducting the Census next year being an election year.
According to him, “my worry is that next year is going to be an election year and for any census to take place, the President needs to make a proclamation. A proclamation has not been done. We hope when we pass this notion and the resolution goes to the President, he would make a proclamation”.
Other lawmakers who contributed to the debate supported the motion because of its importance to the growth and the overall development of the Country.
The House, therefore, mandated its committee on legislative compliance to liaise with the National Population Commission for strict compliance and report back to it for further legislative action.