The National Population Commission has told the nation’s political leaders that there are high risks if Nigeria fails to conduct the postponed 2023 national census, citing bulging demographics and economic, political and health implications, including the deterioration of insecurity.
The NPC chair, Nasir Kwarra, assured that the commission judiciously spent N200 billion on items in readiness for the national census and that the materials would be available for scrutiny.
He said, “Every cycle of the NDHS brings not only its own set of challenges but opportunities to redefine the narrative for health and social demographics in Nigeria. The importance of what we are about to undertake cannot be overstated.
“The stakes are high; the information we gather and the insights we develop have the capability to influence health and social policies, not just for the immediate future, but for a long time to come.”
Mr Kwarra said this on Thursday in Akwanga, Nasarawa, while fielding questions from journalists on the sideline of the opening ceremony of the Training Interviewers for the 2023 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).
The House of Representatives had on Wednesday sought to investigate the N200 billion spent on preparations for the postponed 2023 census by NPC. The NPC boss said the procurement preparatory processes for the census were enduring, and the items it procured were durable as they would be used for the next census because they are readily available.
“We don’t have to procure these items again and the training that we have conducted remains with the people we trained, the facilitators, the supervisors and the enumerators,” Mr Kwarra explained. “So, what we may need to do is to do refresher training for the trial census that we did because it’s been more than a year.”
He added, “We will do a similar thing, but maybe the scope will be reduced because we don’t have to go all out again and conduct a full-blown trial census. So, most things are in place, right from the personal digital assistants procured are well secured in our various Central Bank of Nigeria offices nationwide.”
The NPC boss added that other facilities such as manuals for the training, the ICT equipment, and data centres have been continually developed and that the commission is on course for the census. He, however, said that he believes that the nation still needs the census because the security issue depends on it.
“No matter what, we need this data so that we can plan for the development of the country, including addressing the issue of security,” Mr Kwarra stressed.
On the importance of the NDHS, Kwarra said over the years, the survey stood as a beacon of reliable, comprehensive data, providing policymakers, actionable researchers and stakeholders with insights to make informed decisions.