NPC to Include Religion, Ethnicity in 2018 National Census

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• Warns lack of presidential proclamation, funding may stop exercise
Paul Obi in Abuja
The Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), has disclosed that religion and ethnicity will be included in the 2018 national census.

Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, ahead of the Phase three Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD), Duruiheoma said religion and ethnicity would not be left out in the next census.

“When we make commitment on improving on what might have happened in the past, some of these things (ethnicity and religion) are what we mean. We intend to improve on them. I am not saying that anything went terribly bad in the past, because I was not here, so I don’t even know what happened.
“But we will make sure that whatever product we produce after this census we contemplate, will be accepted by Nigerians. That should be the test.

“Those things that ought to be there like religion and ethnicity; we want Nigerians to be involved. The assurance I gave out is that those things you mentioned would not be left out in the census we are contemplating,” he added.

Duruiheoma also said the lack of the presidential proclamation has continued to prevent full commencement of the exercise.
He explained that lack of funding by government has prompted the commission to kickstart the Enumeration Area Demarcation  (EAD) in piecemeal.

 He said: “Proclamation is very crucial and we have continued to ask for it. It is not an elaborate thing; it’s just a statement of intent by Mr. President.
“The issue of proclamation is closely related to so many things; particularly, the issue relating to funding. I will tell you what proclamation can do for us, proclamation will unlock so many doors.

“Usually all over the world, census is not an internal thing, it is not left entirely to the government of that country. Outside donors play very important roles. This proclamation is the key to reaching those donors. As soon as that proclamation is secured, outside donors will indicate interest and tell us what they can do for us.”
The NPC boss who said the census which “will cost about N200 billion,” added that funding “will not only come from Nigeria.”

Duruiheoma, accompanied by the NPC Director General, Dr. Ghaji Bello, stated that the EAD exercise would commence on February 20 and end on March 10, 2017.
“As you are aware, population census is the enumeration of all persons resident in a country or a well-defined geographic unit at a particular time.

“In order to effectively enumerate all these persons within a reasonable period, it becomes imperative to divide the whole land mass of the country into small units that can be easily covered by a team of enumerators during census enumeration.
“The EAD constitutes the foundation on which the entire census architecture stands. It forms the basis for the planning and execution of the census project.

“At the end of the EAD Phase 3, the commission would have successfully demarcated 74 local government areas and the remaining 700 local government areas will be covered under the subsequent phases of the EAD.

“To us at the commission, the significance of the EAD exercise goes beyond the conduct of the 2018 Census as we plan to establish and maintain a national frame with the mandate of the commission under Section 24 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution,” Duruiheoma stressed.

The chairman maintained that “Personal Digital Assistance (PDA) will be used in capturing spatial data and estimate EAs during demarcation. This scientific approach to demarcation will eliminate human elements as the process is capable of detecting human errors and preventing manipulations.

“For the avoidance of doubt, permit me to state clearly that the EAD exercise is not the enumeration of persons living in the country and its outcomes will not in any way determine the population of any community, local government or state.

“Considering the fact that the 2018 Census will be biometric based and will seek to capture the facial impression and finger prints of persons during the census period, any hope of gaining advantage through manipulation of EAD will at best be an illusion that cannot be realized as only persons physically seen will be counted and their biometrics taken.
“However, the commission will want to make a passionate appeal for these stakeholders to refrain from undue intervention in the EAD project,” he added.