2018 Census Will Not Be Manipulated, Says Population Commission

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By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

The National Population Commission (NPC) says it has devised strategies that would help in eliminating all forms of manipulations in the 2018 Population Census even as it appealed to the federal government to ensure that all the necessary funds meant for the exercise were released in good time.

The Commission said since the 2018 census would be biometric based and would seek to capture the facial impression and finger-prints of persons during the exercise, any hope of gaining advantage through manipulation of the area demarcation would be an illusion as only persons physically seen would be counted and biometrics taken.

Briefing newsmen at the commission’s headquarters in Enugu as part of activities for the flag-off of field work for the third phase of the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in Aninri local government area preparatory for next year’s census, the NPC Federal Commissioner in the state, Dr. Festus Uzor said the commission had already come up with a scientific approach which would eliminate human errors during the census.

While noting that the EAD exercise was one of the core preparatory activities for the main census exercise, Uzor said the EAD constituted the foundation on which the entire census architecture stood, adding “it forms the basis for the planning and execution of the census project”.

Explaining further, the NPC commissioner “in the pre-census period, the total number of EAs and its distribution are required for census planning, particularly the deployment of personnel,  logistics and materials for the pre-test, trial census, the main census and the post enumeration survey. 

Also, in the post census period, the products of EAD are required for effective dissemination of the census data. The EAD is therefore the vehicle that drives the entire census process in the pre-census, actual enumeration and post census period”.

He said it was in recognition of the importance of EADs that the commission had adopted a meticulous and gradual approach to the 2018 census by introducing a demarcation process that allowed for practical experimentation of the methodology and necessary adjustment in implementation and flexibility. 

He said the significance of the demarcation exercise as far as the commission was concerned, should go beyond the conduct of the 2018 census “as we plan to establish and maintain a national frame including locality list and house numbering for future censuses and surveys”, adding that they hoped to be only required to update figures in future censuses. 

“It is in this regard that we are deploying sophisticated technology in carrying out the EAD. The methodology for the census is designed to achieve full Geographic Information System compliance. High resolution satellite imagery will be used to ensure that no area is left undemarcated or no place is duplicated. This process will not allow imaginary Enumeration Areas and any attempt to include non-existent households and buildings in EAs will be detected through satellite imagery. 

“Personal Digital Assistance (PDA) will be used in capturing spatial data and estimate EAs during demarcation. This will eliminate human elements as the process is capable of detecting human errors and preventing manipulations. The EAD will be professionally undertaken in order to avoid overlapping EAs, oversized EAs, under sized EAs and non-existent EAs,” he said. 

He disclosed that the commission had carried out the second phase of the EAD in Enugu South last year, and would carry out the exercise in the remaining 15 councils in the state before the commencement of the actual census by the first quarter of next year barring funds’ availability.