Some mathematicians and key educationists have called on governments at all levels to embrace the culture of evidence-based planning for national development.
They observed that any government planning without statistics would fail to deliver on its promises for the improvement of the welfare of the citizenry.
The Statistician General of the Federation, Yemi Kale, said government needs good statistics because they are part of enabling environment for development and census is of great value and population data are sine qua non for sustainable development.
Kale, who spoke in Lagos at the annual Mathematics Conference and Exhibition 2020 organised by the Mathematics for Life Foundation recently, said population census exercises have had a history of enormous challenges in Nigeria which affects the credibility and usefulness of census data for informed decision making process
In his presentation on the theme of the conference, ‘The Mathematics of Census (Population, Planning and National Development)’ he said census should be seen as a planning instrument rather than political weapon and be made a priority in Nigeria in its quest for socio-economic transformation and development.
“A nation without accurate information about the population of its country would always be wobbling in confusion with attendant effects of serious underdevelopment and abject poverty.
“African countries are still underdeveloped because of failure to put in place effective system of vital statistics production,” Kale said.
The President of the Mathematics for Life Foundation, Omoniyi Osuntuyi, said the theme was reflecting on happenings in Nigeria today in terms of population, planning and development.
Osuntuyi said the foundation’s mission is to educate every African, using mathematics as an innovative and unique tool in improving the quality of education at all levels.
According to him, the United Nations said census population should be done every 10 years in all countries.
“We discovered that Nigeria has not counted its people for 14 years now which can really affect our plan for the future.
“Government needs to update the population statistics in every area so that the country can plan and develop for the future.
“Our foundation is doing great in terms of improving Nigerian students academics, recently one of our students got the best WAEC and JAMB result in Nigeria.
“We also developed teachers and give them basic information on how to teach mathematics so that students can be encouraged in learning mathematics in the simplest form,” he said.
On her part, the President, Nigeria Women in Mathematics, Prof. Olabisi Ugbebor quoted the United Nations as saying that national population census is the total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing, publishing and disseminating demographic and economic status.
She said census is not limited to taking the number of people alone, but also various matters such as agriculture, business firms, housing, among others.
“Now because of the link between families and housing units, population census and housing are usually combined.
“If Nigeria is determined to leapfrog her rivals into a leading position, she must do something about the quantum leap in population levels.
“That is aggravated by the teenage marriages being allowed by fathers who are so eager to deflower other people’s young girls, that they have no qualms about other men doing the same to their little girls,” she said.