Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday called for the deployment of digital technology in the 2023 national population and housing census to ensure effectiveness and more accuracy in the figures.
Buhari, while speaking at the national stakeholders’ summit on the 2023 Population and Housing Census in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, said a “reliable, credible, acceptable and successful census” will help the government in planning purposes for development, especially in bolstering the social security program that targets more vulnerable Nigerians.
“The country’s inability to conduct a population census in the last 16 years has created an information vacuum as the data from the last census conducted in 2006 has been rendered out of date for planning purposes,” he said, noting Nigeria could rank the third largest in the world by 2050.
According to the Nigerian leader, the conduct of a census is an essential governance activity. He said it has become imperative for the nation to conduct another national census to produce a new set of demographic and socioeconomic data that will provide the basis for national planning and sustainable development.
“Population is a critical factor in a nation’s efforts toward achieving sustainable development. People are both the agents and beneficiaries of the development process. Knowledge of the national population in terms of size, distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics is required for planning purposes,” Buhari said.
Despite Nigeria’s high-ranking position on the global demographic map, the president said its population censuses had been conducted irregularly and at intervals, longer than the United Nations recommended 10 years.
Buhari said the irregular and long interval of census taking in Nigeria had denied the nation the huge benefits of comprehensive baseline data for evidence-based decision-making.
Since taking office seven years ago, Buhari said his administration had introduced various poverty reduction and youth empowerment programs, which are making concrete improvements in the living standards of the citizens.
The Nigerian president said the west African nation required a new data set to drive the implementation of the recently launched revised National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development and other government policies.
“The 2023 census data is also needed to tackle the security challenges bedeviling the country, as it will give an overview of the population, where we are, and who we are,” he added.
According to reports by local media, the National Population Commission has said in April the new population and housing census in the country will be held in April 2023. Enditem