President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, said the 2023 census data is needed to tackle the security challenges bedevilling the country.
The President said this while speaking at the national stakeholders’ summit on the 2023 Population and Housing Census held at the State House, Abuja.
He said the nation required a new data set to drive not only the implementation of the recently launched revised National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development and other government policies but also several poverty reduction and youth empowerment programmes.
Buhari said Nigeria’s population censuses had been conducted irregularly and at intervals, longer than the United Nations’ recommended 10-year period.
“This irregular and long interval of census taking in Nigeria, has denied the nation the huge benefits of comprehensive baseline data for evidence-based decision-making.
“Since our assumption of office in 2015, our administration has introduced several poverty reduction and youth empowerment programmes, which are making concrete improvements in the living standards of our people. There is a need to ensure that further implementation of these programmes will be driven by the 2023 Census data that will improve the implementation of programmes targeting vulnerable populations and ensuring as widespread coverage as possible,’’ he added in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
The President said deployment of digital technology in the 2023 National Population and Housing Census would ensure effectiveness and more accuracy in the figures.
He also said a “reliable, credible, acceptable and successful census’’ would help government in planning purpose for development, especially in bolstering the social security programme 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last 16 years has created an information vacuum as the data from the last census conducted in 2006 has been rendered out of date for planning purposes. It has therefore become imperative for the nation to conduct another national census to produce a new set of demographic and socio-economic 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 socio-economic characteristics is required for planning purposes. This, therefore, makes the conduct of census an essential governance activity.
“With a projected population of 216,783,381, Nigeria is the sixth most populous country in the world and the most populous country on the African continent. Due to the rapidly growing nature of the population and large proportion of the youthful population, Nigeria is also projected to be the third most populous country in the World by the year 2050 after India and China,’’ he said.
He added that knowing Nigeria’s population and using the data to plan for the people and future generations remain a collective duty owed the nation.
“We must all resolve that this duty is satisfactorily carried out in the firm belief that what has joined us together as a nation and our common destiny are far stronger than the negative forces that tend to drive us apart,’’ he also said.
Buhari called for support of stakeholders, including state governments, local government councils, traditional and religious institutions, civil society organisations, private sectors, media, development partners, donor agencies and the general populace for the successful conduct of the 2023 Census.