Why Census Matters to Nigeria

July 16, 2022

On July 13th, 2022, Nigeria’s National Population Commission (NPC) kicked off a trial phase for a census, an official survey of the population of the country. 

Buhari has approved census for Nigeria

Buhari is designated number one on the list

The dress rehearsal is one of the major preliminary activities to determine the NPC’s readiness for the main population and housing census in 2023.

It represents a major step in Nigeria’s bid to conduct a census after postponements every year since 2016. The point of a census is pretty straightforward — it provides vital information about the inhabitants of an area. But its execution in Nigeria hasn’t always been as straightforward.

Nigeria has had past problems with census

History of census in Nigeria

The first population census in Nigeria’s recorded history happened in 1866 but was restricted to the Lagos Colony and its environs under colonial rule. The headcount started to hold every 10 years after the 1871 census was followed by others in 1881, 1891 and 1901. 

The census conducted in 1911 extended to other parts of the Southern Protectorate, and the next one in 1921 extended to the Northern Protectorate, after the 1914 amalgamation of both regions.

Another census took place in 1931, before Nigeria conducted its first comprehensive nationwide census in 1952 – 1953. The latter determined the political distribution of seats in Nigeria’s post-independence parliament. 

When the first post-independence census was conducted in 1962, it was cancelled over allegations of fraud and political interference. The government conducted another census in 1963 and ended up with 55.7 million residents on paper. The tally was contested all the way to the Supreme Court which upheld its validity. 

The 1973 census pegged Nigeria’s population at 79.8 million but the government never officially accepted the result. Critics said the numbers were falsified for political and ethnic advantages.

The 1991 census is regarded as one of Nigeria’s most unproblematic, alongside the 2006 census that pegged Nigeria’s population at 140.4 million. But they didn’t escape allegations of manipulation. 

There’s always someone like this after every Nigerian census

Nigeria’s attempt to conduct a census since another ten-year period elapsed in 2016 has hit several roadblocks, until now.

ALSO READ: How to Become a Gun Owner in Nigeria

Why conduct a census?

Nigeria needs a census

A census isn’t that much different from tracking what’s in your bank account. Why do countries place so much importance on it?

It provides a rich source of information

The most useful advantage of a census is it provides the government with the most appropriate data than any other survey. A census isn’t just a head count. It’s a process primed to extract reliable, representative and accurate information.

It helps with planning for development

Census helps with development goals

The detailed demographic and socioeconomic information that a census provides can have a significant impact on the lives of citizens as it determines many variables. Census data can be used to plan and deliver services more efficiently for social, economic and infrastructural development. For example, if a census shows a pattern of more aged people in an area, it can help determine what specific resources to funnel there.

It determines political representation

Census helps with political representation

The result of a census is also crucial to determining political representation. The 1999 constitution (as amended) allows periodic reviews of the division of states into senatorial districts and federal constituencies based on census data. This means the result of a census can determine how many representatives a state can send to the Federal House of Representatives based on distribution.

It helps with making business decisions

Census helps the private sector

The result of a census is also valuable to businesses that need data on the communities they serve. The decision to start a new business, open a new branch of an existing business or what new products to offer can be made more efficient with census data.

Why Nigeria has troubles with census

Conducting a population census is a very expensive and labour-intensive process. This is one of the major reasons why Nigeria hasn’t been able to conduct a new one since 2016. Senators weren’t too happy in 2021 when the NPC budgeted over N400 billion for the process. The Federal Government eventually settled on N177 billion for the 2022 project. 

But more than cost, the most common issue with census in Nigeria is the corruption of numbers. The falsification of figures is usually with the intention to skew resource allocation for regional gains. But the digitisation of the ongoing process should help eliminate political interference and manipulation as much as possible.

Without accurate data, it’s impossible for Nigeria to make the most efficient plans for its development. It’s important that we get it right this time around.

ALSO READ: How Nigeria Plans to Recapture Escaped Prison Inmates

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

November 22, 2019

This is Zikoko’s Game of Votes Weekly Dispatch. We share the most important things that happen in Nigeria every week. 5pm Thursdays. Stay woke.  Beggi Beggi, E No Good O     Who knew Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State, was so influential? He definitely yields some kind of power over the who’s who in Nigerian politics if a whole Madame […]

October 28, 2019

Election petition season, rice showers and dodgy records. View this email in your browser 4 – 3 – 2019 This is Zikoko’s Game of Votes Weekly Dispatch. We share the most important things leading up to the 2019 General Elections, and why they matter. 5pm. Every Monday. Stay woke.  IT’S 5 DAYS TO THE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS And […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

August 13, 2022

The subject of this week’s Sex Life is a 25-year-old queer woman who owns half a dozen sex toys and wants more. She talks about her sex toy curiosity, the trial and errors before she found the perfect ones and how she navigates sex with people. 

Recommended Quizzes

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

More from Citizen

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X