The United States Government on Tuesday in Abuja ruled out any financial assistance for Nigeria to conduct its nationwide census whose preparation had been dogged by shortage of funds.
Although the population census had been shifted to 2017, feelers from the National Population Commission, indicated that it may not hold because President Muhammadu Buhari had yet to make a proclamation on it.
The American government specifically told Nigeria that it would not fund the exercise because “it is not somebody else’s census, it is your census.”
The Office Director, Health Population and Nutrition Office, United States Agency for International Development, Dr. Nancy Lowenthal, ruled out financial assistance in an interview with The PUNCH, during the opening ceremony of a training workshop for the members of staff of the NPC on the 2017 population and housing census organised by the United States Census Bureau with support from USAID.
She said, “It is important to stress that the United States government does not fund the census of another country. But what Nigerian government can do is to collaborate with USAID, the USCB and other US agencies that can help to provide a strong technical assistance to develop the best possible, credible and accurate census.
“It is very important for the Nigerian government at all levels to recognise what a census does. It is a demographic information about your country: how many men, how many women, and how many children are in Nigeria. There are also information about household income and other aspects of demography in a census. Without a credible census in every single community, you cannot have a data. This is fundamental to governing your country. It is, therefore, fundamental to government to find the resources to finance its census.
“It is important for any government to be able to fund its census because without it, you will not be able to do other components. It is not apportioning the Federal Government with funding, this is real planning; the commissioners should know the type of vaccine coverage and how many children are out there. It is not somebody else’s census but the census of the government of Nigeria as represented by Mr. President through the chairman of the NPC down thorough all the structures in the federal, states, local governments and rural levels and it is your census.”
The Chairman of the NPC, Chief Eze DuruIheoma (SAN), had last year, during a press briefing in commemoration of the 2015 World Population Day with the theme, “Vulnerable population in emergencies,” hinted that the population census earlier scheduled for this year would not take place due to poor budgetary allocation.
Although the exercise had, however, been scheduled for 2017, DuruIheoma,when asked about the actual date for the 2017 census said, “The President has not made any proclamation and, as such, nobody can tell the date and time for the census.”
Justifying the reasons why the 2016 census would not hold, the NPC chairman had told journalists that if, indeed, Nigerians wanted the 2016 national census, they must demand it just like they did during the recently concluded general election.