By failing to plan, one plans to fail. Until we get it right, we will not get the right output and result. Again, we cannot be doing the same thing over and again and expect to get a different result. To make good progress in life, there is always the need and willingness to change positively and advance technologically – and this comes with planning which census, a comprehensive census, can provide.
That abuse is inevitable where value is not known should be enough reason for us to seek to know and understand the import of an elaborate census exercise in Nigeria, and then go out to participate in it.
A holistic census, devoid of manipulation, is a very useful tool for good nation planning. To this end, all hands must be on deck, doing everything possible to ensure that the 2018 Nigeria census will be comprehensive, elaborate and all encompassing. Among other things, we will need to capture, within the limits of statistical error, the true demographic, geographic and psychographic data of Nigerians.
Census is the complete enumeration of a population or groups at a point in time with respect to well defined characteristics: for example, population, production, traffic on particular roads. Census is an official count or survey of a population, typically recording various details of individuals.
A population census can be defined as the total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing and publishing or otherwise disseminating demographic, geographic, psychographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specified time, to all persons in a country or in a well delimited part of a country. In other words, it is the official counting of a region’s or nation’s people at a particular time, which tells about their number, their age, where they live, their level of education, whether or not they attend school, work and other such characteristics so to be effective, it must be conducted at the same time (simultaneously) throughout the country.
To get accurate and complete information, a system and a method that will capture all the vital data by qualified and competent personnel should be used. And the exercise must be transparent.
Looking at the peculiarities of Nigeria especially the multiple and diverse ethnic groups, religious and regional differences, the 2018 census demographic data will capture among other things age and gender (sex) while the geographic data will provide information on the state of origin, tribe and state of residence. Some psychographic data will include personality values and interests (religion), opinions, attitudes, and lifestyles. Other vital information that should be captured will include marital status, educational background, occupation, employment/unemployment status and housing information etc.
A complete enumeration system should be deployed in the next year’s census exercise. It simply means that an ordered listing of all the data is very necessary. This becomes imperative as past census exercises were marred with irregularities with figures manipulated for political and economic gains.
One of the benefits of an elaborate national census is that it provides good information for national planning and evaluation of taxation. “Good national planning is based on reliable, up-to-date, accurate and detailed information on the state of the society in the country. This information makes it possible to plan better services, improve the quality of life and solve existing problems. According to UNFPA, “The information generated by a population and housing census – numbers of people, their distribution, their living conditions and other key data – is critical for development.” This is because this type of data is essential for policymakers so that they know where to invest.
Statistical information, which serves as the basis for constructing planning forecasts, is also essential for democratic process and the quest for good governance since it enables citizens to examine decisions made by their Government and local authorities, and decide whether they serve the public they are meant to serve or otherwise.
Other reasons for a good population census have been listed as follow:
“- Population Size: Population census helps the Government to know the number of people living in the country and the structure of the population.
– Revenue Estimates: It also helps in the determination of taxable adults so as to know the amount of revenue expected from that sector.
– Forecasts Future Economic Needs: It enables the country to forecast her future economic needs e.g. housing, food etc.
– Determines the Level of Unemployment: Population Census provides Government with statistics to determine the level of unemployment in the country.
– Number of Immigrants: The number of immigrants can be known through the statistics gotten from population census.
– Distribution of Resources: It can assist the government in the distribution of resources.
– Provision of Social Amenities: Population Census gives the Government an idea of the different population in various parts of the country and this will help it in the provision of social amenities like housing, water, electricity, roads, schools, and hospitals e.t.c.
– Determination of Population Density: Population Census helps the Government to know areas in the country where population per land area is low.
– Reveals Level of Manpower: It helps to reveal the total number of people who are working. When the level of manpower is high, the economic development of the country is assured.
– Giving of Aids: It assists the international agencies and Governments in giving aids and other assistance to countries.
– Investment Decisions: Population Census can influence a country’s investment decision making process. Many investors like to invest in Nigeria because of its high population.”
Since a census result is a major determinant factor in some national issues, people should be educated to take the 2018 exercise serious and actively participate in it. To this end, every public opinion molder or organization that is against census exercise in Nigeria, especially in Southeast, should be made to reconsider their stand as we need to know the true Nigeria population on national, regional and state bases.