THE Nigerian government has announced plans to conduct a national population and housing census in 2022.
The last population and housing census in Nigeria, which took place in 2006, put the country’s population at 140 million but currently, Nigeria’s actual population is uncertain, some analysts argue.
Nigerian authorities have been relying on estimates from Worldometer, an arm of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to guage the country’s population.
At the moment, Nigeria’s population is estimated as 206 million people, according to details released by the National Population Commission (NPC) in 2020.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, at the public presentation and breakdown of the 2022 Appropriation Bill in Abuja on October 9, announced that the sum of N178.09 billion had been budgeted for the population census exercise.
The 2022 Appropriation Bill was submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 7.
Ahmed further disclosed that Buhari would soon make a proclamation for the 2022 national population and housing census.
* Controversial 2006 census was rejected by the South, endorsed by North
The 2006 national population census was mired in controversy with the outcome dividing the country along regional lines.
The southern part of the country rejected the provisional results of the 2006 census which placed Kano in the North as Nigeria’s most populous state with a population of 9.4 million.
The census placed Lagos State in the South as the second most populous state with 9.0 million people.
Overall, the 2006 census stated that the North had a higher population than the South.
According to the census results, the northern states account for 75 million people, while the southern states have 65 million population.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural body of the Igbos in the South-East, was among several southern groups to reject the results which they claimed was doctored and manipulated in favour of the North.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo equally alleged that the census results were rigged to portray the Igbos as a minority ethnic nationality.
The then governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu, who was at the vanguard of the opposition to 2006 national census results, demanded a recount.
Tinubu insisted that Lagos State was more populous than Kano and declared that the result of the census was false.
According to Tinubu, a parallel census conducted by the Lagos State government in collaboration with the National Population Commission put the state’s population at more than 17.5 million people, much higher than the 9.0 million declared in the official result of the 2006 national population census.
But the North endorsed the results, which cemented the region’s reputation as the most populous part of the country.
Then Chairman of the National Population Commission Sa-mu’ila Danko Makama waved away the objections raised by the South, arguing that the commission would not just allocate figures.
In apparent reference to Lagos, Makama warned that any state that published parallel census figures had breached the Nigerian constitution as the NPC was the only body mandated by law to conduct the national population census.
Olusegun Obasanjo, then Nigerian president, had the final word on the controversy by bluntly telling Nigerians to do anything they liked with the census results.
“If you like, use it (census results). If you don’t like, leave it,” Obasanjo said.