The National Population Commission (NPC) has estimated Nigeria’s current population at 206 million. The NPC Chairman, Nasir Kwarra Tuesday, disclosed during a press conference on the commencement of the next Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in Abuja that the figure is based on projections since the country has not conducted a national population census in the last fourteen years.
Kwarra added that the EAD exercise is a preparatory exercise before the census and not the enumeration of persons living in the country.
This is coming two years after the commission estimated the country’s population at 198 million. And Nigerians have expressed their reservations about the accuracy of the projected figures.
Inaccuracy in census data is a major challenge that needs to be tackled. As the NPC prepares for the next national population census, it must put measures in place to check the irregularities that marred past population census in the country.
Population census in Nigeria comes with several challenges that produce inaccurate and unacceptable results. The 2006 census and the ones before it, for instance, were fraught with controversies including the falsification of census data with over-bloated figures across states in the country for selfish reasons.
This is counter-productive to the socio-economic development of the country because when population census data is falsified; the actual number of the population and its demographic composition will remain unknown, and these are fundamental factors that aid effective developmental planning. The absence of effective developmental planning will, in turn, impact negatively on the welfare of the citizenry.
An accurate population census is not only helpful in determining the accurate population size; it also helps to forecast the developmental needs across the country for proper planning and execution and determines the size of the labour force as well as the number of people eligible to pay tax.
All of these helps the government to project revenue that can be generated from tax to finance government operations.
A government that cares about the welfare of its citizens and the socio-economic development of the country will do all in its power to conduct a fair and accurate population census for all it’s worth.
The importance of a fair and accurate population census cannot be overemphasized. The government must, therefore, strive to conduct a credible census for proper planning to ensure even development across the country.