The National Population Commission has said the next census will cost well over N220bn.
The Director-General of the NPoPC, Dr. Ghaji Ismail, said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the commencement of fieldwork for the continuation of the Enumeration Area Demarcation.
He said the 2015 budget for the proposed 2016 census which eventually did not take place was put at N220bn.
Ismail said with currency devaluation and inflation rates, the commission would require much more than N220bn to conduct a census.
The DG said, “How much will it cost? At this point in time it is going to be very difficult because there have been changes. It is not something you can say off hand but if we deduce from our previous submission in 2015 hoping that it would take place in 2016, a lot has changed in terms of currency devaluation but if we are to use the 2015 submission, we are looking at a submission of over N220bn.”
Ismail said although the 2019 budget proposal had no provision for a census, a separate budget could be submitted for the exercise.
The DG said it was time to begin to speak about it since elections were already coming to an end.
He, therefore, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to take the matter into consideration.
Ismail added, “Normally, it (census budget) is done within the wide service vote which is directly under the Presidency and therefore, when the proclamation is made by Mr. President. We are very hopeful because we have briefed him and we are very hopeful that this time around, having put the elections behind us, Mr. President would look at the commission favourably so that we can undertake the net census because, without the consensus, there will be no planning.
“We are proud to say Mr President is doing very well in the area of infrastructure in the last three to four years and we are convinced that he will continue to do so but better still, from our perspective, the infrastructure should be provided based on the basis that we know where we are, who we are, where we are mostly located and our various population dynamics.”
Ismail said the time had come for a law to be introduced which will give the NPoPC the mandate to hold census at regular intervals just as the Independent National Electoral Commission undertakes elections every four years.
He said a bill had been submitted to the National Assembly to that effect which had passed the first reading but things slowed down because of the electioneering.
The DG added, “We are conscious of the fact that the absence of a legislation has actually not done us any good because the absence of legislation leaves the decision to conduct census at the liberty or the vagaries of nature which means it is left to time and chance.
“We are working hard. In fact, we have conducted two rounds of in-house review for a legal instrument to see that we push it forward. As we speak, we have proposed an amendment of the Act which is before the National Assembly. If I am not mistaken, it has gone through the first reading but elections came up.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the commission, Hassan Bashir, announced the commencement of the Enumeration Area Demarcation.
Bashir explained that the EAD which holds from March 21 to April 13 across 23 states will constitute the architecture for the census exercise.