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Pressure mounts on Buhari to suspend Census exercise



Court refuses to grant request to stop 2023 census


The failure of the Federal Government to allay the fears of doubtful stakeholders, as well as its inability to resolve funding and other operational challenges may scuttle the 2023 Population and Housing Census exercise, Business Hallmark can report.

From May 3rd to 5th, the National Population Commission (NPC), will be capturing all Nigerians, foreign residents, household and structure for national planning and project execution purposes. The exercise is coming 17 years after the last controversial and  disputed enumeration, which was conducted in 2006.

Meanwhile, as the countdown winds down, the enumeration exercise is in real jeopardy of not holding as scheduled, as it faces threats from different directions more than any other before it.

BH findings revealed that several issues are threatening the conduct of the exercise. One of the major factors threatening the exercise is the unavailability of the much needed funds to execute it.

According to the Federal Government, the NPC will need about N900 billion to enable it  conduct a successful census.

“The total requirement for the census (including post census activities) is N869 billion”, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, had disclosed during a high level partners’ engagement on the 2023 census in March.

According to BH analysis, while the census  proper will gulp N626 billion, post-census activities that will last till 2025 will require additional N243billion.

However, out of the funds budgeted for the census exercise, about N300 billion had so far been released by the Federal Government and its partners as at April 15, several sources in and outside government confided in our correspondent.

According to the sources, while the sum of N291.5 billion was released to the NPC in tranches between June 2022 and January 2023, another N2.8billion for the procurement of the software to be used was released in early April, totalling N294.3 billion, with the outstanding N325billion yet to be released.

Expectedly, the releases, described by development experts as ‘a drop in the ocean’, have continued to hobble the census commission’s determination to conduct a credible and reliable census.

On Tuesday, April 18, ad hoc staff hired by the National Population Commission to provide support for the census exercise protested the non-payment of their training allowances.

While the protest was largely subdued across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), that of Bauchi attracted national attention as the aggrieved protesters took to the streets in the full glare of international media to demand the payment of their  allowances.

The almost 500 ad hoc workers, who disclosed that they were recruited by the census commission as special work force and facilitators for the 2023 census exercise in January and participated in a training held at Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, were all armed with placards to express their grievances.

The protest was carried out on Wunti Street with the ad hoc workers carrying placards with inscriptions, such as “No pay, no work” and “We demand our allowances from NPC”, among several others.

According to the workers, while they participated in the training exercise at the two centres between January 23 to February 5, 2023, the commission has refused to pay them their allowances.


“On behalf of the Ad-hoc NPC 2023 Census staff, who participated as special work force and facilitators for the upcoming 2023 census exercise, we are here (NPC Bauchi office) to inform the commission that we, in the attached list, have not received our training allowances, which were conducted at Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, from January 23 to February for Special work force and facilitators respectively.

“We have done our job but yet to receive our due allowances, said the spokesman of the group, Abbas Adamu, while addressing the state director of the NPC, Mr. Hudu Baballe.

Responding, Baballe absolved the Bauchi NPC chapter of blame, saying the delay in their payments was from the national headquarters in Abuja.

“I have listened to all your grievances and complaints and they are all noted.

“I have gotten the letter, which would be forwarded to the Commissioner and the National Headquarters in Abuja”, Baballe assured.

The Bauchi protest, though turned out to be a public spectacle, is not peculiar to the state.

BH reliably gathered that all ad hoc workers, who went through the rigorous training exercises in the 36 states and the FCT in late January and early centres from January and early February have not being paid.

Some affected workers, who spoke to our correspondent in Lagos, also confirmed that they were still being owed.

“It is unfortunate that after spending our resources on transport, feeding and logistics, the government has refused to pay us our little stipends several weeks after the training.

“Some of us borrowed money from friends, relatives and neighbours to be able to participate in the training with the hope that the loan will be repaid after the training.

“My own is even better as I took the loan from a cousin, who fully understands the situation. Some unlucky ones, who got loans from non relatives are being harassed daily to repay their loans”, said Eniola Obembe, employed as an enumerator in Lagos.

Our correspondent reliably gathered that the funding challenge is very dire as less than 10% of the over 885, 000 ad hoc workers recruited for the census have been trained.

Information available to BH confirmed that the training was limited to only quality data managers and a few technical officers, with the bulk of ad hoc workers left out.

The Director, Census Department at NPC, Mrs Evelyn Arinola Olanipekun, had in March, informed BH that the sum of N76.8 billion was earmarked for the training of workers.

Giving breakdown of the figures, Olanipekun said each trainee will receive N12,410 per day, and that on average, the total allowances for specialised workforce, facilitators, enumerators, supervisors, and other census functionaries range from N50,000 to N100,000.

She added that the main salary for each census functionary ranges from N50,000 to N250,000, depending on the position.


Based on a document  obtained from NPC, while facilitators are going to get N150,000 to N300,000 total package (salary and allowances); field coordinator will get N140,000 to N280,000; quality assurance assistants/rovers – N130,000 to N280,000; supervisor – N130,000 to N230,000; enumerator – N100,000 to N220,000 and lastly, monitoring and evaluation officer – N150,000 to N300,000.

Meanwhile, funding for the ad hoc workers wages, which is expected to be funded from the balance of N327.2 billion being expected from foreign technical partners are not forthcoming.

“We (FG) have done our own part by releasing our share of the counterpart funding for the census which is N291.5 billion.

“Our technical partners are the ones to provide the remaining N327.2billion required to complete the exercise.

“Unfortunately, they are foot-dragging after making firm commitments due to reasons only known to them”, lamented a director in the ministry of finance who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

While the ad hoc workers already trained are yet to receive their allowances, the bulk of about 800,000 yet to be trained are not sure when their own trainings will take place, with the postponement of their own module despite having less than two weeks left to the exercise.

It would be recalled that the Chairman of the Census Committee, Ipalibo Harry, had on April 12, announced the indefinite postponement of training for the census enumerators and supervisors.

The enumerators and supervisors’ training was initially slated for Thursday, April 13 before the postponement.

But Ipalibo, while assuring that the NPC was ready to conduct a credible census, said a new date would be communicated as soon as possible.

Apart from the botched training of workers already recruited to carry out the exercise, other logistical challenges are threatening the take-off of the census.

For instance, the NPC is yet to acquire the additional 405,000 local content tablets and accessories needed to complement the old ones already on ground. The sum of N60.75billion had been budgeted for the new tablets.

Apart from this, the  numbering/listing of buildings and households in the country for 35 days at the cost of N76.8billion is yet to be done.

To compound the census commission and it’s backers headaches, funds for data analysis, dissemination, production of monographs, thematic maps, population atlas for dissemination in all states and the 774 local government areas to the tune of N53.1billion, as well as funds for internet connectivity for data transmission by census functionaries put at N2.7billion are still being awaited.

Sources in the know told BH that government had planned to deploy the N327.2billion pledged by its foreign technical partners to offset the costs of these projects.

The amount, it was learnt, is outside the N243billion also promised by partners to conduct post enumeration survey in sampled EAS to match household data generated  during the enumeration proper.

However, the development partners, it was learnt, are not favourably disposed to the idea of the outgoing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari conducting the exercise.


According to sources, ‘developmental partners’ like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United States Agency for International Development (USAID);  British Council; International Monetary Fund (IMF); the European Union (EU) and others are deliberately stalling the release of their own portion of the funds, hoping to torpedo the scheduled census exercise.

“Our partners, particularly the Europeans and Americans, are not comfortable with the Buhari administration conducting the census exercise.

“The believe in many quarters is that the exercise had already being programmed and its outcome predetermined to favour a section of the country.

“So, the partners are not willing to be part of the charade. I know for sure that they have been putting pressure on the government to push the exercise to the next administration, but the government is insisting on forging ahead with it.

“Though we cannot say for sure, some of us believe that their (partners) decision to hold on to funds and materials earlier promised is their own way of stalling the exercise”, a commissioner in the NPC from one of the South West states confided in our correspondent.

A diplomatic source also confided in BH that the shoddy conduct of both the February 25 Presidential/National Assembly and March 18 Governorship/House of Assembly polls largely confirmed the fears of the foreign partners that the incumbent president could not trusted with the census exercise.

Resistance against the planned enumeration is also growing daily locally, especially from stakeholders in the middle belt and southern part of the country who are  hellbent at sabotaging it from holding as scheduled.

Their fears, BH learnt, is borne out of the outcome of past census exercises, which they claimed were rigged in favour of the North.

One of the critics of the planned enumeration, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, last week called on the government to suspend the exercise.

“I want to say that the Federal Government should suspend the issue of census because it looks like the proposed census is coming with an agenda.

“There is so much injustice, bias and tribalism going on in the country that both leaders and citizens must correct before the country can move forward”, he said.

Also, Bashorun Tunji Ogunmola, a chieftain of Igbimo Omo Yoruba, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, alleged that all the census figures in the past were done to favour of the North.

“Where else in the world do you have population in the savannah, arid or sahel regions surpass that of rain forests and coastal areas.

“Yes, towns and cities like Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Zaria are hugely populated like their counterparts in the South, but that is where it stops.

“Remove these large cities and towns, the North is largely inhabitable. In fact, most states in the North are one or two city states after removing the state capitals.

“So, where are the people coming from? Is it from outer space? I don’t think we are going to get a realistic figure until a southern government gets into power to oversee the exercise.


“We have reached out to our political leaders to ensure that this current government does not conduct the exercise”, said Bashorun Ogunmola.

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