Apart from Nigeria’s general elections already scheduled for next year, another major national activity will hold in the same year, as the National Council of State (NCS) has fixed a national population census for April 2023
The National Council of State, which has the constitutional role of advising the Federal Executive Council on policy matters, rose from its meeting in Abuja on Thursday and agreed on a date that is about a month after the 2023 general elections would have been completed.
The 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections are fixed for 25th February 2023, while the state elections (Governorship and House of Assembly) would be conducted on 11th March.
Nigeria’s last head count was held between 27th November and 2nd December 1991, with a Population and Housing Census – the first of its kind – conducted in 2006. Another one had long been overdue.
The NCS is presided over by the President. Other members include: Vice President, past Presidents/Heads of State, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and serving/past Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Others are: Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, state Governors and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory.
Among those in attendance were former President Goodluck Jonathan (2010 – 2015) and former military rulers, Generals Yakubu Gowon (1966 – 1973) and Abdusalami Abubakar (1998 to 1999).
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (1976 – 1979; and 1999 – 2007) and former military President Ibrahim Babangida (1985 – 1993) were not present.
The Director-General of National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Isa-Kwarra told State House correspondents after a meeting of the NCS, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, that NPC would conduct a pilot census from June, this year after political parties must have concluded their pre-general elections activities.
Isa-Kwarra said that the commission would deploy high technology for the exercise.
He noted that the data currently being used by Nigeria are mere projections and obsolete.
He explained: ‘It is very crucial because I have highlighted that the census is a very important exercise for the nation. Through census, we generate the data that we use for policy making, for planning, for development, by the three tiers of government, and the private sector, they all need this.
‘If you are in the private sector, you’re producing something. Certainly, you need to know the population of an area if you want to create a market there’.
Last month at the opening ceremony of a workshop on “Census Management Training” for the Chairman and Federal Commissioners of the NPC, which was organised by the commission in Karu, Nasarawa State, Isa-Kwarra had said that the NPC would ensure that the results of the new census were acceptable to Nigerians and the quality of the data to be generated met international best standards for planning purposes.
At the end of Thursday’s Council of State meeting, Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru disclosed that President Buhari would meet security chiefs next Tuesday over worsening security situation in the country following recommendations and comments by the Council of State.
On his part, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami said the Council approved 159 out of 162 applications presented for consideration for prerogative of mercy.
Special Duties Minister, Senator George Akume said the Council approved the conferment of National Honours Award on 434 Nigerians who had distinguished themselves in the various field of endeavours.
This is the fourth time President Buhari would preside over the Council of State meeting with the first held on 21st October 2015, the second on 7th September 2016 and the third virtually in August 2020.