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The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has raised concerns about conducting the National Housing and Population Census in Nigeria in the same year as the general election.
Afenifere equally condemned the N100 billion allocated to the exercise, calling it a ‘scandalous and economic offense’.
The group described the exercise as inauspicious in timing and impossible to implement credibly.
In a communique at the end of its monthly meeting held in Ogun State, the group called on the Federal Government to halt all plans and arrangements to conduct the National Housing and Population Census in Nigeria.
Afenifere recalled that it presented a paper at the National Consultative Forum on the 2023 Census held in Abuja in August 2022, stressing the importance of a credible census in national development.
However, the group advised against conducting the census in the same year as a general election, citing the impossibility of holding a credible exercise under such circumstances.
The group said, “Afenifere recalls that in a paper it presented at the National Consultative Forum on the 2023 Census held at the Banquet Hall, State House Abuja on August 11, 2022, it reiterated the imperative of census in national development noting that the application and misuse of Census data had been our bane as a country where we lie to ourselves and the world about our number indulging in laughable projections sometimes based on assumed and fixed percentage of population growth across different parts notwithstanding glaring variables.
“It is in the light of the importance of credible exercise that, in the August 2022 Conference, we strongly advised against the conduct of the Census which, among other reasons, we said could not possibly hold in the same year of a General election.
“Other well-meaning personalities and institutions including the UNFPA Resident Representative in Nigeria who was at another Conference in Port Harcourt on March 26-29 2023 and most recently the Methodist Church Nigeria, Diocese of Calabar all have raised concerns on the possibility of reasonable and genuine participation in an acceptable headcount in the current mood of the nation.
“Afenifere is particularly bemused that Government expects participation in headcount by citizens still incensed and distraught by the trauma of violence and brigandage of the elections or by those in IDP camps within their country in whose ancestral homes terrorists in occupation will now be counted as new indigenes
The group noted that other personalities and institutions, including the UNFPA Resident Representative in Nigeria and the Methodist Church Nigeria, Diocese of Calabar, had also raised concerns about the possibility of conducting a reasonable and genuine headcount under the current mood of the nation.
Afenifere further stated that the deployment of over N100 billion on the exercise was scandalous and an economic offense, particularly given the country’s current challenges.
The group called on the government to discontinue all steps and preparations for the census forthwith, citing the administration’s inability to supervise a transparent electoral process and the partisan disputes that often accompany census exercises in Nigeria.
“Afenifere decries the most insensitive deployment of over 100 billion Naira on this wasteful exercise as scandalous and an economic offense. Afenifere conclusively says there is no compelling reason why the census must be held on oby the expiring Buhari administration and calls for all steps and preparations in that regard to be stopped forthwith.”
Afenifere also charged the judiciary to ensure that all petitions regarding the just-concluded presidential election are resolved justly and timeously before the end of the Buhari administration’s tenure to restore Nigerians’ confidence in its intervention.
“Precedents in this regard have been laid even by less endowed countries in Africa,” The group stated
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