Afenifere, a prominent socio-political organization representing the Yoruba ethnic group, has urged the Federal Government to halt plans to carry out the National Housing and Population Census in Nigeria.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that in a communique issued after its monthly meeting held in Ogun State, the group expressed its displeasure with the timing of the census, which is scheduled to begin on May 3, and claimed it would be difficult to implement it credibly.
The group further stated that conducting the census in the same year as the general election had raised concerns among some stakeholders, but the government had proceeded with the plan regardless.
The organization also criticized the government’s allocation of N100 billion for the exercise, labeling it a “scandalous and economic offence.”
The statement reads in part, “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.
“That all factors considered, including its inability to supervise a transparent electoral process, and a lesser headcount exercise, the integrity deficiency of this administration are abysmally compounded in conducting census in which partisan disputes in Nigeria are often at the level of communities, states and ethnic nationalities having been politicised over time.
“Afenifere decries the most insensitive deployment of over 100 billion Naira on this wasteful exercise as scandalous and an economic offence. Afenifere conclusively says there is no compelling reason why the census must be held by the expiring Buhari administration and calls for all steps and preparations in that regards to be stopped forthwith.”
The communique was made available by the Secretary General of the group, Chief Sola Ebiseni, on Thursday.
The Acting Leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, hosted the meeting at his residence in Isanya Ogbo.