Discontinue All Plans To Conduct Census – Afenifere Tells FG

Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere has called on the Federal Government to discontinue all the plans and arrangements to conduct the forthcoming National Housing and Population Census in Nigeria.

This was contained in a communique at the end of its monthly meeting held at the residence of Afenifere’s Acting Leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo in Isanya Ogbo, Ogun State.

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The communique was made available in Akure, Ondo State by the Secretary General of the group, Chief Sola Ebiseni on Thursday.

According to the association, some stakeholders have raised concerns over conducting the census in the same year of the general election but the government insisted in conduct the census.

The group also condemned the N100 billion on the exercise, describing it as a “scandalous and economic offence.”

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.

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 group also called on the judiciary to ensure that all petitions in respect of the just concluded presidential election be timeously and justly resolved before the end of the tenure of the “Buhari administration as the only way the confidence of Nigerians in its intervention may be earned.

“Precedents in this regard have been laid even by less endowed countries in Africa,” it noted.