We Spent N200bn In Eight Years For Preparation; Acquired Boats, Solar Systems, Power Banks – NPC

The National Population Commission (NPC) says it spent N200 billion in preparation for the census in eight years.

Isiaka Yahaya, NPC’s Director of Public Affairs, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, said the insinuation that the sum was spent in the last few years was erroneous as the commission has been preparing for the census since 2014.

“Yes, it is true that N200bn has been spent on preparations for the 2023 Census so far. However, this fund was not expended in the last few weeks, months or years but rather since 2014 when preparations for the 2023 Census actually began.

“Indeed, part of the N200 billion was expended before the coming of the present commission, which was inaugurated twice between 2018 and 2020 and even before the inception of the Buhari Administration,” he said.

According to him, the huge sum was spent on different preparatory processes to ensure the exercise comes out with credible and acceptable data.

He stated chief among its spending was the demarcation of the country into enumeration areas for easy clustering and which has provided the country with data on the number of houses in the country.

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Nigeria’s census which should have been held since 2016 following the guidelines of the United Nations had been delayed due to various reasons since it was last held in 2006.

Yahaya also said that a series of workshops involving academia, professional bodies, Civil Society Organizations, and stakeholders were organized at the national and state levels between 2015 and 2017, as well as some test runs.

On the test runs, he said, “The first Pretest was conducted between 31st May 2021 and June 13th, 2021 in the thirty-six states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory while the second Pretest with larger coverage and broader objectives was conducted from November 24th to December 10th, 2021 also in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. These test runs cost huge amounts of money in terms of training, deployment of personnel, and procurement of equipment and software.”

He added that a trial census was done in July across the country with over 13,000 personnel trained, deployed, and paid allowances.

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The director also disclosed that several items have been procured in preparation for the census, such as the procurement of computers, laptops, desktops, printers, and solar power systems for the census, among others.

In preparation, the commission also spent money acquiring and managing software, such as “Censuspad and CSentry for data collection, Azure Cloud Infrastructure for managing data storage, security and processing and Environmental Systems Research Institute geospatial data for integration, analysis and utilization.

“Other software acquired include Enumeration Dashboard for monitoring of data quality and coverage Geo spatial dashboard, recruitment portal, logistics management information system and Mobile Device Monitoring System.”

The spokesman furthered that about 810,000 Personal Digital Assistant devices were acquired for the 2023 Census and are stored in all the Central Bank offices across the country.

On other expenses, he said, “The Commission procured vehicles, motorcycles and boats for the movement of personnel and equipment across the length and breadth of the country. This was done along with renovation and equipping of all the 37 state and 774 Local Government offices for effective operational activities and storage for the 2023 Census.

“Conducting a digital census requires constant supply of electricity not only in the cities but also in the hinterland and hard-to-reach areas of the country for charging of PDAs and other equipment. Given the epileptic nature of power supply across the country, the Commission procured generators, power banks and install solar power systems across the country.”

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Meanwhile, Federal Commissioner of National Population Commission (NPC) representing Benue State, Patricia Kupchi, on Tuesday said about one million workers have been screened for the 2023 census.

Kupchi, in her speech delivered at a one-day ‘Breakfast Meeting and Briefing with Media Executives’ on the rescheduled 2023 Population and Housing Census held in Makurdi, however, said the commission would sustain public awareness until the announcement of a new date.

“The recruitment of the ad hoc workers had been completed before the rescheduled census through a rigorous online process in which about one million workers have been screened and found worthy of the assignment.

“The commission had acquired Personal Digital Assistants for the 2023 census. About 500,000 of these devices have been delivered to the 36 state offices and the FCT and configured for the exercise,” she said.

Kupchi noted that the rescheduling had given the commission an opportunity to further perfect processes and systems for the conduct of the first-ever green digital census.

She assured Nigerians of a credible 2023 census that they could rely on in the history of the country.