By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to come up with a feasible time table for the conduct a national census next year.
It also urged the federal government to provide necessary logistics for the exercise as a way of ending the uncertainties surrounding Nigeria’s actual population.
The resolutions of the followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Ademorin Kuye on “Need to Commence the long Overdue National Population Census in Nigeria” at the plenary.
In his debate, Kuye noted that Nigeria’s population is predicated on projected figures provided by foreign organizations like the United Nations, thus making planning extremely difficult in the absence of a population census which the National Population Commission (NPC) would have been ready to conduct every ten years, as is obtainable in other countries, but it is now left to the whims and caprices of the government.
He also recalled that since the first census which was held in Lagos in 1866, there had been a trend towards a better planned and more reliable census exercises as subsequent census exercises took place in 1869, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1911, but were limited to Lagos and its environs and some parts of the Southern Protectorate.
Expressing concern that the last national census was conducted in 2006, the lawmaker said that until it becomes mandatory to conduct census at given intervals like elections, Nigeria will continue to have delays in organizing national census.
He said: “The House is further aware of the extreme importance of conducting another census to ascertain the country’s actual population in order to do away with projected figures, a development that will enable the Government to plan better for the citizens;
“Worried that if adequate measures are not put in place where population census is conducted periodically at least once every 10 years, Nigeria will be lacking in the statistical data of its citizenry either politically or economically;
“Again notes that in 2016, the World Bank estimated Nigeria’s population at 186 million and the United Nations, also in 2017, put Nigeria’s population at 180 million with a growth rate of 2.7 percent and prior to that in 2016, the former Director-General of the National Population Commission (NPC) Alhaji Ghali Bello had estimated Nigeria’s population to be 182 million with a growth rate of 3.5 per cent;
“Also recalls that the National Assembly had, in 2018, called for postponement of the proposed 2018 population census on the ground that such an exercise, coming on the eve of the 2019 general elections, could end in chaos;
“Acknowledges that Nigeria has a dynamic economy and a large population which is expected to double in the next two decades and census is a pivotal and necessary tool for the growth of any emerging society, which in turn informs decision-making at all facets of public and private sectors;
“Cognizant that lack of accurate data on the population of Nigeria has been affecting national planning and development at all levels”.
Adopting the motion, the House set up an Ad-hoc Committee to liaise with NPC, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning and the National Bureau of Statistics to work out modalities on how to conduct the exercise and also to liaise with other foreign donors such as UNFPA, EU, USAID, UNESCO, AU for necessary support for the exercise.
Similarly, the House at plenary also called for a holistic review of all agreements between oil companies in Nigeria and their host Communities.
Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai from Delta State moved the motion.
He said that that the execution of agreements between oil companies in Nigeria and their host communities was a form of Corporate Social Responsibility.
According to him, such strategic business management and corporate governance initiative was designed to balance responsibility of stakeholders at all levels and produce greater impact on a wide number of people.
The lawmaker however observed that most of the agreements were either partially implemented or completely not implemented by the oil companies which he said has resulted to untold hardships on the host communities.
Ossai also expressed worry that the continued breach of such agreements and under performance by Oil Companies has built up dis-affection, restiveness and tension in the oil producing communities in Nigeria;
He therefore submitted that a holistic review of all agreements executed and entered into by Oil Companies with their host Communities will resolve all problems and provide a lasting solution to the poor implementation of agreements by oil companies.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to review all the agreements and memoranda of understanding between the Oil Companies and the host Communities in order to protect the interest of host Communities.
The Committees were given 8 weeks to conclude and report back to the House for further legislative action.