2023 CENSUS: NPC Forecloses Questions On Religion, Ethnicity

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With the 2023 General Elections highlighting the fissures among Nigerians, especially on the basis of ethnicity or/and religious affiliation, the National Population Commission (NPC) is particularly concerned about avoiding compounding the situation during the census billed for May 2023.

Consequently, the NPC has clarified that the 2023 Population and Housing Census questionnaire does not provide any column for religion and ethnicity.

The NPC made the clarification on Friday in Kano, Kano State, North-West Nigeria, when the National Publicity Committee on the 2023 Population and Housing Census paid an advocacy visit to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Kano.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visit was led by the Chairman of the committee and Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari.

Speaking on the speculations that Nigerians would be asked questions on their faith and ethnic affiliation, a member of the committee, Dr. Isiaka Yahaya, said that the NPC was not interested in such data.

Yahaya, who is also the NPC’s Director of Public Affairs, maintained that issues of religion and ethnicity being peddled on social media were mere distractions and without foundation.

“Since 1991 when the National Population Commission has been conducting census, we have never asked questions on ethnicity and religion.

“We didn’t do it in 1991, we didn’t do it in 2006 and we won’t do it now.

“The reason is obvious. The two issues are very sensitive and have the capacity to divert attention from the main issue of the census,” he said.

Similarly, the Director-General of the Voice of  Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, urged Nigerians not to see the census as a contest among ethnic groups.

He said that the census was only for planning purposes and not to confer advantage on any group.

“For planning purposes, President Muhammadu Buhari said before he leaves office, he wants to deploy digital technology to conduct a headcount.

“The incoming President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in planning with our resources, will know exactly how many Nigerians he is planning for,” Okechukwu said.

Abari on his part commended the authorities of the NTA for playing a critical role in the sensitisation campaign for the headcount.

He reiterated that the headcount was solely to obtain data for national development purposes and urged the media to help tackle the twin scourge of fake news and misinformation.

The General Manager of NTA Kano, Sani Yusuf, expressed the readiness of the NTA to support the sensitisation campaign on the impending census.

He gave an assurance that the media house would produce jingles to aid the campaign as well as provide coverage on the exercise.

The committee also visited a number of other media outlets in the state, including Pyramid FM, Kano, Radio Kano and Triumph newspapers

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