The National Population Commission has said there will be no public holiday during the forthcoming census, scheduled to hold between May 3 and 7, 2023.
The commission stated further that everyone living in the country, including foreigners, would be counted as it urged people to make themselves available.
Saturday PUNCH reports that the exercise will be the first since the 2006 census. The commission had promised that the exercise would be done digitally.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Friday, the spokesperson for the NPC, Isiaka Yahaya, stated, “There won’t be a public holiday, because during public holidays people can move from one place to another, but there may be restriction on movement, based on past experiences. However, I can’t confirm that now. The government will come out with a categorical statement on that.”
“Foreigners will be counted as long as they are in Nigeria. Everybody on the land space of Nigeria will be counted. If you look at the definition of Census, it is the enumeration of all persons. It did not say only citizens. So, everyone resident in the country during the census period will be counted.
“There will be a section that will ask if you are a foreigner or not and the country they are from. It is part of the data to be collected, so it is not separate.”
Asked to clarify whether anyone who refuses to present themselves for the exercise would be sanctioned, he said, “It is a rumour that people who refuse to be counted will be sanctioned. All I know is that we have encouraged all Nigerians to make themselves available for counting because the exercise is in national interest. There are actually offences that we do not want to emphasise, but we do not have the power and capacity to lock anyone up.”
Meanwhile, the NPC Director in Plateau State, Pam Dame, has given an assurance that the exercise will be credible and reliable.
Speaking when he visited the Plateau Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Jos on Friday, Dame who reiterated the importance of the exercise to planning and national development said the commission would deploy technology to ensure that the exercise was done with minimal hitches.
While calling on Nigerians to cooperate with the personnel that would conduct the exercise, he noted, “The forthcoming census will be a bit unique because we have made arrangements for improvement over the previous ones. We will deploy technology so as to curtail chances of manipulation and make it credible, reliable and acceptable to Nigerians.
“It will be very difficult for anyone to manipulate this census because we will deploy what is needed to make it credible and acceptable.”
The state chairman of NUJ, Mr Paul Jatau, tasked the commission to conduct proper training for its officials to avert challenges experienced during the general elections.