Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Hon Nasir Isa Kwara, on Monday assured Nigerians and the international community of the present administration’s resolve to provide accurate population data against the current estimated 223 million.
Hon Kwara made this statement during a media chat with Humanitarian Correspondents after a meeting held with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, who underscored the importance of data that will help in delivering the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.
The NPC chairman, who promised to provide the Ministry with data from the forthcoming population and housing census, disclosed that the Commission has identified 65 million houses during the trial census exercise conducted across the country.
According to him, the Commission has also identified special populations who are not living in normal steady homes, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), fishermen, herders, and those living under the bridges, among others.
He disclosed that the Commission has already completed the necessary procurement for the forthcoming population and housing census, adding that the Commission has demarcated the 774 Local Government Areas across the country and has maps of residential areas, offices, water bodies, among others.
Responding to inquiries about the actual population, Hon Kwara said, “Yes, she (Minister) did ask that question, and I think it was a guiding question. As of now, we don’t have the actual number of people that we have. What we have is just an estimate. We’ve done a lot of projections, from the last census to the current population, and we believe we are estimated at 223 million in Nigeria.
It’s an estimate; it’s a projection. But to get the actual figure, we need to conduct a census. We aim to provide the Nigerian public, the Nigerian government, and the global community with the actual population of Nigeria, its characteristics, distribution, and so on. We need Nigerians to support us as we go through the preparatory processes for the conduct of the census.
As she mentioned, we are also warehousing a lot of geospatial data that we can use because it is obtained through the use of GIS, GPS, and satellite images. So, it’s very correct. With the proper coordinates of every building, every facility in this country, even the water bodies that we have, the distribution of population, the household average size, and so on.
There are things that we can use once we conclude the census. The geospatial data is already available, and we can use it before the conduct of the next census,” the NPC Chairman assured.
While responding to questions regarding the reports of alleged hacking of the NPC server, Hon. Kwara, who dismissed the report, argued that the report was unfounded.
He said, “We have all the measures in place. That hacking story was just made up. It wasn’t true. There wasn’t any hacking at all. Our data is well secured. However, we’re still building and fortifying the security around our data. With the approval of the government, we want to build a Cybersecurity Center that will not just wait until you are attacked but will proactively hunt for any eventualities, so our open data will be well protected.”
In her remarks, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, challenged the NPC management on the need to come up with accurate population data that will help in planning and implementing the Ministry’s mandate.
Dr Edu said, “We have the chairman and the entire team from the National Population Commission here at the Ministry seeking collaboration with the Ministry. They are the custodians of the data we have in Nigeria, so they house the census data and other critical data important to the delivery of our mandate, which is the Renewed Hope Agenda by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“They are strong partners in the implementation of our mandate. From them, we’ll get the total number of Nigerians, which will help us plan our interventions. They will also provide us with specific data on the population of different demographics, including persons who are below the poverty line and the dimensions of poverty, so that we can address them in our key interventions.
“Most importantly, they will work with us at the grassroots, especially concerning implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. They have staff on the ground in various wards, local governments, and communities, and these staff will collaborate with us. We’ll be setting up a technical team between the Ministry and the Commission to flesh out various aspects of this collaboration.
“Furthermore, we’ll work with their team on geospatial digital mapping and statistics across the nation. This will help in the detailed implementation of the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and humanitarian issues across the entire country. They are a very viable partner, and we will support them all the way through,” she noted.