By Eddie Onuzuruike
The issue of census becomes very critical daily as it was done 17 years ago rendering all figures obsolete. Most disturbing is that it is an endless source of opprobrium in the comity of nations. Not even in the present age alone, I recall that Census has a serious biblical relevance. If we trace the biography of Jesus Christ, the bible reports that it was when Joseph the earthly father of Christ took his pregnant wife, Mary to Bethlehem that labour ensued.
Israel then was under the administrative rule of the Roman Empire and Caesar Augustus was the head like the Nigerian Government of today. Caesar has ordered a headcount possibly for administrative purposes and if it wasn’t important and compulsory, Mary being very pregnant would have been spared yet being on maternity leave, she waddled on.
Mind you, it was for all Jewish people and Joseph being a descendant of David was required by law to be physically present in Bethlehem. Instructively, some Islamic scholars agree that census has significant mention in their Holy book.
Census is of serious importance especially now that the world is a Global village. Remember that expression? The Global village, a term first used in the 60s by a Canadian media theorist, Marshal McLuhan who marveled at the wonders of radio and TV then. Compare with now, the wonders of internet and GSM. Quite unfortunately, Nigeria operates on estimation, so shameful to hear our leaders and other professionals say, ‘Nigeria is about 150 to 200 million people.’
A good knowledge of our population helps a lot in many exercises especially in economic planning for all categories. Malthus, the foremost political Economist and demographer, warned about population explosion and gave tips on what is to be done on food and housing. It created an awareness even when later discoveries faulted him as an alarmist and a doom’s day theorist.
For many years, United States of America has budgeted humongous amounts on research to contain population giving rise to birth control and categorizing other indices of population, vis-à-vis the aged and youths with special reference to workforce, the productive and the consuming age. If you have more youths, it aides the producers and manufacturers to have targets. The baby boomers’ era made waves in America and Europe to the extent that those in the manufacturing industries had focus. In an ageing population, the pharmacy and drug sector knew a clear direction and focused on drugs for the elderly just like a community with the criminals in surging numbers will build more prisons and rehabs, train and employ more police and other security agencies. In truth, the national budget should have inputs from the population commission considering migration and immigration.
The President postponed the 2023 exercise after consultation with the FEC and the Chairman of the National Population commission and his team even when spokes persons of the commission had avowed that they were battle ready. All hope is not lost especially after listening to Inuwa Jalingo on Arise TV.
The presidency in their wisdom put it off, not being anxious to claim the glory of organizing the best census exercise in Nigeria, allowing the incoming Government to handle it. Despite the expensive preparation and whopping loss in money and materials, doing it later could be better.
From Jalingo’s testimony, there are new discoveries, new developments and inventions by Nigerians. This is certainly good news in terms of technological advancement in the homegrown leaps and I will ask, are these homegrown discoveries patented? Were these smart inventors compensated for their works as to encourage upcoming ones? Were they made to understand that technological efforts are very fast that they can research to improve other areas not only on census gizmos? Do remember that patenting these can protect works from piracy on intellectual property.
As Jalingo promised, most of the tablets are already programmed with other accessories now domiciled in the CBN where moths and other weevils cannot destroy it like the case where we were told that a python swallowed money that should have been in government coffers. For sure, storage in the CBN is as solid as the rock.
In all, better late than never! With this postponement, the commission can plan extensively, going beyond the baby boomers to the millennials and the Gen X, the present age.
We can do it especially when we are determined. God bless Nigeria!
Eddie Onuzuruike is a Nigerian Writer