Abuja — After much dilly-dallying, the federal government thursday finally ruled out the conduct of national census indefinitely.
It also did not provide a clear-cut date for the exercise.
This came after many had anticipated that the national head count would be conducted in 2018 given two previous postponements of the exercise.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), explained that there was no budgetary allocation for the commission to embark on conduct of population census even in the near future.
He said: "We have this budget at 2015 and thereabout. About that time, the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) component of the budget was estimated to cost about N22. 5 billion.
"Often times, the question is whether there will be census or there will be no census. If you are conversant you will see that looking at the NPC budget, there is nothing to suggest that it is a census budget.
"So what we are getting is what other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are getting. But what we now do is, since we don't build houses, we don't build roads, our capital projects are census and related activities and vital registration.
"And of course, with other things we do out of our budget, we now in our own wisdom apply part of our budget to EAD."
The chairman also stated that it required a total sum of N22 billion to enable it effectively complete the ongoing EAD exercise in all the 774 local government areas in the country.
He added that with the commencement of the fieldwork for the continuation of the EAD, the commission has already spent N2.4 billion on the previous exercise.
Duruiheoma observed that "the previous EAD exercise and the current one, which commenced yesterday, would successively demarcate 104 local government areas and that the remaining 671 LGAs will be covered under the subsequent EAD programme.
"So far, to get to where we are, we have spent about N2.4 billion on EAD. So, the question is how much do we need? We need more than what we are getting. The budget we presented some three years ago is about N22 billion. If you take away N2 billion from it, you are left with about N20 billion. We need that much to take off.
"You will recall that the commission had previously demarcated 84 local government areas, in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory under the previous EAD.
"The next EAD will take place in 16 LGAs in 15 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)," he said.
Duruiheoma explained further that "at the end of this EAD, the commission would have successfully demarcated 103 LGAs," adding: "A 52-person demarcation team consisting of 40 demarcators, 10 supervisors and two quality control assistants has been recruited for each of the 16 states and the FCT and will be trained from March 1 to 3. The actual field work starts immediately till March 24, 2018.
"To us in the commission, the significance of the EAD exercise goes beyond the conduct census. We plan to establish and maintain a national frame including locality list and house numbering for future censuses and surveys in line with the mandate of the commission."
Speaking, NPC Director General, Dr Ghaji Bello, urged Nigerians to embrace the EAD exercise, adding that the project is very strategic to national census whenever it is to be conducted.
Bello assured Nigerians that the commission would remain committed to its constitutional responsibility and in the delivery of accurate national census.