Census has remained an essential element of activities that a nation uses to determine resource control and allocation, governance and statistical estimations for fulfilling the people’s wishes.
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The 1952/1953 census is reputed to be the first near-scientific census conducted in the nation despite allegedly undercounting the population. It was therefore not surprising that the results were withdrawn in 1962. Yet, an important census count was undertaken in 1991. After an initial transition programme from military to civilian rule was scuttled, the military administrator, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), thought it was time to have the long-due census done. The 1991 figures showed 88.992 million total national counts. Meanwhile, projections by the World Bank stated that the number should have exceeded 120 million. The huge discrepancy of about 30 million induced strong reactions and sentiments among politicians and citizens who suspected that the government was trying to play on their intelligence. For reasons best known to the leaders of the nation at the time, the census results of 1991 were not fully disclosed until August 1994 (although a version of it was released in March 1992), strengthening the case of the sceptics that the number was being doctored. However, the tense political climate in the country after June 12, 1993, presidential elections could have contributed more to this delay in the release of results. The invalidation of the June 12 results of the presidential election and the seizing of power by General Abacha scuttled the announcement of the 1991 census figures.
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Analysts expected that if the figures of the 1991 census were published, it could explain the growth rate of the economic centres in the SouthWest and the SouthEast in the 80s. The country needed more reliable census data for planning purposes because the cities were experiencing higher migration inflow, excessive focus on crude oil export and a dwindling agricultural sector. Also for the fact that the relative size of states gets translated into how powerful and influential that state becomes, the results could be a source of conflict. Incidentally, after the 1991 census figures were revealed, it showed that Kano (5,810,470) is the most populous while Lagos (5,725,116) came second. This constituted a major anomaly of facts that an ordinary layperson could not have believed. Another reason for the politicisation of the census figures over the years is to doctor Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) allocation in favour of particular states. Today, 30 years after the 1991 census, Nigeria’s population has grown by at least double the 1991 figures. Overall, the demographic analysis resulting from the census exercise would be a great complement for the development of the nation. Reference: Wikipedia
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This article was first published on 29th August 2021 and updated on September 1st, 2021 at 11:47 am


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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