The House of Representatives on Wednesday mandated a probe into the N200 billion expenditure reported by the Nigerian Population Commission (NPC), a quarter of the N800 billion approved federal budget for the yet-to-be-conducted 2023 Population and Housing Census.
The investigative motion, which sparked the resolution, was introduced by Dominic Okafor, a representative from the Aguta Federal Constituency of Anambra State. The motion, aptly titled “Need to Investigate the Expenditure on the Postponed 2023 Population and Housing Census by the National Population Commission and Conduct of the National Population/Housing Census,” highlighted concerns over the hefty sum expended in light of the census’s deferment.
The role of the census in developmental planning
Okafor, spearheading the discussion, emphasized the critical role census data plays in developmental planning and policy-making, especially pertinent in channeling governmental palliatives to vulnerable citizens. He pointed out that the funds utilized could have had a significant impact on Nigerian lives and the distribution of state-sponsored support.
The NPC, obligated to conduct periodic censuses, has come under scrutiny for substantial spending without conducting the pivotal 2023 population and housing census. With the last census dating back to 2006, the delay in updating crucial demographic information raises questions on resource allocation and economic planning.
A call for the establishment of a census tribunal
Usman Jaha, voicing support for the motion and representing the Damboa/Gwoza/Chibok Federal Constituency, criticized the idea of conducting the census amidst the prevailing insecurity that has displaced residents and razed homes, making such an undertaking unfeasible within the year.
Following extensive deliberations, the House decided to set aside the initial calls for President Bola Tinubu to announce a census date and the establishment of Census Tribunals.
Instead, the focus shifted to the House’s fourth prayer, which calls for a rigorous inquiry into the NPC’s N200 billion expenditure and seeks to prepare the ground for a successful population and housing census at a future, undetermined date.
Abbas Tajudeen, presiding over the session, directed the Committee on Population to engage with the NPC and deliver strategic counsel to ensure transparency and accountability in the expended funds and the successful execution of the census when eventually scheduled.
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