Beyond 2023 Elections: Census and the Cost of Counting You.
We have had it rough with our economy through mismanagement and its twin sister of manifest gross incompetence on the account of handlers of our economy but the anchor of woe holding us perpetually down at the harbour of misery is cast by the Captain of our ship- President Muhammadu Buhari. The inability of the “NEPA bill” certified ruler was finally laid to rest on the Naira redesign policy saga,. How in the world did he allow Emefiele to confuse him into this unending trauma of naira redesign and swap? The presidential election was the reason given; to stop vote buy, election is over, Supreme Court has extended the date, yet both new and old notes are no where to be found. If you think we made any progress in 8 years of this administration; then you must be kidding. This administration as constituted lacks the capacity to conduct census!
Emi lokan! The outburst that echoed from Abeokuta few days before APC primary was a revelation of the purpose of Buhari. It was meant to achieve nothing other than to hold us down to Buhari – Tinubu, your turn, my turn arrangements.
We had thought the legacy of Buhari’s administration will be a free and fair election but what we funded INEC with N305 billion is this disgraceful election that confirms the mystery of the tongue spoken in Abeokuta.
Weeks to the election, Emefiele presented the Naira swap idea and our inept President jumped on it without caution.
The latest is the adventure to count the very important you at the cost of N869,000 (Eight hundred and sixty-nine thousand naira only). You! Yes, that is how important you are, that we can’t wait for the economy to leap out of recession heading for recovery before you are counted and it has to be before Buhari would hand over to the President elect on May 29, 2023.
The Federal Government says over $1.88 billion (N869 billion) is needed to conduct the 2023 population and housing census. If you divide that amount by 200 million which is our speculative number, it will give the worth of counting YOU at 869,000k. I don’t know how many Nigerians will want to be counted for such amount of money?
On April 2022, the federal government announced that it would conduct the census in April 2023 after the elections.
Speaking at a high-level partner engagement in Abuja on Monday, Clement Agba, Minister of state for budget and National Planning, said the federal government has provided 46 percent of the budget.
Agba said there still remains an outstanding of N327.2 billion needed to carry out the census effectively.
“The total requirements for this census, including the post-census activities, is N869 billion, this is about 1.88 billion US dollars,” he said.
“When you hear the numbers, they really look very huge. Census all over the world, the average is between four to six dollars. However, in the United States, they spend $16 per person. In Botswana, they spend about $10 per person. So Nigeria’s $6 per person, you’ll agree with me, is very reasonable.
So far, the government has spent 291.5 billion naira which is $632 million. This is about 46 percent of the requirement for the census. I know this time around we’re not just doing only the population census, we’re also doing a housing census.
“So the additional requirements for the critical items to ensure the census is done will be 327.2 billion naira. This is about $709.9 million US dollars.”
Agba explained that the government has not conducted a census in almost two decades due to the change in administration, recession, and COVID-19, among others.
He said the census would be digital, green, and transformative, adding that beyond insecurity and cultural issues, funding remains a major challenge for the exercise.
Here goes the real issue! Begging has been upgraded from our 20 million out of school children to becoming the shameless flaunt of the occupiers of government!
Our Honourable minister dis-honourably said; the government needs support from the public both “in cash and kind”, to amongst other things purchase tablets for enumerators, internet and data connectivity as well as conduct training.
Obviously, the Federal Government is stuck in the middle of the road on this project for lack of resources to push it through. This exercise should therefore be suspended. The estimate is rather too exorbitant and as we all can see there is no money for such big elephant project in the budget. Our confrontation at chasing cash is just enough a stress to cope with till Buhari’s hand is raised in a motor cade saying goodbye!
Just when you think you have seen it all, there goes our elites in power again. Dear Lord in Heaven lead us away from the tortuous path of this clique and their conspirators, may this trauma not continue with us beyond May 29, 2023!
By Bolaji O. Akinyemi