Postponed Census: Items procured available for scrutiny — NPC Chairman

The Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Nasir Kwarra, has assured that the N200 billion spent on the postponed 2023 census was judiciously utilised and items procured available for scrutiny.

Kwarra said this on Thursday in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, while fielding questions from journalists on the sideline of the opening ceremony of the Training Interviewers for the 2023 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).

The House of Representatives had on Wednesday sought to investigate the N200 billion spent on preparations for the postponed 2023 census by NPC.

The NPC boss said the procurement preparatory processes for the census were enduring and items procured durable as they would be used for the next census because they are readily available.

“We don’t have to procure these items again and the training that we have conducted remains with the people we trained, the facilitators, the supervisors and the enumerators.

“So, what we may need to do is to do a refresher training for the trial census that we did because it’s been more than a year; we will do a similar thing, but maybe the scope will be reduced because we don’t have to go all out again and conduct a full blown trial census.

“So, most things are in place, right from the Personal Digital Assistants procured are well secured in our various Central Bank of Nigeria offices nationwide.”

The chairman added that other facilities such as manuals for the training, the ICT equipment, data centres have been continually developed and that the commission is on course for the census.

He, however, said that he believes that the nation still needs the census because the issue of security depends on it.

He said “no matter what, we need this data so that we can plan for the development of the country, including addressing the issue of security.”

On the importance of the NDHS, Kwarra said that over the years, the survey stood as a beacon of reliable, comprehensive data, providing policymakers, actionable researchers and stakeholders with insights to make informed decisions.

He added that “every cycle of the NDHS brings not only its own set of challenges, but opportunities to redefine the narrative for health and social demographics in Nigeria.

“The importance of what we are about to undertake cannot be overstated.

The stakes are high; the information we gather and the insights we develop have the capability to influence health and social policies, not just for the immediate future, but for a long time to come.

“It is not simply about numbers and data; it’s about human lives, about the wellbeing of our communities and the future trajectory of our nation.”

The chairman told the interviewers that as key players in the project, the success of the NDHS hinges on the quality, authenticity and precision of the information they gather.

Mr Ishaku Maigida, the Director, Field Services and Methodology, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said that the data going to be generated and produced would help to bridge the gap on availability of data on nutrition, particularly among children and women within the reproductive age.

He assured that NBS would continually collaborate with the commission and any other agency working toward data generation to ensure reliable data.

Dr Chris Isokpunwu, the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said that the NDHS is an important source of information for the health sector, setting a baseline for government’s performance on health.

He said “the survey is being conducted by Nigerians and owned by Nigeria because the NPC is conducting it and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is providing technical support.

“When the result comes out, it will be a Nigerian result, so we have to make it an accurate one such that external persons will agree that we have conducted a good survey.

“Therefore, I want you to know that this is a national assignment and our national reputation is also at stake and this is one survey that you will be proud of.

“Please take this training seriously because it’s going to be important when you go to the field; do not be tempted to cook or forge results because decisions are made based on those results and when that happens, you may be the one affected.”

Dr Joy Ufere, the World Health Orgainsation’s Technical Adviser on Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health/Healthy Aging, said that the survey is important as the world is almost six years toward the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to her, Nigeria is signatory to the SDGs and the survey will tell if the nation is getting closer to achieving the goals or not.

She added that “this survey will also tell us the number of Nigerians reached to ensure that we provide Universal Health Coverage.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NDHS is expected to produce data on infant and child mortality, health of women and maternal mortality.

It will be carried out by collecting data from 42,000 households in 1400 clusters within and across the 774 local government areas of the country.

It will involve collecting data from women of reproductive age from 15 to 49 years and men 15 to 69 years.

Also, the height and weight of children under the age of five years will be determined, as well as the extent of wasting and stunting in children so that policy and programmes will be tailored toward addressing identified health issues.