Census: NPC Boss Defends Removal of Religion, Ethnicity Data

Lagos, Nigeria -- The decision of the federal Government to exclude religion and ethnicity parametres in the 2005 Census, following threat of boycott by Northern governors, has been described as necessary sacrifice made in the National interest.

National Population Commission Chairman, Chief Samuila Danko Makama, made this disclosure in Abuja at a one-day briefing for State Directors and Heads of Technical Units, ahead of the conduct of 2005 population and Housing Census.

Chief Makama who described the threat of boycott as very sensitive, noted that government toed the line of removing religion and ethnicity from the census because of the divergent views of a broad spectrum of participants at the Kaduna stakeholders conference on the two topics.

The conference which he said comprised of religious leaders, representatives of civil society, political parties, Arewa group, Ohanaze among many other, were diveded along the line of ethnicity and religion.

The NPC chairman, said the inability of the stakeholders to arrive at a consensus produced a lacuna, which the NPC objectively refelected in its report to the National Council of State, headed by the president.

Makama noted that government decision to expunge the two sensitive areas was in line with its resolve to ensure sucessful completion of the exercise, as well as the need to ensure political stability.

While saying it was desirable to request figures from the census based on religion and ethnic grouping, the NPC boss said that such desire remained inexpecdient for now.

He pointed out that all interest groups in the country need to agree to move the country forward, adding that in the next head count, the variable of place of origin of all Nigerians will be included.

While calling on Nigerians to show understanding, he expressed optimism that such parameter as place of origin will provide on the spot data based on ethnicgrouping of all Nigerians irrespective of their geographical location.