Why Ethnicity, Religion Are Excluded From Census Questionnaire - NPC Boss

Abuja, Nigeria - THE National Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Sumu'ila Danko Makama, explained yesterday why the Federal Government is not including ethnicity and religion in the questionnaire for the 2005 Population and Housing Census declaring that it was for political reasons.

He said this yesterday when he presented an update of the preparation for the census to President Olusegun Obasanjo at the State House Abuja. He appealed to Nigerians "to accept the decision of government as the main purpose of the census is to generate data and plan for the provision of basic necessities of life to ordinary people".

Receiving the report President Obasanjo also appealed to Nigerians not to see the census as a way of preparation by government to tax the people, and advised the Population Commission to put into perspective the culture of Nigerians when it comes to asking questions that border on the number of children people have and cause of death.

"Culture must be borne in mind in all these things. Just like the typical Fulani man would not tell you the number of his cows, the typical Yoruba man would not tell you the number of his children, death in the household. The cause of death they may not even know. For example, in my village, they would know that somebody died but what killed him, they may not know".

The President, while urging the Population Commission to make all data collected accessible, said that "for us to have a comprehensive planning that can be worked upon and make us credible internationally, we must have a credible census".

Speaking with State House Correspondents after the presentation, the NPC boss said "in developing the census questionnaire, we held a workshop in Kaduna last September at which all the stakeholders were represented. The purpose was to develop a consensus on the number of variables that would be included in the questionnaire. "So, we agreed on all except two.

There was consensus on religion and ethnicity and they directed us to make presentation to the Federal Government on the merits and demerits of including or otherwise the two variables, which we did. As you know, the National Council of State met and decided that these two variables should be excluded from the 2005 census as was the case in the 1991 census" If you build a hospital, everybody is going to use it. You do not build a separate hospital for Muslims and Christians. Just as you do not set up separate water supply for different ethnic groups. I think we should look at it from this perspective".

The way Nigerians should see this census is that when you provide water, you are providing for everybody without emphasizing ethnic or religious affiliation.