Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Gida Mustapha believes the retreat being organized by the National Population Commission, will provide the avenue for candid internal examination of its efforts and performance during the Trial Census, and appraise the extent the lessons learnt from the exercise will shape the planning and implementation of the 2023 Population and Housing Census project.
Boss Mustapha in his keynote address titled, ‘The 2023 Trial Census: Lessons Learnt and Strategies Towards a Successful Census’, at the opening of NPC retreat in Abuja, said there is no doubting the fact that, any organization that is desirous of achieving its set mandate, must constantly embark on self-evaluation to critically review its progress or otherwise. “With a huge national assignment such as the forthcoming Population and Housing Census, this retreat couldn’t have come at a better time than now as the Commission earnestly prepares for the conduct of the 2023 Population and Housing Census”.
He said that the Trial Census, conducted successfully by the Commission, is one of the pre-census activities undertaken as a dress rehearsal for the main census exercise to ascertain the level of preparedness of the Commission for the conduct of the 2023 Population and Housing Census.
According to him, “I am optimistic that this retreat will provide the Commission an avenue for candid internal examination of its efforts and performance during the Trial Census, and appraise extent the lessons learnt from the exercise will shape the planning and implementation of the 2023 Population and Housing Census project.
“The central focus of the 2023 census is to produce not only accurate, reliable and acceptable census but also inclusive and user-friendly census data. This desire I am aware, has informed the convening of this retreat. This retreat, therefore, is a necessary first step towards strategizing for the conduct of a census that will be truly digital, scientific, and produce data that will guide planning within the context of global economic challenges, insecurity and human development situations.
“Given its potential to engender a deeper understanding of the population dynamics in the next few decades, the forthcoming Nigerian Population and Housing census must be seen as a defining national and global agenda, hence all stakeholders must bring to bear their experiences to deliver on the constitutional mandate of the Commission by thoroughly reviewing the Trial Census exercise to come up with veritable contributions that will deepen the census-taking process.
“Furthermore, this retreat will no doubt serve as a valuable platform for harmonizing, interrogating and documenting these lessons learnt and eliciting implementable recommendations that will position the Commission to deliver on the much-expected 2023 Population and Housing Census”, said Boss Gida Mustapha while appealing to all key stakeholders at national, state and local government areas to extend maximum participation to the Commission in its noble goal of delivering accurate and reliable census to the nation.
“Making the 2023 Census is a collective duty we owe to this great nation and to the benefits of present and future generations of Nigerians”.
While welcoming participants at the retreat, the NPC Chairman, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra commended the commitment, sacrifice and hardwork displayed by the young Nigerians whose efforts, he said, reinforced the Commission’s confidence that Nigerian youths are the greatest asset to national development, if their potentials are properly harnessed.
Isa Kwarra explained that the aim of the retreat is to productively engage in a candid internal examination of the recently concluded Trial census exercise as it relates to the preparation for the 2023 Census and to effectively strategize for the task ahead, and emphasized its specific objectives as comprehensive mapping of lessons learnt from the Trial Census; documentations of expected challenges in the 2023 Population and Housing Census based on Trial Census experience; recommendation of short and long term measures to the Commission for addressing anticipated challenges and recommendations for the successful implementation of the 2023 Population and Housing Census.
He pointed out that the 2023 Population and Housing Census is planned as a fully digital and innovative census, has presented unique experiences and challenges that the Commission continues to learn from and incorporate into the census planning and added that the Commission has had to make deliberate modifications and improvements to the census planning process to ensure that the 2023 Population and Housing Census is conducted in line with global best practices.
“Let me state categorically that this retreat is expected to provide an avenue for self-examination. The Commission’s efforts during the trial Census, and to what extent lessons learnt from the exercise will shape the planning and implementation of the 2023 Population and Housing Census. It also has the potential to elicit raw experiences that may not have been fully documented in the field. This critical assessment of the experiences of the Trial Census and the lessons learnt will project the willingness of the Commission to self-evaluate, course-correct and also project its overall readiness to deliver on a credible, transparent and acceptable Census in 2023”.
He said the Trial Census is a major preparatory towards the 2023 Census, and was a dress rehearsal designed to finetune the plans and methodology for the next census and added that it was a massive exercise that involved the deployment of personnel and materials across every state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory; a development that provided the Commission the opportunity to tests its procedures and the technology for the 2023 Census. The exercise was conducted from 13th to 30th July 2022.
The NPC boss said that while the report of the Trial Census is being collated, the Commission is happy that the preliminary outcome of the exercise has reinforced its confidence and conviction that the Commission is prepared for the 2023 Census. “I, therefore, wish to congratulate and commend the Honourable Federal Commissioners, Director-General, Directors of the Commission, State Directors and the entire Staff for the Successful conduct of the Trial Census exercise. My commendation also goes to thousands of Adhoc workers engaged in the trial census”.
While urging all participants to be frank, focused and professional in their contributions to the retreat, the NPC Chairman stated that the essence of the retreat is not to trade blames and should therefore refrain from the undue defense of what went wrong and be open to suggestions that will make the conduct of the 2023 Census better.
His words: “We must remain open to new ideas and innovation as well as also be ready to suggest ways the Commission can achieve a 100% success in the 2022 Population and Housing Census. I hope that the deliberations at this retreat will also impact positively on all aspects of the preparations and execution of the 2022 Census exercise”.