The Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr Tony Elumelu, says adequate knowledge of Nigeria’s population will help accelerate economic growth and development.
Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Group and Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) Plc, said this in Abuja on Monday, at a donor engagement on Nigeria’s 2023 Housing and Population Census.
According to him, the task of conducting the census is critical to our country’s future.
“If we do not know our population, we cannot properly plot our developmental path, our economic growth, our society’s goals.
“Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with an estimated population of over 200 million people. Population growth and development are inextricably related in Nigeria.
“The last time a census was conducted in Nigeria was 2006, when we recorded a population of 140 million people.
“Today, our population is estimated to be in excess of 200 million, it is projected that this figure will grow to 450 million by 2050, which could make Nigerian the third most populous country in the world,” he said.
Elumelu commended President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his laudable effort at organising the 2023 housing and population census.
According to him, credible demographic data is of profound importance for the public and private sector alike.
“We all know we live in a data driven world.
“As a private sector leader with investments in key sectors of the Nigerian economy, I understand first-hand, the value and importance of available, accessible and accurate data.
“Data helps in making informed decisions, driving development, and creating opportunities,” he said.
He said that the upcoming census was a significant milestone in Nigeria’s development, as it would provide an opportunity to collect accurate and reliable data on the country’s population and housing.
He urged the authorities to ensure that the census was credible, as the census figures would serve as a vital tool for policymakers, private sector actors, and civil society organisations.
“The census will affect how we allocate resources in Nigeria and so many other important decisions, so it is important that the process is credible and above board.
“Today, Nigerian population estimates and demographic profile are unclear and projections debatable.
“Census figures and population distribution have unfortunately become politicised.
“Population figures have ramifications for revenue allocation, office allotment, legislative power and even elections.
“The stakes are, therefore, high for various interest groups – we need to act for our nation as a whole and the next generations,” Elumelu said.
He said that Nigeria needed a credible and extensive population enumeration exercise, adding that the National Population Commission (NPC) should live above board.
“The challenge facing the NPC, therefore, is to conduct a census that meets the public’s acceptability criteria
“The most obvious are credible, transparent, verifiable, accessible universal coverage.
“In this regard, being counted must not be an onerous exercise for citizens. We need to reach all our people.
“A credible exercise and outcome should be a source of pride and a demonstration of our capacity and intent,” he said.(NAN)