The National Population Commission has explained that the over N200bn reportedly spent on the 2023 population and housing census covers the total cost of preparation since 2014.

At a press briefing on Friday in Abuja, the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr Isiaka Yahaya, explained the huge amount spent in preparing for the census was a result of the infrastructural deficit that plagues the country.

He said, “Consistent with global practice and inspired by an unswerving commitment to positively rewrite the history of census in Nigeria, the Commission opted to conduct a digital census deploying technology on a massive scale.

“In a country struggling with an acute infrastructural deficit, this massive undertaking cannot come cheap but at a huge cost. Yes, it is true that N200bn has been spent on preparations for the 2023 census so far. However, this fund was not expended in the last few weeks, months or years but rather since 2014 when preparations for the 2023 census actually began. Indeed, part of the N200bn was expended before the coming of the present Commission, which was inaugurated twice between 2018 and 2020 and even before the inception of the Buhari administration.”

According to the public affairs director, the first preparatory activity for the 2023 Population and Housing Census was the Enumeration Area Demarcation, which has been done in phases over a period of eight years.

He added that the EAD activity led to the purchase of high-resolution satellite imageries of the country’s land space and equipment, training and deployment of thousands of ad-hoc workers, among other costly expenses.

Yahaya also said that a series of workshops involving academia, professional bodies, Civil Society Organizations, and stakeholders were organized at the national and state levels between 2015 and 2017, as well as some test runs.

On the test runs, he said, “The first Pretest was conducted between 31st May 2021 and June 13th, 2021 in the thirty-six states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory while the second Pretest with larger coverage and broader objectives was conducted from November 24th to December 10th, 2021 also in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. These test runs cost huge amounts of money in terms of training, deployment of personnel, and procurement of equipment and software.”

He added that a trial census was done in July across the country with over 13,000 personnel trained, deployed, and paid allowances.

The director also disclosed that several items have been procured in preparation for the census, such as the procurement of computers, laptops, desktops, printers, and solar power systems for the census, among others.

The commission also spent money acquiring and managing software, such as “Censuspad and CSentry for data collection, Azure Cloud Infrastructure for managing data storage, security and processing and Environmental Systems Research Institute geospatial data for integration, analysis and utilization.

“Other software acquired include Enumeration Dashboard for monitoring of data quality and coverage Geo spatial dashboard, recruitment portal, logistics management information system and Mobile Device Monitoring System,” according to Isiaka.

He added that about 810,000 Personal Digital Assistant devices were acquired for the 2023 Census and are stored in all the Central Bank offices across the country.

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