• Adopt INEC’s classification for a more inclusive data
“An accurate census is critical to our democracy and to our economy. It underpins fair representation in government and allows us to ensure that our communities receive equitable funding for schools, roads, health care, and much more.” Alex Padilla
As we count down to the 2023 Census, it is important to begin to constructively interrogate the processes and procedures with a view to ensuring that the historic exercise is accurate and inclusive.
The exercise is historic in many ways, the Census will be the first Census since 2006 which implies that anyone who is sixteen years and below have never been captured in any Census exercise.
Second, it is a digital Census therefore increasing the accuracy of data collected . The first in Nigeria and the fourth on the continent following Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
Also, the Census is green, which means that electronic forms hosted on Personal Digital Assistant devices will be used to capture information on buildings and persons instead of papers.
More importantly, the dearth of data for economic, political and social-cultural planning that has been our death kernel as a country will give way to reliable and detailed data for policy intervention and monitoring of development goals.
It is worth stating that inclusivity is a major variable for any accurate, reliable and acceptable Census. The National Population Commission in many forum had promised to conduct an inclusive Census. A paragraph on its website aptly captures this intention:
“The title ‘Persons living with disability ‘ was replaced with ‘Persons with difficulties in performing certain tasks’ in line with the Washington D.C recommendations. Also, two variables, (Albinos and Speech) have been introduced into the questions.”
In my opinion, this addition is not inclusive enough and will defeat the purpose of the 2023 population and housing Census as stated on your official website: “The development of the 2023 PHC questionnaire had allowed for data collected to be useful for planning with a careful consideration of the burden and time taken to fill the questionnaire by both the enumerator and the respondent.”
Furthermore, “IT IS IMPORTANT FOR CENSUS DATA TO BE COMPARABLE AND COMPATIBLE WITH PREVIOUS CENSUSES AND WITH OTHER DATA PRODUCED BY OTHER STATISTICAL AGENCIES IN NIGERIA and the wider community.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC with the active support of several domestic and international development agencies have done extensive work on the disability clusters in Nigeria to engender inclusivity leading to the current general election.
Some of the clusters from the latest Continuous Voters Registration (June 2021-July 2022) when data on disabilities was collected is reproduced below:
Albinism (21,150); Autism (3,481); Blindness (8,103); Cognitive Learning Disability (1,719); Deafness (6,159); Physical Impediment (13,387); Down Syndrome (660); Little Stature (2,288); Spinal Cord Injury (779) and Others (27,636).
While the figures above only represent a fraction of the actual population of the various clusters in Nigeria, one would expect that the 2023 digital Census would afford us the golden opportunity to get accurate data on the disability community.
Due to the late disability inclusivity initiative, PWDs across the country were frustrated during the elections because the assistive tools are grossly inadequate due to dearth of data for inclusive planning by the electoral umpire.
“Founder/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, TAF Africa, Jake Epelle, while addressing the media PWD Election Hub funded by the European Union, EU, post-election report on presidential and National Assembly elections conducted by INEC, said PWDs were disappointed by INEC after all assurances on giving preference to PWDs and also provision of assistive tools to enable inclusivity in the electoral process, demanded INEC to provide details on provision of assistive tools for PWDs as promised.
TAF Africa deployed 700 election observers across the 774 Local Government Areas, 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Epelle said: “TAF Africa’s observation of the 2023 presidential and national assembly elections has the objective of ascertaining the active and increased participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs), as well as establishing if the election is inclusive, free, fair, credible, and reflects the supremacy of the electorates’ vote.
“Asides from expectations for The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide 21,165 magnifying glasses at 16,071 polling units for persons with albinism and minor visual impairment, 6,167 posters at 5,085 polling units for persons with hearing impairment, and 8,117 braille ballot guide at 5,957 polling unit for the visually impaired across the country, persons with disabilities are supposed to enjoy priority voting, which is their legal right as contained in section 54, sub section 1 & 2 of the electoral act.
“Unfortunately, these expectations were not totally met, and it successfully frustrated the participation of persons with disabilities in the elections” ( From the Vanguard newspaper, March 1, 2023 edition).
Election is just one out of numerous civil rights that PWDs have been grossly disenfranchised. The scale of the problem cannot be quantified in educational, social, health, among other areas of dire neglect of inclusivity. The 2023 Census should help close these gaps not perpetuate the wrongs.
If sustainable data for the development of Nigeria is at the heart of the 2023 Census, then the task of conducting an inclusive Census rest on the shoulders of the NPC in other to aggregate the demographic breakdown of the various clusters in a manner that is compatible for policy intervention and monitoring of development objectives.
Finally, I agree that to be counted in a Census is the only way to be seen and supported.
• Seun Ibukun-Oni is the publisher of DAILY COURIER newspaper. He is a journalist, survey methodologist, and pollster. (You can reach him on 08037998398 or email – email@example.com)