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As a complete departure from the 2006 census exercise, the National Population Commission (NPC) yesterday said it would ensure that biometric, digital satellite and other information and communication technology (ICT) facilities are deployed in 2016 census in order to avoid loopholes and controversies in previous exercises.
The Chairman of the commission, Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), explained in Abuja that this had become expedient in order to use such equipment to facilitate a smooth conduct of the census that is accurate, reliable and devoid of controversies.
On the imperative of conducting the 2016 National Population Census, Duruiheoma stated that: "What is needed is strategic architecture, cutting-edge ICT facilities, biometrics and satellite which will be able to capture human imageries."
He observed that "in line with international standard, only the conduct of a national population census in 2016 will consolidate the impressive legacies which the nation laid through the historic conduct of the 2006 population and housing census.
"New technology that will ensure that the returns are quickly captured, processed and analysed have been introduced. The vision of the commission is a vital registration system that will automatically update the population data within the inter-census period through regular and continuous capture of the changes in the population profile through births and deaths."
The NPC chairman though acknowledged the insecurity challenges in the country, mostly, the North-east, "it is of the firm belief that the challenges are not enough to put development planning on hold, which will be affected by the lack of census data on hold, these challenges are not enough reasons to throw away what the nation has gained through regular conduct of census."
Duruiheoma also informed journalists that though the commission was still looking at the total cost of the conduct of the census, "the estimate at the moment is N100 billion, realistic for the exercise, which will be tremendous in assisting in the conduct of 2016 census," he said.
Also, a Federal Commissioner with the commission, Dr. Festus Uzor, maintained that the usage of digital satellite images of 0.5 metre would be able captured everybody in the country, "nobody will be omitted" he added.
The NPC further clarified the issue of the presidential proclamation by President Goodluck Jonathan to pursue the 2016 census.
According to the country officials, "the issue of proclamation is not a problem yet."
On the controversy bordering on the inclusion of religion and ethnicity, the commission contended that such items would be included if the generality of Nigerians support the idea.