Federal Government will soon enact a law that would govern the conduct of Nigerians for the 2005 National Population and Housing Census scheduled to take place between November and December this year.
Chairman of National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Sam’ila Danko Makama, who stated this at the weekend at the Palace of Ata-Oja of Osogbo, His Royal Highness Oba Iyiola Matanmi, during the first leg of his week-long sensitisation tour of Osun and Oyo states, said the new legislation now in its final stages at the National Assembly will spell out the codes of conduct for officials as well as prescribe punishment for census-related offences.
During the last census exercise in 1991, some provisions of the law promulgated by the then military administration restricted people’s movement for some period of time and spelt out sanctions to be meted out to any person involved in fraudulent activities. Another aspect of the law set out how complaints and protests on the conduct of the census could be addressed.
The chairman said the Census Bill before the National Assembly has taken cognizance of the limitations of the 1991 legislation to bring to tune with prevailing democratic practice in the country.
Makama said President Olusegun Obasanjo in his quest for an accurate, fair and acceptable census has improved the involvement of national and international observers to monitor and supervise the entire exercise.
“In order to infuse more confidence and make the census error proof, the commission has acquired several equipment and instrument, namely, the use of satellite imageries to detect any error in the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) and an automated finger identification system which will check double counting during the census,” he said.
He added that another major innovation to this year’s census is the adoption of modern scientific method of gathering geographical information as GIS and GPS.
Through the use of the technology provided by this equipment, all EAD sketches can be scanned and geo-referenced and preserved for future censuses and surveys, he said.
He said the commission has acquired computer hardware and software and embarked on nation-wide training of staff to improve their technical capacity to collate, process and analyse data within a short period of time.
Speaking on the tension being generated by the on-going enumeration area demarcation, the chairman advised that people should not read unnecessary meaning into the exercise, adding that the outcome of EAD does not exactly translate to a population figure.
He advised Nigerians to avoid the tendency to interfere with the operations of the census project as it would serve as a distraction to the officials and ultimately impact negatively on the whole exercise.