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This project titled “Evaluation of the 2006 National Population Census and Economic Development in Ebonyi State: A study of Abakaliki Local Government Area” was aimed at examining the extent to which the national population census conducted in Nigeria has served as a veritable tool for economic development, understanding the factors that hinder the use of the 2006 national population census in achieving economic development in Ebonyi State among others.

This study was motivated by the inability of the government to use census to achieve the needed economic development over the years. The Ecology of Development Administration theory propounded by Fredrick W. Riggs in 1964 was adopted to guide the study. A descriptive survey design was adopted to study a population of 197237 which was reduced to a sample size of 399 using Taro Yamene’s formula. Simple sampling, stratified sampling and purposive sampling techniques were used. Data were collected from primary and secondary sources.

Questionnaire instrument was used for data collection. While frequency distribution tables and simple percentage method were applied for data analysis and chi-square tool was used for test of hypotheses. This study revealed that national population census has significantly contributed to economic development in Ebonyi State, there are several factors hindering the use of the 2006 national population census in achieving economic development in Ebonyi State among others.

The implication is that if accurate census is conducted in Nigeria, it will promote economic development hence, the study recommended that government should ensure accurate census in Nigeria, government should utilize the statistical data provided by national population census in economic development among others.





  • Background of the Study

Over the years, population which according to Abati (2006:5) is defined as “the total number of people living within a geographical area or country at a particular time” has attracted a lot of attention in the academic and policy environments. This is because, a successful census or head count is a thing of joy and pride to any country bearing in mind that, it is a determining factor towards the overall development of such nation.

Inspite of its great importance little or no attention has been given to it by most third world countries which Nigeria is one (Egwu, 2014). In advanced countries of the world, the government and the governed are partners in progress in the task to ensure proper and accurate census for their countries. Thus, the Library of Congress (1999) cited in Nwode (2012.20) stated that “it is a re-current fact that political, social and economic factors have influenced the success of census exercise in Nigeria over the years”.

However, the first documented census in the entity called Nigeria was conducted by the British in 1866 (Omonjo, 2006). This happened the first five years after the annexation of Lagos. He further stated that this was consequently followed by other census exercises in 1871, 1896, 1901, 1911 and 1921 which were all conducted in the southern protectorate.

According to Egwu (2014) citing PAN (1999) all the census taken before 1921 were necessarily limited to a few parts of the country, the history of the census at this time shows that it has not been easy at any time to get an accurate number of people in a country. It is worthy to note that in a future-minded country like Nigeria, the importance of census cannot be taken with levity especially as it is a way to achieve sustainable economic growth and provision of quality social services.

Furthermore, the first census attempt that included the northern protectorate was conducted in 1952. This attempt according to Abati (2006) yielded a total population figure of 31.6 million people within the current boundaries of the country as at that time. He further noted that the 1952 census of Nigeria indicated that the Hausa-Fulani had the largest share of the population, and so, they dominated the first post-colonial government set up after independence in 1960 consequently, the newly independent nation ordered a census to be taken in 1962, but the result showed that northerners accounts for only 30 percent of the population.

Similarly, a recount in 1963 census was the first after Nigeria’s independence to give an officially recognized result a total of 55.6 million; this was widely thought to be substantial overstatement (Okolo, 1999). This exacerbated the underling ethnic tensions culminating in the Nigerian civil war which ended in 1970 (weeks 2008).

A census in 1973 was never accepted by the government until another census was held in 1991 which gave the official census figure of 88.5 million people (Okolo, 1999). However, Okeibunor (1995) in Egwu (2014) wrote that the 1991 census was subjected to serious controversies as accusation and counter accusations were made about falsification and inflation of figures. Further, he stated that the reported sex ratio of 107.3 was contested as it was found to defy world standard and expectations. There were complaints of undercounting and over counting, and even manipulation of figures with the torrents of complaints and even reflections that trailed the current figures.

After a number of postponements latest census was taken in March, 2006. The 2006 National census in Nigeria is the 13th attempt according to Omonjo (2006) at getting the accurate population of the people. The census put the population at 140 million. The goals of the 2006 census held between March 21 to 26 include the following (www.population.gov.ng):

  • To achieve sustainable economic growth, poverty eradication and provision of social services.
  • To improve the productive health of all Nigerians at every stage of their life cycle.
  • To achieve a balance between population growth rate and available resources.
  • To accelerate the response to HIV/AIDS, epidemics and other related health issues.
  • To achieve a balanced and integrated urban rural development.

More so, several reasons account for population census in a country. In view of this, Egwu (2014) opined that the reasons for taking a census differ with the need of the countries involved, but basically, the reasons for census includes that it helps among other things to enable planners, policy makers, the government and the public to know the number of people they are planning for, which will ultimately lead to social and economic development.

In his own opinion, Abati (2006:8) opines that,” the major reasons for national census is to provide answers to the following issues: the total population of the country, the age of the population in urban and rural area, the percentage of the population of children under 18, youth between 18 and 35, the productive workforce, the aged above 65, the level of employment, unemployment and occupations. These information will enable the government and policy makers to realistically plan for the allocation of the nation’s resources and to determine the direction of the country’s population growth.

Notwithstanding, census has been of immense contribution to the nation’s economy in general, Ebonyi state’s economy and Abakaliki local government’s economy in particular. For instance, one of the principles of revenue allocation in Nigeria is the population principle in which states and local governments with higher population get higher share of the nation’s resources, such data is gotten from census exercise.

Arguing further, Oduge (2010) asserted that census has contributed to the nation’s economy in several ways: it  has helped in determining the size and rate of growth of the population which consequently helps the government in determining whether the existing facilities for education, housing, transport, health, etc are enough for the population or not.

It has assisted in determining how many of such facilities are required to meet exiting and future demands. Census has over the years also contributed to the nations, Ebonyi State’s and Abakaliki local government’s economy through the provision of adequate and relevant statistics which serve as basis for allocation of seats in the national assembly, constituency delimitation and economic planning.

Such data include the size, composition and distribution of population both in occupational and geographical areas for development planning and improved standard of living. Similarly, developing countries use population figures to attract foreign aid again. Foreign investors look for countries and states with large potential markets for their goods and services. Finally, it also constitutes in determining per capital income of the country, Ebonyi State and Abakaliki local government in particular.

Despite the lofty ideals behind the conduct of 2006 National census, it is unfortunate and regrettable that many Nigerians still perceive census as an avenue to manipulate election results and attract large proportion of allocation to their area through the manipulation of census figures.

In view of this, Abati (2006:34) describes the 2006 national census as sheer “robbery”, robbery of time, resources, funds, emotion, expectations and a complete abuse of privilege. In a similar perspective, Omonjo (2006) described the 2006 national census as being designed to be another fraud in the nation to sustain a lie. The failure to get the accurate population figure of Nigeria irrespective of the various census including the 2006 census is attributed to what Abati (2006:34) called “a comedy of error”. He want further to state that when error is committed, the attempt that are made to correct it turns into yet another error, and so, we are confronted with a hale of mirror in which one error reflects the other interminably; thus, offering us an unsavouring picture of our circumstances.

Moreover, experience of the 2006 census exercise in Ebonyi State reveals that there were a lot of irregularities especially those recorded in seven (7) local governments of the state. Thus according to Idike and Eme (2015:60), “in Ebonyi state, the census tribunal sitting in Abuja nullified the 2006 census enumeration figures of seven local government area as declared by the National population commission (NPC)”.

They further stated that “the affected local government areas include Afikpo North, Afikpo South, Ezza South, Ikwo, Ishielu, Ivo and Onicha Local Government Areas”. This according to them followed the reports from many communities, stating that their households were not counted. In the released figures, Afikpo North and Afikpo South were said to be 156, 649 and 157, 542 respectively, Ezza South; 133, 654,   Ikwo, 214, 969, Ishielu; 152, 581 Ivo; 121, 263 and Onicha; 234,609 (Idike and Eme, 2015).

Furthermore, there were cases of reported late return of enumerators and materials in some parts of the state especially the rural localities. According to Idike and Eme (2015:62) “ Abakaliki local government area for instance which is situated at states capital witnessed several challenges like late return of census materials and enumerators, double counting as well as gross under counting”. However, the 2006 census put the population of Ebonyi State at 2,173,501 whereas population of Abakaliki Local Government Area was put at 149,683, Ezza North: 127, 226 and Ohaukwu; 195, 555 (Idike and Eme, 2015).

Notwithstanding, the 2006 census in Ebonyi State was of immense benefit to the state in general and the various local government areas. Some of the most significant gains of this census to the state according Egwu (2014) is the increased revenue allocation to the state from federation account, statistics for planning and forecasting by the state government for equitable provision of basic amenities to the various local government areas on the basis of their population among others. The same thing goes with the various local governments including Abakaliki Local Government Area.

  • Statement Of The Problem

The outcome of a successful census is indispensable to the Nation’s quest for sustainable development. Regrettably, inspite of economic planning, Nigeria has not been able to sustain the conduct of census at required regular intervals. Even the ones conducted whether in the colonial or the post-colonial era, were characterized by false information/figures instead of seeing head count as one of the perquisites for ensuring the growth of the country, it is rather seen as an opportunity to outdo one another over numerical strength with desire to retain undue political advantage(Idike and Eme, 2015). This could be proven by the way the 2006 national census was conducted and the controversies that followed after the declaration of the result.

Also, public outcry and utterances of well meaning Nigerians bore eloquent testimony to the fact that the 2006 census was a failure. Tracing the possible causes of this menace, Shekarau (2006:21) wrote that “the quest for an accurate population figure from the start was traceable principally to logistics problems”. According to him, up till 21st March, 2006 evening, a day before the exercise, census enumerators and supervisors were still bickering with the state National population Commission (NPC) officials over non-payment of their allowances.

In some states, the census material arrived late, thereby delaying the deployment of the officers. Corroborating the view above, Abati (2006:21) noted that “in Oshodi/Isolo local government council at Lagos State, counting started late in some enumeration areas and did not take place in most others”. The coordinators and supervisors lamented that the first day of the five days census exercise was used in the distribution of material (Abati, 2006). Owing to this, there were complaints that the distribution ought to have been completed three days before the actual head count. All these were hindrances to successful head count. Hence, Olumide (2006:14) commenting on the issues noted that the government should desist from using novices for and important exercise like the census. If this persists, it is very likely to frustrate the country’s efforts towards having accurate census.


Therefore, the inability of the government to use census to achieve the needed economic development over the years necessitated this research. Based on the foregoing, the researcher possed the following question that guided the study:

  • To what extent has the national population census conducted in Nigeria served as a veritable tool for economic development?
  • What factors hindered the use of the 2006 national population census in achieving economic development in Ebonyi State?
  • To what extent has the standard of living of the people improved as a result of national population census in Abakaliki Local Government Area?
    • Objectives Of The Study

The broad objective of the study was to evaluate the contribution of the 2006 National population census to the economic development of Ebonyi State. The specific objectives of this study included:

  • To examine the extent to which the national population census conducted in Nigeria serve as a veritable tool for economic development.
  • To understand the factors that hinder the use of the 2006 national population census in achieving economic development in Ebonyi State.
  • To evaluate the extent to which the standard of living of the people improved as a result of national population census in Abakaliki Local Government Area.
    • Research Hypotheses

Based on the foregoing, the following hypotheses were formulated that guided the study:

HA1: The national population census conducted in Nigeria has significantly served as a veritable tool for economic development.

HO1: The national population census conducted in Nigeria has not significantly served as a veritable tool economic development.

HA2: There are several factors that hinder the use of 2006 national population census in achieving economic development in Ebonyi State.

Ho2: There are no factors that hinder the use of the 2006 national population census in achieving economic development in Ebonyi State.

HA3: The standard of living of the people has significantly improved as a result of national population census in Abakaliki Local Government Area.

H03: The standard of living of the people has not significantly improved as a result of national population census in Abakaliki Local Government Area.

  • Significance Of The Study

The relevance of this work cannot be over emphasized since it is aimed at x-raying the 2006 national census in Nigeria and the possible benefits accruing from it. The study would also bring to the fore the problems that militated against the census exercise in order to reveal the best way other successive census could be conducted to achieved the desired goal.

In the same vein, this research will serve as a veritable reference material at the disposal of students and researchers in the course of their learning and research respectively in areas related to the present topic of discourse.

Also, this study will as well be highly relevant to the public in understanding and appreciating the role of population census in national economic development and the need to ensure honesty in the course of census exercise.

Finally, to the researcher, this study will enable him understand the nature of population census in Nigeria and its relevance in national economic development including the factors challenging the exercise.

  • Scope And Limitations Of The Study

This work covered the 2016 national population census and its contributions to economic development in Ebonyi State with specific reference to Abakaliki Local Government Area. More so, this study examined the meaning and origin of population census in Nigeria as well as the controversies over the 2006 national population census result.

However, several factors acted as limitations to the quality and quantity of this study. The first major challenge was finance in which owing to various demands craving for financial attention of the researcher, the financial resources at the disposal of the researcher was limited hence; this affected the scope of this study. The researcher was able to overcome this challenge through borrowing from friend and relations to ensure that this work saw the light of the day.

Also, the limited time given for the completion of this research was another limitation. This is because; the semester work had run concurrently with the period for this research hence, the researcher had to embark on effective use of time including limiting himself from other personal engagement to ensure that this research was a success.

Finally, the dearth of well researched materials in the 2006 national population census and its contribution to economic development in Ebonyi State was another limiting factor, consequently, the researcher relied on few materials gotten from journals, magazines, newspapers and internet materials to ensure that this study saw the light of the day

  • Theoretical Framework

This study is built on the theory of Ecology of Development Administration Prounded by Fredrick. W. Riggs in 1968, leader of the Comparative Administration Group (CAG), who established the framework upon which intellectual discussions on development administration were based after elaborate and abundant field experiences in the masterpieces “Public Administration in Developing Countries, the Theory of Prismatic Society”.

The theory states that the relationship between administrative system and their environment is analogous with the symbiotic relationship between living organisms and their environments as are systematically demonstrated in the biological sciences. The hallmark of their contention is that administrative system can be better understood if the surrounding conditions, influences and forces that come into their shaping and modifications are identified and classified in relation to their relative importance.

The theory also posited that in prismatic societies like Nigeria there is often a high incidence of nepotism, favouritism and poly communalism. Public official owe allegiance not only to the rule but also to other exogenous forces including his (extended) family, sectional interests that place mandatory demands on him and his official position. Riggs described this circumstance as the bazaar canteen model. He further stated that, it is the reason why the administrative systems of developing (prismatic) societies are grossly inefficient and ineffective. And so, until Nigeria is developed, the implementation of its policies and programs including the census enumeration and the achievement of the desired goals will continue to be a far fetched and a mirage.

  • Operationalization Of the key Concepts
  • Enumeration: Enumeration is the process of interviewing all the members of a given population and collecting socio-demographic and other information about each person.
  • Population and housing census: it is defined as the total process of collecting, compiling, analyzing, evaluating, publishing and disseminating demographic, economic, social and housing data pertaining at a specified time to all person and all buildings in a country or in a well delineated part.
  • Census figure: This is the end figures or result of head count, whether it is the correct figure or falsified result.
  • Enumerators: They are the trained adhoc staff for the purpose of the head count of the population.
  • Head count: The official simultaneous recording of demographic data by government in a giving geographical area at a particular point in time.
  • Household: A house consist of a person or a group of person living together usually under the same roof or in the same building or compound, who share the same source of food and recognize themselves as a social unit with a head of the household.
  • Under count: A situation where the number of heads counted is far below the actual number of people in the enumeration area, it could be a deliberate act or act of omission.
  • Over count: Here, the number of counts is far above the actual population of people in the area.
  • Economic development: This is a qualitative and quantitative transformation of the entire economic system to ensure the general well being of the entire population.


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