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Ethnicity and religion remains a stumbling block to the success of population census in Nigeria. It is also understood that, the problem was due to inability of the various governments in Nigeria – colonial, post-colonial and military regimes to conduct accurate and reliable head-count. Almost everybody complained seriously against the damage done to   national development. At one time, the problem was one of under-counting, at another time, it was over-counting and most recently, especially from the 1960s till the last census conducted in (2006), it has been a controversy over inflation of census figures. The possible impact of ethnicity and religion towards population census in Nigeria, said to be in different form, negative and positive. The negative aspect, brings about ethnic consciousness, discrimination, corruption, politics of federal character and disunity  to mention but few. 

The above mentioned problem, negatively affect the acceptable and reliable census  figure, positive in the other hand, it is pertinent to note that, ethnicity and religion in reality has its own benefit as a propelling force, at least in the   early history of Nigeria. The practice of religion and ethnicity brings about competition which leads to economic growth in the country. In the cause of this study, I reviewed literature related to the subject. I conducted oral interviews, recalled the activities of the census enumerators during the past and the recently conducted census. I had a chat with National Population Commission, Abakaliki through a mountain of newspaper cuttings, magazines which  formed the basis of my recommendation. I the course of my investigation, I confirmed that census figure in Nigeria were seriously politicised for one reasons or the other. Various government have taken haphazard measures to address the  issue, but it is felt that more could be done in trying to find solution to the  problem. Among the numerous recommendation, it included that government should de-emphasise the use of the number of the  representative in the National Assembly and the Legislative bodies in the sharing of the so called “National cake”.

The principle of equity of the state should be adopted  in order to achieve accurate census figure in Nigeria. The second recommendation also include the use of the churches and organisation so that they will be part of the population census. Finally, National Population Census in Nigeria could be reliable   and accurate head-count, if all the resources at its disposal are mustered and  harnessed and the motive of head-count gears towards national development. To end everything, I plead that any good citizen of Nigeria to carry out this research work over the ethnicity and religion and their possible impact on the national population census from were I stopped, so as to have a reliable and accurate population census in Nigeria





The issue of determining the population of Nigeria has been a very contentious issue since 1866 and establishment of the total population in the country, in each state and local government area  has been mere speculations. The reason for this is not far-fetched. People believed that population is a political weapon. The higher the number, the more government amenities, an area will stand to attract. Higher population figures lend credence among other reasons to the demand for more seats in parliament, more local governments and more states for a particular tribe or region.Therefore, it becomes expedient for people to inflate the figures of their regions and attempt to deflate that of others. These are the reasons behind the tension that have continually trailed Nigeria’s attempt to answer the simple question of “How many are we?, through a population census.

However, emphasis is now being placed on the quality of the population – how the skills and abilities of people can be improved and how their motivations and values can be modified for the specific purpose of development efforts.Population census however plays a conflicting role in the development process. It can act both as a stimulus and an impediment to growth and development. The question remains , at what point do the economic disadvantages begin to outweigh the advantages? In population census, the age distribution and demographic characteristics of a country’s population have a lot to say about the role of population in the developing process. In fact, in developing countries, the problem of population explosion and inherent characteristics of the population have been a source of serious concern for development scholars  as well as statesmen involved in development planning. This problem was first noted by Thomas Malthus in 1798  when he theorised that,  at the growing rate, a point will be reached when the population would outstrip production and supply of food, education, housing, industry, technology and  other facilities to be provided for the people. He is saying that, population census should support the items listed above. Malthus contented that, a developed or development country must plan their population census to accommodate all these national facilities, for it provides these mentioned facilities, for it provides growth and development to the country. He as well noted another population problem, problem of trends and levels in living conditions which in turn help in the development of population policies and targets in respect of manpower development and utilisation conducive to the country’s stage of development.


Adam Smith, he said that population census in developing countries should plan as well to enable the citizens have benefits of transport and communication. “Good roads, channels and navigable rivers”, wrote Adam Smith”, by diminishing the expense of carriage, bring the remote parts of the country nearer and there will be a greatest of all improvements, breaking down monopolies and open new markets. To the extent that population growth exerts pressure on these facilities to be provided, a significant output is to be expected.” Furthermore, with a growing population, investment is less risky. The major obstacles to development to development is not a shortage of saving but a lack of willingness to invest. An  expanding market resulting from population growth provides an incentive to investment.

Planning for development with the aid of population census without the most fundamental fact – the number and characteristics of the people, whose welfare is to be improved an those among this number who must work in all the sectors of the economy, to bring about the much needed development – is tantamount to chasing the shadows.

Various government in Nigeria have carefully observed the characteristics of a population census.

  1. Government responsibility.
  2. Individual enumeration.

But, apart from these painstaking efforts applied, census taking in Nigeria has since its inception suffered from many misconceptions, half truths and myths. Some myths about the population count have their origins in our traditions and religious beliefs or misconceptions about the causes of events around us. There have been public outcry against this turn of events and one would like to ask, what would be done to this ugly situation. It is my view that an in-depth study of the problem with the aim of census problems in Nigeria is real and whether it directly or indirectly affects the development of a country. It is  hoped that the research will go a long way in trying to proffer solution to the problem.




Having given the general introduction to the research  work, it is necessary to define the problem. The task of this study will be to examine the terms “population census” and as well as factors that constitute a problem in national development instead of aiding it. Various efforts by governments and individuals to address the problem will also be examined and recommendations/solutions proffered.



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