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Nigerian Official: Census Results Ready


Nigeria's National Population Commission is set to announce results of last March's national census next month. Censuses are controversial in Nigeria and the expected announcement comes at a politically sensitive time for Nigeria.

The census results are expected to put to rest speculations about Nigeria's population.

Regarded as Africa's most populous nation, it relies on estimated figures to determine its actual population. Estimates of Nigeria's population range from 120 million to 160 million.

The census is controversial because rival groups have tried to use their larger population numbers in different districts to claim a larger share of oil revenues and boost their political representation in parliament. Nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups, each demanding a political voice.

More than 1 million officials were involved in the seven-day count. Spokesperson Fati Kadri says the population commission is on the verge of finalizing the tabulation of figures and should be ready to release the results in the next few weeks.

"Between 15 [of November] and end of December, we should expect the results," she said. "We are going to tell the story as it is. We have seven data processing centers all over the country. So, these data processing centers are finishing up and it will now remain information."

With crucial elections billed for next April, the electoral commission, known as INEC, had asked that the release of the census results be delayed until after the polls. The census commission's Kadri says the population agency is not likely to grant that request.

"INEC, that is their own opinion," she added. "But we are guided by our own principles, which we are trying to finish. About that time we would have finished, we would have collated, then why should we be keeping the results? Nigerians should be told what it is."

The census was hampered by attacks on census workers, a lack of registration forms, census officials protesting over salaries and general logistical problems.

The last headcount in 1991 put Nigeria's population at 88.5 million.