- As Customs restricts rice import in free trade zones
The proposed 2018 national population census will cost an estimated N272 billion, the Director-General of the National Population Commission (NPC), Dr Ghaji Bello, has said.
Bello told a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that the Federal Government was expected to fund the exercise by only 51 per cent while the international donor community would fund the remaining 49 per cent.
“The submission we have made to the Federal Government is in the region of N272 billion. But the good thing is that that the N272 billion is not for one single year.
“It is spread along a four-year tenure. There’s pre-census activities, that is the preparation; the actual census proper itself and the post-census enumeration activities.
“So maybe you are looking at an average of maybe N40 billion in the first year, another N100 billion during the actual census itself and then the balance during the last year.
“But the beauty again is that not all the resources are normally provided by the government of the federation.
“The international community does come in and supporters like EU, USAID ; from the previous record that we have, the ratio is 51 to 49 per cent.
“The 51 per cent is provided by the Federal Government while the 49 per cent is provided by the international donor community.
“Therefore, it is something that once government makes a proclamation, then it means that the country is ready and the international community will come and support the government,” he said.
Bello also said there was the need for the government to leverage on the international community to help with the necessary assistance, adding that this would go a long way in defraying the cost.
“Normally, there is no country that does census on its own and more so, it is a very capital-intensive activity. Funding is important because we have to demarcate.
“There is an exercise that is called Enumeration Area Demarcation which is supposed to be the foundation or the building block of census.
“And that is supposed to be carried out in every hamlet, every village, every local government, every household and then the entire nation.
“That is normally a costly exercise, very expensive. And of course, up till now we have only been able to do 74 local governments out of 774.
“It means we have done only 10 per cent. So for us to be able to do the remaining 700 local governments, it means there is a lot of work to do.
“Essentially we are on track; we have the capacity in-house but again there are quite a number of things, unless you are funded, you won’t be able to move forward,’’ Bello said.
According to him, census will enable the government to have correct data about its citizens in order to aid proper planning.
“ That planning means you are going to optimise in terms of your allocation of resources to those sectors that really need that intervention.
“Census has implication for trade, for manufacturing and for security because we will have the biometrics of every Nigerian.
“Then it means making life easy for security outfits like the police, EFCC, ICPC and the military because you can monitor even the scene of crime from the data that you have collected.
“So serious countries actually collect data and it is the data that they use in order to govern their society,” he said.
In the meantime, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), has restricted rice import in trade free zones.
Public Relations Officer of the service, Mr. Joseph Attah, made this known to reporters in Abuja at the weekend.
He said the restriction became necessary because some operators were taking undue advantage of the trade zone, which allows them to import some quantity of rice.
“So, if we block the land borders and allow operators of free trade zone to bring in rice through the seaports, then our efforts at the land borders will be in vain,” he said.
He said smuggling is a crime like armed robbery,, urging Nigerians to treat it so.
On efforts by the NCS in tackling smuggling, Attah said: “We have the commands covering those border lines. We also have the federal operation units that cover these land borders and to build another layer of policing, we have what we call the compliance team.
“It might interest you to know that this compliance team headed by an Assistant Comptroller, Musa Jalo, made a total of 921 seizures with a duty paid value of over N1billion. Most of these seizures are rice and vehicles.
NAN with additional report from Nation