The Federal Government may lose over N400 billion if the technical equipment and accessories procured by the National Population Commission are allowed to waste in warehouses spread in 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja investigations show.
The census materials were supplied to the NPC about a year ago nationwide in readiness for the 2023 census.
But they have continued to gather dust in facilities of the NPC nationwide.
A senior officer at the NPC confided in our reporter that the contractors were put under pressure to meet deadlines allotted to them, which they did, but regretted that after the tech equipment was supplied, the census was postponed.
Investigations showed that President Muhammadu Buhari had wanted to ensure the conduct of the population and housing census as one of his legacy projects before leaving office, but some factors, chief of which was the transitional plans to a new government, which culminated in the 2023 general election, coalesced to push the census to a future date.
Recall that President Buhari in preparation for the census had dubbed it the nation’s first ever “digital census” because of the heavy deployment of technology to organise what many believed would be the most credible census in the country’s annals.
Technical evaluation indicates that most of the equipment may go bad due to humidity and lack of use as they may not have been stored in the best conditions that would guarantee their durability and effectiveness over a long period. Some devices namely laptops and other handhelds have been known to malfunction when stored in a humid environment on account of heat and poor aeration.
Our checks at NPC offices showed that some of the equipment procured for the census, some of which have not been fully paid for, but supplied, include tablets, batteries, power-banks and first aid materials.
While some of the first aid materials could expire before any new census date is fixed, the motherboards inside the tablets could go bad if the humidity in the storage facilities exceeds a certain threshold, experts say.
Opinion poll conducted by our reporters across the nation showed that Nigerians strongly desire to have accurate census figures and credible demographics about their country as many said they have no confidence in the estimated figure being quoted in the last 18 years. Nigeria had her last census in 2006.
Respondents in the poll want President Bola Tinubu to make the conduct of the “digital census” a priority of his government as both indigenous and international investors are worried about the lack of reliable data on Nigeria.