A Pan Socio-political Group, Afenifere, has risen against the conduct of the 2023 National Census, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to put the headcount on hold.
Afenifere also charged the judiciary to ensure quick resolution of all petitions arising from the Presidential Election before the expiration of the Buhari-led administration.
The group made the disclosure in a communique issued and signed by Afenifere’s National Leader, Ayo Adebanjo and its Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni after a general meeting which held at Isanya Ogbo, Ogun State.
Afenifere expressed concerns over a whopping sum of over N100 billion allegedly allocated for the national census, which it described as wasteful and an economic offence.
“Afenifere bemoans the unthinkable insistence of the Buhari administration in conducting the 2023 National Census in spite of the objective realities which make such an important national exercise most inauspicious in timing and impossible in credible implementation.
“Afenifere recalls that in a paper itv presented at the National Consultative Forum on the 2023 census, held at the Banquet Hall, State House Abuja, on the 11th of August, 2022, it reiterated the imperative of census in national development, noting that the application and misuse of census data had been our bane as a country where we lie to ourselves and the world about our number, indulging in laughable projections sometimes based on assumed and fixed percentage of population growth across different parts notwithstanding glaring variables.
“It is in the light of the importance of credible exercise that, in the August 2022 conference, we strongly advised against the conduct of the census which, among other reasons, we said could not possibly hold in the same year of a general election.
“Other well-meaning personalities and institutions including the UNFPA Resident Representative in Nigeria, who at another conference in Port Harcourt on the 26th-29th March, 2023 and most recently the Methodist Church Nigeria, Diocese of Calabar which all have raised concerns on the possibility of reasonable and genuine participation in an acceptable headcount in the current mood of the nation.
“That Afenifere is particularly bemused that government expects participation in headcount by citizens still incensed and distraught by the trauma of violence and brigandage of the election or by those in IDP camps within their country in whose ancestral homes terrorists in occupation will now be counted as new indigenes
“That all factors considered, including its inability to supervise a transparent electoral process, a lesser headcount exercise, the integrity deficiency of this administration is abysmally compounded in conducting census which partisan disputes in Nigeria is often at the level of communities, states and ethnic nationalities having been politicised over time,” the statement read in part.
Afenifere charged the judiciary to act swiftly in sorting out all petitions linked with the Presidential Election before the exit of the Buhari-led administration as the only way to earn the confidence of Nigerians.
It noted that less endowed countries had laid precedents in this regard.
Reacting to President Buhari’s request for forgiveness by those he might have hurt in the course of his services to Nigeria, Afenifere said such request should be directed to Nigerians who had for the past eight years been subjected to pervading insecurity and marooned in economic quagmire.