NATIONAL POPULATION COMMISSION
REJOINDER: 2023 CENSUS WILL NOT CANVASS QUESTIONS ON RELIGION
The attention of the National Population Commission has been drawn to a misleading WhatsApp message which claimed that the next Population and Housing Census will canvass questions on religion. The message alleged that there are some parts (of the questionnaire) where respondents are required to tick their religion however, Islamic religion has been divided into (sects) while Christianity has not, the objective, as alleged, is to show that Muslims “are small in the country.”
The fabricated message urged Muslims in Nigeria to see the population census as a tool to suppress them and their faith through the reduction of their numerical strength and to resist any attempt to divide the religion of Islam by refusing to answer any question on religion.
A fact check on the origin of the purported message shows that it was first circulated in Ghana during its last population census exercise. The circulation of the message few days into the conduct of the current Trial Census fieldwork nationwide is deliberately timed to sow disaffection among the major religious groups in the country.
For the avoidance of doubt, the 2023 Census and the ongoing Trial Census, like previous censuses of 1991 and 2006, have no questions on religion and ethnicity. This decision was reached after extensive consultation with stakeholders taking into consideration the sensitive nature of these two issues in Nigeria. Religion and ethnicity, unarguably, are important indices in the demographics of any country.
But due to the volatile nature of these items in our national discourse, it was agreed that religion and ethnicity should not be included in the Census questionnaire in order to insulate the census process and outcomes from unnecessary controversies.
The Commission calls on all to disregard the fake and misleading message which is clearly the antics of mischief makers. We urge the general public to cooperate with our enumerators to ensure a successful Trial Census exercise in our quest to deliver to the country a credible, reliable and acceptable census.
For accurate information, inquiries and complaints regarding the Trial Census and the 2023 Population and Housing Census, the public should kindly contact our call center on 0700 023 6787 or through our social media platforms.
Isiaka Yahaya, Ph.D
Director, Public Affairs
16th July, 2022