Mr. Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Heirs Holdings Group, Transnational Corporation Plc, and Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, delivered a powerful message at the Nigerian Government High-Level Donor Engagement on Nigeria’s 2023 Housing and Population Census.
During his remarks, Mr. Elumelu commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his administration’s commitment to conducting the census, which he said was critical to Nigeria’s future. He noted that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with an estimated population of over 200 million people and projected to grow to 450 million by 2050, which could make it the third most populous country in the world.
- “The upcoming census is a significant milestone in Nigeria’s development, as it provides an opportunity to collect accurate and reliable data on the country’s population and housing, which will serve as a vital tool for policymakers, private sector actors, and civil society organizations,” said Mr. Elumelu.
He emphasized the importance of credible demographic data, saying that it is “of profound importance for the public and private sectors alike. We all know we live in a data-driven world.” As a private sector leader with investments in key sectors of the Nigerian economy, Mr. Elumelu understands the value and importance of available, accessible, and accurate data in making informed decisions and driving development.
However, Mr. Elumelu also pointed out that census figures and population distribution have unfortunately become politicized in Nigeria, with ramifications for revenue allocation, office allotment, legislative power, and even elections. He called for a credible and extensive population enumeration exercise that meets the public’s acceptability criteria, which include being credible, transparent, verifiable, accessible, and having universal coverage.
- “The government’s decision to collaborate with critical stakeholders in the census is a positive step towards achieving a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of our nation’s demographics,” said Mr. Elumelu. He urged the National Population Commission to leverage technology as much as possible to reduce human errors and demonstrate transparency and credibility.
- “I will conclude by reiterating the private sector and African development organization’s readiness to support this most important process. We believe that by working together, we can achieve our shared goal of obtaining high-quality data that will inform evidence-based decision-making and positively impact our nation’s development,” said Mr. Elumelu.
Mr. Elumelu prayed for a peaceful and successful exercise and an outcome that is credible and widely accepted. “Nigeria is our home, and it’s our duty to continually contribute to the sustainable development of the country not just for ourselves but also for the future generations yet to come,” he said.