Cablegate: Nigeria: Census Delayed Is Census Denied
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS ABUJA 001856
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM EAID KDEM NI CENSUS
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: CENSUS DELAYED IS CENSUS DENIED
REF: (A) ABUJA 1744 (B) LAGOS 1433 AND PREVIOUS
1. (U) As expected, the National Population
Commission (NPC) requested a postponement the national
census, which had been planned for December, explaining
at a September 22 presentation at the Presidential
Villa that there were delays in preparations for the
long-awaited head count. For example, shipments of
census forms were not scheduled to arrive until
December 2005 and January 2006. NPC Chairman Sumaila
Makila also said that training of the approximately one
million census workers would not be completed until
March 2006. Given the logistical problems, President
Obasanjo announced that the census would be held from
March 21-25, 2006, the very end of the upcoming dry
season. After that date, Makila added, no further
delays would be possible because the rains would
prevent field operations.
2. (U) The President went on to warn all the state
Governors (most were present at the Villa) not to
interfere with enumeration, to encourage people to
participate, and to provide all possible logistical
support to the census.
3. (SBU) Comment: The delay in conducting the census
comes as no surprise, considering the controversy
swirling around the head counting exercise (reftels).
The next few months might be spent, in addition to
working out the logistical problems, in persuading the
Nigerian public why an accurate census is needed, in
order to mitigate the constant boycott threats from
multiple ethnic and religious groups. To date, no
effective public relations campaign has been launched.
The census, more than merely the first head count of
Nigerians since the fifties, is a political issue, with
regions, religious, and ethnicities all squaring off to
defend their own interests. But the importance of the
census is more than statistical: an accurate census
could inhibit efforts to manipulate voter registration,
and by extension manipulate the outcome of the 2007
elections. End Comment.