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Cablegate: Nigeria: Census Results Not Ready for Primetime

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PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2836/01 3031119
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301119Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7610
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 5397
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RHFMISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP/ASD-HD//
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002836

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W (SILSKI)
USDOC FOR BUREAU OF THE CENSUS: OFFICE OF AFRICA - NIGERIA DESK

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: SOCI KDEM ECON PGOV EAID NI CENSUS
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: CENSUS RESULTS NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME

THIS IS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Nigerian census tabulations are nearly
complete and the GON has said the figures will be unveiled in
December. International monitors reported that donor contributions
have facilitated a census process that was fairly transparent, open
and covered a high percentage of the population. However, more than
80 Nigerian NGOs claimed that the conduct of the census was
disorganized and inefficient. There remains speculation that the
census will be subject to political machinations and will not be
released until after the April 2007 elections. END SUMMARY.

Census Close to Ready?
----------------------

2. (U) Recently, the National Population Council (NPC) held a
"presidential forum for stakeholders on the status of the 2006
census." President Obasanjo, Vice President Abubakar, several
ministers, high-level government officials and a sizeable media
representation attended.

3. (U) The NPC reported that 90 international monitors from 23
countries served as independent sources of information on the census
process and approximately 600 civil society organizations served as
national monitors. The major findings of the international
monitors' report were:
-- Census process was fairly transparent.
-- There was high geographic area and population coverage, up to
95-98% for several states.
-- The NPC was open to media and civil society monitors working to
increase census credibility.
The report recommended raw data collected should be carefully
cleaned and validated using international standards.

Nigerian NGOs Cry Foul
----------------------

4. (SBU) The Civil Society Coalition on Census Monitoring (CSCCM), a
collective effort of 80 NGOs to monitor the census compiled a report
that concluded that the census was disorganized and inefficient.
CSCCM representatives told us that its monitors documented a general
nationwide problem with a lack of materials and or staff at many
locations. Moreover, many people were discouraged from waiting in
long lines, while others could not find people to document them, and
others, hoping to game the system, registered in multiple places.
CSCCM underscored that many people were not counted, and overall,
the 2006 census did not inspire a sufficient level of technical or
political confidence to call it successful.

Census Financial Contributions
------------------------------

5. (U) The NPC reported that 37.8 billion Naira ($290 million) was
allocated for the census with 18.5 billion Naira coming from the
GON, 17 billion Naira from the EU and smaller amounts from other
international donors. The state governments contributed
approximately 520 million Naira in cash and in kind, while local
government councils provided fuel and other logistical support.

Census Ballot Scanning and Editing
---------------------------

6. (U) So far at the seven data processing centers - Lagos, Ibadan,
Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, Yola, and Kano - 99% of the local
government areas (LGAs) have had their ballots scanned, and 89% of
the LGAs have had their ballots edited. Editing for the last LGA
was expected to be completed by October 20. NPC officials noted
that it will take at least 8-10 weeks for data extraction,
tabulation and validation before the initial results will be
unveiled.

Post Enumeration Survey (PES)
-----------------------------

7. (U) In addition to the census, a PES was conducted June 18-26
taking a five percent representative sample drawn from all 774 LGAs.
Initial findings from the EU and NPC monitoring teams suggest the
PES was satisfactorily completed and should help validate the census
results. The NPC expects the PES results to be complete in early

ABUJA 00002836 002 OF 002


December.

Comment
-------

8. (SBU) Assuming the best case scenario, the NPC plans to release
the census in late December. This date is unrealistic based on past
government practices during the holidays when GON offices typically
close up during the holiday period or greatly reduce their
workloads. More likely mid-January would be a realistic time period
for release of the census.

9. (SBU) Another issue is that despite President Obasanjo's
assurances that the census will be transparent and fair, there are
serious reservations among some observers of whether the census will
be unveiled before the April 2007 elections. These observers
speculate that it does not serve the President's interest to have
census results unveiled before the elections. If census results are
released, the data is likely to be inconsistent with voter
registration information and lead to outcries from communities that
are undercounted.

CAMPBELL

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