The 2023 Population and Housing Census, which is planned to begin in May 2023, has been made public by the National Population Commission (NPC), and it will not include a question on religious affiliation.
The commission said that it had been made aware of an audio recording that was spreading like wildfire over the nation’s WhatsApp social media network and claimed that the 2023 Population and Housing Census will ask respondents about their religious affiliations.
Isiaka Yahaya, Ph.D., the Director of Public Affairs for the Commission, said that an audio cassette urged Nigerian Muslims to see the alleged collection of information about their religious affiliations as a weapon to stifle their population numbers. As a result, it gave followers of the Islamic faith instructions to rebuff any efforts to split Islam by refusing to provide any information about their religious allegiance.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission wants to make it clear that the 2023 Population and Housing Census will not ask respondents about their religion or their allegiance with a particular faith.
“The decision to leave religion and ethnicity off the census questionnaire was made after giving careful thought to how important these topics are in Nigerian politics and the necessity to protect the census data from unwarranted controversy and attention.
“A fact check on the supposed message’s origin reveals that a Whatsapp message was used to spread it in Ghana during the country’s 2021 population count. As the Commission carried out the Trial Census in July 2022, this unfavorable message entered the Nigerian social media sphere. The message’s re-distribution in audio format as the Commission prepares to conduct the 2023 Population and Housing Census in May 2023 is a sign that some individuals are determined to use the census to stir up unwarranted controversies by disseminating untruths and inciting a portion of the population to disrupt the nation’s current peaceful coexistence.
The questions to be asked in the next census were developed by the Commission after considerable consultation with data consumers and stakeholders. The questionnaire’s main objective is to gather information that will aid in sustainable development. The questionnaire is thorough and asks about respondents’ demographics and other socioeconomic factors, but it asks nothing about their religion or race.
For the purpose of delivering a credible, reliable, and acceptable 2023 Population and Housing Census data for national development, he said, “Members of the general public are enjoined to disregard the rumor of question on religious affiliation contained in the audio tape in circulation and extend maximum cooperation to the enumerators.
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