Without gathering statistics about the number of people living in a place at the particular period of time, it will be impossible to compare socio-cultural, economic, social and demographic changes. Moreover, it will be impossible to estimate the level of life in the country and make forecasts about the perspective of national development and national population growth. Read on to learn more about the history of population census in Nigeria
History of national population census in Nigeria
The history of census in Nigeria can be divided into two parts: the pre-independence (colonial) and post-independence census eras.
In the pre-independence time, the first organization similar to the modern Nigeria bureau of statistics started in 1866. This census took place every ten years at the beginning of a new decade: 1871, 1881, 1891, and 1901.
The Nigeria population census of 1911 was more difficult than the previous ones because five years before the census (in 1906) Lord Lugard united the Lagos colony with Southern Nigeria protectorate into Nigeria. The main counting took place only in the Southern protectorate, and the rest territories were explored partially, so that year population census was inaccurate.
The first more or less reliable enumeration was conducted in 1921 under the surveillance of Sir Hugh Clifford as Governor General. The enumeration was divided into two parts: the township census (counted the residents of the towns) and provincial census (in the other territories on Nigeria). The township census was conducted within one day and gave accurate results particularly in comparison with provincial one. The matter is that provincial census took more time (more than two months) and it was based on tax records of the residents. However, many tax evaders were nor taken into account, and this part of the census was not entirely accurate.
During 1929-1931 the enumeration was completely inaccurate because of the economic depression and numerous tax riots in Aba, Onitsha, and Owerri. The census took place predominantly in Lagos and its outskirts. Ten years later at the beginning of a new decade in 1941, the census did not take place because of the Second World War.
The first well planned and more or less modern census in Nigeria took place only in the 1950s, in more than 80 years after the first enumeration of the population! It took about three years for Sir John Macpherson as Governor General to control the enumeration in four parts of the country: in the Lagos colony, in the Northern Region, in the Western and Mid-western Region and the Eastern region. But this census was the beginning of ethnicization of the population in Nigeria.
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Speaking about politicization and nationalization of the Nigerians – this phenomenon led to the first election in the country in the era of Nigerian post-independence. Tafawa Balewa became the Prime Minister after the elections and in 1962, a new census of the Nigerian population was conducted. But the results were rejected and considered incorrect, so, soon afterward, a new enumeration took place in 1963. This time the results were accepted by the government, but still rejected by the regions. In 1973, a new attempt to count the population took place. The results were not published, but it was the first time when homeless people were taken into account and census became more detailed at last.
In 1989, after a number of not very successful efforts to conduct the census, the government felt the need in creating the National population commission. Only in ten years after the emergence of the commission, the first reliable, scientific and generally accepted census took place. The commission divided the country into zones and created local government areas to replace the state to make the monitoring a little bit easier, they used mapping and studied ethnical and territorial borders in a more detailed way.
In 2006, the commission contributed to the deployment of GPS and satellite imagery to create and depict Geo-Referenced Enumeration Areas. It was the first time in Nigeria that machinery was used for ethnical and scientific research of the Nigerian population in the independent state.
It can be observed that from the first census till today, the population of Nigeria is only growing. For comparison, during the first population enumerations, the number of people varied from 40,000,000 to 60,000,000. Closer to the modern times and more detailed enumerations, the population grew to over 100,000,000.
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When was the last census in Nigeria?
The United Nations recommended going on conducting the census every ten years using emerging contemporary technologies for getting more detailed, accurate and precise results.
The last detailed census in Nigeria was in 2006, and it stated that there were 140,003,542 people in Nigeria (the information according to www.nigerianmuse.com). Now, it is estimated that about 198,137,000 people live in Nigeria according to www.worldometers.info. It is 2.57% of the total world population.
Today the population of Nigeria is constantly growing, and we expect over 200,000,000 people by the next official census.
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