“Census may wait over non provision of budget in 2024”
There are indications that the much awaited 2024 national census may be stalled over non provision of budgetary allocation to the national population commission (NPC) for the purpose in 2024.
Members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations were shocked on Tuesday when informed that there was no provision for the scheduled 2024 population and housing census in the budget proposal for the National Population Commission.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on National Population Commission, Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP Bauchi Central), informed the lawmakers about the development while presenting a report on the NPC 2024 budget to the collating Committee.
He told the committee that if the money for the census was not provided in the budget, the country would lose about N200bn which the National Population Commission has spent.
He, however, disclosed to the committee that NPC would appear on Wednesday with its documentation on how much they need to conduct the 2024 population census.
Ningi said, “They will appear tomorrow (Wednesday) with proper documentation of how much they need. If we don’t get the money, the nation will lose, the people will lose, the money spent on the preparation for the census will go down the drain and it is a humongous amount of money, over N200 billion already spent that is my take.”
Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC Ogun West), assured Ningi that the committee would look for funds to cater for the 2024 population census in the budget.
He added that the head of the agency should appear in the company of the committee chairman to tell them what was needed for the conduct of the census which was scheduled to hold in the first quarter of next year.
Adeola said, “Let me assure you that the country will not lose and we are going to work very closely with them that a 25 per cent component is included, we must find a way to accommodate it in this 2024 budget.
“We would like the agency to appear along with the chairman of the committee, with a synopsis of the idea of what is going on about the issue of the census and whatever the issues are, I can assure you that we will resolve it and the population census will come up by the first quarter of 2024.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on Appropriation has supported the inclusion of the controversial N1bn in the 2024 budget of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
The panel gave the support after receiving the report of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Industry, Trade and Investment on the Ministry’s 2024 budget.
Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Adeola, however, said the federal lawmakers would carry out aggressive oversight to ensure that the fund was appropriately utilised.
A member of the National Assembly standing committee overseeing the affairs of the ministry, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, during the budget defence session, said the ministry planned to spend the money on foreign trips next year.
The Minister, Doris Uzoka-Anite, had explained that the N1bn was for the maintenance of the ministry’s desk office at the World Trade Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.
However, the Chairman of the joint panel on Industry, Trade and Investment, Senator Sadiq Umar, told the appropriation committee on Tuesday, that the money was meant to attract foreign investors across the world to Nigeria.
Umar said, “The N1bn is not for foreign trips. It was meant to attract investors to Nigeria from all over the World.
“We are beginning to think that we need to review our trade interest structuring in the country.
“The government today thinks that we need to strengthen the trade office here.”
Umar added, “However, Mr Chairman, we think that as a committee, we are going to be working with the Minister going forward to see how they make use of the foreign services the best way possible because that is primarily the job of foreign services.
“All the ministers, foreign affairs, ambassadors, their primary job is to be ambassadors for the country as far as trade is concerned.
“So, we are working with the minister and see how this can be integrated and I will ensure that the next offices in the foreign nations are functional.
“They have the trade, they have the capacity they have the understanding and of course, they have the resources to be able to attract investment into our country.”