Population Census In Nigeria

Population Census

Nigeria has conducted several census exercises at different times in 1953, 1973, 1991 and 2006. Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of the most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency. Some of these census exercises have been termed inaccurate; the 1953 census gave Nigeria’s population as 31.12 million and it also led to a major crisis in the nation. 1973 census was rejected by some critics. In 1991, Nigeria’s population was said to have reached 88 million, while the 2006 census gave Nigeria’s population a figure of about 140 million.

According to Worldometers, the current population of Nigeria is 198,723,567 as of Thursday, January 24, 2019, based on the latest United Nations estimates. Nigeria population is equivalent to 2.6% of the total world population.

Nigeria’s population has always been referred to as fictitious due to many factors such as:

  • Political considerations
  • Ethnic considerations
  • Sex or gender issues
  • Religious considerations
  1. Political considerations are mostly based on the economic gains that are attached; the higher the population of a given local area or state, the more the funds such an area will receive from government. This makes the people inflate population figures.
  2. Ethnic considerations are based on the assumed supremacy of a certain ethnic group’s population over another. Some ethnic groups try to prove that they are superior to others.
  3. Sex or gender issues are related to the questions of whether there are more males or females (or vice versa) in a particular location.
  4. Religious considerations are related to the strength of a particular religious group over the others. Some religious groups may want to inflate to show that their members are more than that of other group.

These and many other factors hinder the emergence of an actual figure after population census in Nigeria, as against the importance of census as seen in other parts of the world.


Population is the number of people living in a particular area.


A census is the process of counting the population of a country and finding out details about the people. The government takes a census so that it can make plans for the people. Many times the officials ask for details about gender, age, occupation religion, marital status, state of origin, ethnic group, kind of residence, and the kind of device in the house.

Before a population census commences, all the geographical areas are represented on a map and divided into enumeration units. Officials are recruited to perform the census exercise from house to house, and from one place to another until all the areas are covered during the census period. The officials use the information they get from the census to compile data. The data can be used in different ways by the government and interested international organizations.

Population Census In Nigeria
Population Census In Nigeria

Who is a Citizen

A citizen has several duties and responsibilities to his or her nation. One of these duties and responsibilities is to be counted during a population census.

The importance of national population census

Population census is about having an accurate number or a near accurate number of persons living in a particular area at a given time. This enables government to provide amenities in accordance with the needs of such an area.

Knowing the population of particular area allows decisions on the provision of social and infrastructural facilities such as schools, hospitals, roads, markets, water and shops.

Accurate population census figures provide data on the number of children, adults, the aged, women and men living in a particular location, so as to provide service and facilities for their respective needs.

Having accurate census figures also helps provide data on ethnic groups that are living in particular areas or towns and their distribution all over the nation. It also caters for data on members of different religious beliefs.

Apart from these, there are other internal and external uses of such data, not only by the government and its agencies but also by non-governmental and international organizations.

Problems associated with population census in Nigeria

Despite the importance of population census to a nation, there are problems associated with conducting census in Nigeria. Examples are:

  • Inadequate funding of the population commission.
  • The lack of knowledge and application of modern technology.
  • Inadequate or untrained enumerators and other population census officials.
  • The lack of awareness of the importance of a population census among the citizens.
  • Tribal, religious and ethnic sentiments about population.
  • The lack of a truly independent and unbiased institution to undertake census.
  • Nomadic and other transient population.
  • Weak immigration laws.

These and several other factors have at one time or the contributed to census failure that led to crises.

Suggestions on how to conduct an acceptable census

  1. Citizens should be educated on the importance of participating in census.
  2. Census officials should be property trained.
  3. Modern technology like computers should be used to conduct census.
  4. Population census should not be politicized in any way.
  5. Government should not based resources allocation on census results alone, to discourage people from different regions inflating their population figures.

Revision activities

  1. What is “population”?
  2. What is census?
  3. Mention two reasons why Nigeria has not been able to come up with actual figures of her population.
  4. Give one reason why it is important to conduct a census in country.
  5. Give two problems associated with conducting census in Nigeria.
  6. Suggest three ways in which Nigeria can conduct an acceptable census.