Population Census in Nigeria: Challenges and Issues


The population census in Nigeria is a vital exercise conducted periodically to gather demographic data about the Nigerian population. This article will delve into the various problems associated with conducting a population census in Nigeria and the impact these challenges have on the accuracy and reliability of the data collected.

1. Lack of Adequate Funding

One of the major challenges faced during the population census in Nigeria is the inadequate funding provided by the government. Insufficient financial resources allocated to the exercise hamper the planning, execution, and implementation of an accurate census. Without adequate funding, it becomes difficult to employ enough qualified personnel, acquire necessary equipment, and ensure extensive coverage of the country.

1.1 Impact of Inadequate Funding

The impact of insufficient funding leads to several issues:

  • Understaffing: Inadequate funding limits the number of skilled personnel available for the census. This affects the quality and efficiency of the data collection process.
  • Lack of modern equipment: Without sufficient funds, it becomes challenging to acquire modern equipment and technology required for accurate data collection.
  • Inadequate publicity: Limited funding hampers the ability to create awareness and educate the population about the importance of participating in the census.

2. Ethno-Religious Conflicts

Nigeria is a diverse country with various ethnic and religious groups. Ethno-religious conflicts pose a significant challenge to the accuracy of the population census. These conflicts often result in the displacement of populations, destruction of properties, and loss of lives. Conducting a census in such volatile areas becomes extremely challenging and can lead to undercounting or overcounting of affected populations.

2.1 Implications of Ethno-Religious Conflicts

The implications of ethno-religious conflicts on the population census are substantial:

  • Displacement: Conflict-induced displacement makes it difficult to accurately account for affected populations, leading to inaccurate data.
  • Underrepresentation: Displaced populations may not be able to participate in the census, resulting in underrepresentation and a skewed demographic profile.
  • Security concerns: Ethno-religious conflicts may deter census officials and enumerators from accessing certain areas, resulting in incomplete data collection.

3. Inadequate Infrastructure

Nigeria faces significant challenges regarding infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Inadequate road networks, limited access to electricity, and lack of communication facilities pose obstacles to the successful conduct of a population census.

3.1 Impact of Inadequate Infrastructure

The impact of inadequate infrastructure on the population census includes:

  • Incomplete coverage: Inaccessible areas due to poor infrastructure lead to undercounting, providing an inaccurate representation of the population.
  • Data collection delays: Poor infrastructure slows down the process of data collection, making it difficult to adhere to strict timelines.
  • Communication challenges: Lack of communication facilities hinders effective coordination and supervision of the census activities.

4. Illiteracy and Language Barrier

Illiteracy rates remain high in Nigeria, and this poses a challenge during the population census. Many individuals may not understand the purpose of the census or may have difficulty providing accurate information due to literacy and language barriers.

4.1 Challenges of Illiteracy and Language Barrier

The challenges faced due to illiteracy and language barriers are:

  • Misinterpretation of questions: Illiterate respondents may misinterpret questions, leading to inaccurate data collection.
  • Reliance on interpreters: The need for interpreters increases the complexity of the census process and can introduce errors in data collection.
  • Exclusion of marginalized communities: Illiterate individuals from marginalized communities may be excluded from participating in the census, resulting in an inaccurate representation of their population.

5. Inaccurate Birth and Death Registration

The accuracy of the population census relies heavily on accurate birth and death registration systems. Nigeria faces challenges in this area, as many births and deaths go unregistered. This leads to difficulties in estimating population growth rates, age distribution, and mortality rates.

5.1 Implications of Inaccurate Registration

The implications of inaccurate birth and death registration include:

  • Underreporting of births: Unregistered births lead to undercounting of the population, resulting in an inaccurate representation.
  • Misrepresentation of age distribution: Inaccurate birth registration affects the estimation of age groups, impacting policy planning and resource allocation.
  • Difficulty in estimating mortality rates: Incomplete death registration hinders accurate estimation of mortality rates, affecting healthcare planning.

6. Political Interference

Political interference has been a recurring issue in the population census in Nigeria. Political leaders sometimes manipulate census results to gain advantages in resource allocation, political representation, and power distribution. This undermines the integrity and accuracy of the census data.

6.1 Consequences of Political Interference

The consequences of political interference in the population census are significant:

  • Unfair resource allocation: Manipulated census data can result in misallocation of resources, depriving certain regions of their fair share.
  • Distorted political representation: Inaccurate population figures can lead to disproportionate representation in political bodies and affect democratic processes.
  • Social unrest: Manipulated census results can lead to social unrest, as marginalized communities may feel deprived and marginalized.


FAQ 1: How often is the population census conducted in Nigeria?

The population census in Nigeria is conducted every ten years.

FAQ 2: What measures can be taken to address the funding challenges in census exercises?

Increasing government funding, seeking international assistance, and engaging public-private partnerships can help address the funding challenges in census exercises.

FAQ 3: How can the accuracy of the census be improved in areas affected by ethno-religious conflicts?

Conducting targeted awareness campaigns, ensuring the safety of census officials, and conducting post-census surveys can help improve the accuracy of the census in areas affected by ethno-religious conflicts.

FAQ 4: What strategies can be employed to overcome the challenges of inadequate infrastructure?

Investing in infrastructure development, utilizing mobile data collection techniques, and leveraging technology for remote data transmission can help overcome the challenges of inadequate infrastructure.

FAQ 5: How can the issue of illiteracy and language barrier be addressed during the census?

Developing simplified census questionnaires, training enumerators on effective communication strategies, and utilizing local community leaders as intermediaries can help address the issue of illiteracy and language barrier during the census.

FAQ 6: What can be done to improve birth and death registration for accurate census data?

Implementing awareness campaigns, simplifying registration processes, and strengthening collaboration between healthcare providers and vital registration agencies can help improve birth and death registration for accurate census data.


The population census in Nigeria faces numerous challenges that impact the accuracy, reliability, and fairness of the data collected. Inadequate funding, ethno-religious conflicts, inadequate infrastructure, illiteracy, inaccurate birth and death registration, and political interference are among the key issues that need to be addressed to ensure a robust and accurate population census. Overcoming these challenges requires strong political will, increased funding, community engagement, and technological advancements. Only through these measures can Nigeria obtain accurate demographic data necessary for effective planning, resource allocation, and policy formulation.

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