Nigeria’s National Population Commission, NPC, has Wednesday debunked rumors that the 2023 Population and Housing Census will include questions on religious affiliation.
The Commission made this clarification in response to an audio tape circulating on the WhatsApp social media platform that calls on Muslims in Nigeria to refuse to answer questions about their religious affiliations.
The audio tape claimed that the supposed canvassing of information on religious affiliations was an attempt to suppress the population figures of Muslims.
The Commission stated that the decision to exclude religion and ethnicity from the census questionnaire was taken after due consideration of the sensitive nature of these issues within the Nigerian polity.
The Commission further clarified that the questionnaire is robust and includes demographic and socio-economic characteristics of respondents but without any questions on religion and ethnicity.
According to the Director of Public Affairs of the National Population Commission, NPC, Isiaka Yahaya, Ph.D., the message contained in the audio tape originated from Ghana during its 2021 population census exercise and found its way into the Nigerian social media space in July 2022 during the Trial Census.
Yahaya warned that the recirculation of the message in audio form is an indication that some elements are bent on drawing the 2023 Census into unnecessary controversies through the propagation of falsehood and incitement of a section of the population to destabilize existing peaceful coexistence in the country.
The Commission enjoined members of the general public to disregard the rumors of questions on religious affiliation contained in the audio tape and to extend maximum cooperation to the enumerators for the sake of delivering a credible, reliable, and acceptable 2023 Population and Housing Census data for national development planning.