Religion and ethnicity will, for the first time, be included in the parameters used in Nigeria’s 2016 census, officially bringing to the fore the two variables believed to be at the core of disunity in Africa’s most populous country.
"If you don’t describe Nigerians in relation to ethnicity and religion and other parameters, then you are not describing them because we are proud of ethnicity and religion even if that is at a low level," Festus Odimegwu, the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), told reporters.
Nigeria last had a population census in 2006, putting the population at 140 million, a figure now being discredited even by Odimegwu, a leading businessman with notoriety for having worked with former president Olusegun Obasanjo to manipulate the constitution to give the latter a third term.
The decision to include religion and ethnicity is the first in Nigeria’s 53 years of political independence as previous population counts avoided the two sensitive issues, which many fear could worsen ethno-religious profiling.
All classifications of Nigerians along ethno-religious lines were not done by the government but by agencies gathering independent data.
The country is currently gripped by anger and debate over the decision of the government in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, to "deport" some persons of Igbo origin to their native Anambra State, unwittingly provoking tribal sentiments nationwide.
Igbo is one of Nigeria’s three major tribes.
The other two are Yoruba, in Southwest, and Hausa-Fulani in the North.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has up to 250 ethnic groupings and languages.
Muslims reportedly make up half the population of Nigeria and are concentrated in the north, while Christians constitute the majority in the south.
Good for Planning
Odimegwu said the decision to include religion and ethnicity in the census will help government to better plan.
"You need those data to plan for building mosque, churches, cathedrals, planning pilgrimages, planning nomadic education and if you don’t have those data you can never plan those things well," he maintained.
"These things will be sources of stealing money, they will put a wrong figure there, and when you put money they will embezzle it."
Odimegwu said such data would be good for business.
"If you are going to market border with something with pork and you don’t make a jurisdiction of Muslims in the 200,000 localities, you will commit a marketing blunder to go and launch it where Muslims are and maybe they eat it by mistake without knowing that there is pork," he noted.
"When they find out it is pork, do you know what they are going to do? They will quarrel with your company but if you have the data, you don’t go where there are high Muslim populations, you go where there are high Christian populations so they can have their pork and you can develop a new product for this."
Peshmerga and army officers said they advanced into Jalawla, 115 km (70 miles) from Baghdad, and the nearby town of Saadiya, which they have been trying to recapture from ISIL
"We understand the fatality of an 'Iron Curtain' for us," Putin was quoted as saying the TASS news agency in an interview published
For three nights running, small groups of demonstrators have gathered outside the Ferguson police station to chant slogans and wave placards
Correspondents association denounces ban on Hong Kong journalists who 'heckled' president
This is the third time the Israeli police stop Hamdallah's convoy since he assumed office in June
Tunisians head to cast their ballots to elect a new president in a vote billed as the first free presidential election in the country that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings three years ago.
Diplomats said a framework accord was still possible, but that weeks or months would then be needed to agree on the all-important details of how it would be implemented.
Thailand's lese-majeste law is the world's harshest and makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen or heir to the throne or regent.
Palestinian villages in the West Bank, especially those near Israeli settlements, have recently been subject to repeated assaults by Jewish settlers
Authorities warn historic snow levels are ready to melt in upstate New York as temperatures rise
Adverse weather conditions are hampering efforts to rescue around 300 migrants stranded on a vessel that broke down near Northern Cyprus' coast
The U.S. planned to admit close to 7,000 refugees from Turkey in the coming year, including Iraqis, Iranians, and a growing number of Syrians, the statement said
Sarkozy pressed on with increasingly Eurosceptic proposals rare among the country's mainstream politicians.
A senior ally of Merkel has warned the foreign minister and his fellow Social Democrats against pursuing a more friendly approach
Remi Fraisse, 21, was killed last month by a so-called "offensive grenade" during a standoff between police and opponents of a dam project in wetlands near Toulouse
Netanyahu's office said following discussions last week, the Israeli Prime Minister was expected to propose the bill against those who commit "terrorist" attacks with national ramifications