The Nigerian Federal leader, General Yakubu Gowon, on Thursday (July 27) inaugurated the country's National Census Board.
GV General Gowon seated & speaking
GOWON: "Mr Chairman, gentlemen. I am very happy to be able to address this inaugural meeting of the National Census Board. In my broadcast to the nation on our tenth independence anniversary in 1970, I presented a nine point programme of major tasks which are to be executed by my Government before returning to civilian rule in Nigeria. One of the priorities on that programme is the holding of a national population census. You will recall that the results of the 1963 population census unfortunately evoked bitter controversy and widespread doubt throughout the country. A census count being a technical operation, should not l???ad to any controversy and should, ind???d, command national and world-wide acclaim and acceptability, if conducted as a technical exercise. Unfortunately, the 1963 census was severely politicised and its results led to unsavoury controversy. I need not recount now the consequences of all this to national unity, cohesion and stability. As the National Census Board in charge of this country's next population count your task is therefore a grave and challenging one. And the people of this country will watch how you discharge this task most critically, if not with suspicion and a good measure of scepticism. It is therefore for you, not only to be above board, but to be seen by one and all to be so. Nigeria simply cannot afford another controversial census count.
General Gowon addressing the National Census Board.
Initials SGM/1623 SGM/1654
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Background: The Nigerian Federal leader, General Yakubu Gowon, on Thursday (July 27) inaugurated the country's National Census Board.
At a ceremony in Lagos, the capital, General Gowon warned that the next population count in November next year should be flawless. He told members of the Board that they should do their best to avoid the bitter controversy and widespread doubt which marred the last census in 1963.
The Census is one of nine points of a programme which the military rules have set out to accomplish before they hand over power to civilians in 1976.
The Board is headed by a retired Chief Justice, Sir Edetokunbo Ademola, and it has representatives from all of Nigeria's twelve states.
During the short inauguration ceremony, General Gowon stressed the economic political and social benefits of an accurate census. He said that any attempts to distort the results of a new count would adversely affect the rationality of public policy and the allocation of scarce resources.
Herewith follows a transcript of the address by General Gowon to the National Census Board.