The United Nations Population Fund UNFPA is currently mobilizing international stakeholders to support Nigeria’s effort to count its citizens in April 2023.

Resident Representative, Ms. Ulla Elizabeth Mueller, disclosed this today at a message development workshop in Karu, Nasarawa State.

She said that UNFPA fully identifies with the goal of the 2023 Census agenda to provide up-to-date data for national development.

UNFPA continues to “provide and mobilize additional technical and financial assistance to ensure that all phases of the Census are implemented according to best practices.

Best practices are embedded in the United Nations Principles and recommendations for the 2020 World Programme on Population and Housing Censuses, which emphasize increased use of technology to improve the quality and timeliness of the results overall,” she explained.

“Among several other forms of support UNFPA, in conjunction with NPC and the government, is spearheading all-round advocacy for the Nigeria 2023 Census among national and development partners and key stakeholders to mobilise adequate resources for the process.

As a result, there has been a remarkable positive change in the Nigeria Census-taking narrative, more partners are getting involved and a Census Partners Forum was recently inaugurated by the Government to facilitate effective involvement through structured consultation and feedback”.

Census 2023 is a huge task

Ms. Mueller, represented by Dr Collins Opiyo, UNFPA Chief Consultant on the Census said the census is a huge responsibility.

“Counting every person in a country with a population as large as Nigeria’s is a complex undertaking.

“As with any national census, the accuracy of the final count largely depends on high levels of participation among the general population.

“Therefore, an effective communications strategy that creates awareness and builds public support will be essential to
the success of the 2023 Census.

Consequently, she said UNFPA is supporting NPC to produce a comprehensive communication strategy to support effective implementation of publicity, education and advocacy activities.

The goal is to ensure clear messaging on the objectives of the 2023 census.”

The message should distinguish the 2023 Census agenda from the general elections, and get the buy-in of key stakeholders and the general public.

Population Reference Bureau

UNFPA wants to partner with Population Reference Bureau to develop a comprehensive Communication Strategy for Nigeria’s 2022 Census, she said.

The partnership will produce research and analysis, develop elaborate campaigns plan and effective messaging through strategic advertising and engagement with stakeholders.

PRB will introduce competent editors, designers, marketers, web experts, and policy communicators with track records of developing and implementing strategies.

“We offer expertise in content development, PR and social media, graphic and website design, brand management, marketing communications, video production, data visualization, and thought leadership.

“Working closely with PRB and NPC, UNFPA envisions a fully integrated communications campaign designed to raise awareness, mobilize resources, and motivate census participation.

The Representative asked the Nigerian media to communicate unequivocally and substantively on the 2023 Census agenda. This includes disseminating crucial information and objectively moderating national and local-level discourses,” she said.

Message Development Workshop

NPC chairman, Alhaji Nasir Issa Kwarra, charged the participants to the develop appropriate messaging plan for the 2023 Census.

He requested for a messaging template influences acceptability,

  • identifies categories of target audience for the 2023 Census
  • develops corresponding messages to secure their support for the census;
  • develop appropriate messages for the various stages of the 2023 Census;
  • identify appropriate channels for the dissemination of information on the 2023 Census.

He pointed out that Rapid Result Research on Census Awareness and Attitudes through Focus Group Discussion in the six geo political zones preceded the workshop.

The objective of the Rapid Result Research (RRR) was to generate information for evidence-based messaging for the 2023 Population and Housing Census.

“This is indeed a commendable step that will lead to the development of culturally sensitive messages for the 2023 Census.

“No doubt, the success of the advocacy and publicity campaign for the 2023 Population and Housing Census is a direct function of the appropriateness and persuasiveness of the message developed for the exercise.

“The messages must be compelling and capable of inspiring positive actions from the target audience”, he said.

He asked the participants to take note of new developments with implications for the census. He mentioned insecurity, COVID 19 pandemic, and agitations for restructuring as some of the developments.

“There is need to develop a set of messaging that will address the emerging issues,” he said.