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Nigerian state governorship aspirant calls for biometric capture in national census

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Nigerian state governorship aspirant calls for biometric capture in national census

There is a new call for Nigeria to collect biometric information from citizens during a delayed national population census expected to take place this year.

This latest advocacy comes from a former member of the National Population Commission (NPC) and governorship aspirant for the State of Ondo, Diran Iyantan, Vanguard reports. The NPC is a citizen registration agency.

During a recent event to declare his candidacy for the governorship race on the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Iyantan urged President Bola Tinubu to direct the collection of biometrics during the census.

The politician said, as quoted, that “if we include this vital component of biometric data gathering in the NPC budget, it will not only authenticate everyone counted but also serve as a foolproof way to prevent crimes and address critical issues through proper identification and management of citizens’ data.”

According to Iyantan, the question of including biometrics in the upcoming census was on the table during his time as NPC Board member, but there were no conclusive decisions on the matter due to cost and other concerns.

He says collecting biometric data during the census will set the template for the conduct of more seamless and less costly census operations in the future.

Nigeria has collected biometrics from 104 million residents to issue their digital identity, the NIN, and hopes to reach 148 million enrolled this year. The country’s population was estimated by the World Bank to exceed 218 million as of 2022.

The call from Iyantan comes after a socio-political group, Afenifere, last August urged the NPC to deploy a biometric system during the census in order to enhance accuracy.  An NPC official has also disclosed that the agency plans to deploy a biometric system to fight manipulation.

The last time Nigeria conducted a national population census was in 2006. This new census was due to take place in 2023, but was later postponed for various reasons.

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