The chairman of the National Population Commission, Nasir Isa Kwarra, has announced March 29 to April 2nd as the dates for the 2023 census. This has not gone down well with the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) which has voiced opposition to a census exercise taking place during Ramadan.
MURIC spoke through its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 25th January, 2023.
The statement reads :
“Our attention has been drawn to the date fixed for the 2023 census by the National Census Commission. 29th March to 2nd April 2023 may not be good dates for the exercise because those dates fall within the first and second weeks of Ramadan (https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2023/01/21/fg-fixes-march-29-to-april-2-for-national-population-census/).
“Although nothing in our religion says working during the month of Ramadan is prohibited and millions of Muslims do their daily works during the month of Ramadan, the rigorous spiritual exercise in Ramadan cannot be easily combined with the hazards of census for both the citizens who are to be counted and the enumerators too.
“Experience has shown that the ad hoc workers of the census exercise are usually taken into villages. The work consumes time and energy. It entails training of enumerators, supervisors and other facilitators on how to fill forms for households and field work.
“Census ad hoc workers move from house to house and come back in the night to fill certain forms. They continue doing this for five consecutive days. It is obvious that Muslims among the ad hoc staff who are fasting will certainly suffer hardship if the exercise is held in Ramadan. Muslims who are fasting are most active from morning till noon after which the law of diminishing returns takes over.
“Census enumerators go to the field in the morning. They move from house to house and compile data in the night. Each worker must cover the area assigned to him or her on a daily basis. More often than not, many of them spend up to five days in the villages without sighting civilization throughout.
“But what really makes combination of census exercise and Ramadan fasting unwise and illogical is the odd times sahuur (early morning food) and futuur (meal taken to break the fast) must be taken mandatorily. Sahuur is between 4 and 5 am while futuur is between 6.45 and 7 pm.
“Muslims who are fasting will definitely experience untold hardship concerning what to eat and how to break their fast if census is held during Ramadan. They will be forced to take sahuur in strange environments with the attendant difficulties. Worse still, many of them may not find anything to eat at such times.
“Census work is rigorous, hectic, tedious and tortuous. The logistics of both exercises contradict each other. It must also be noted that census work necessitates courtesy and cordiality between households and enumerators. Hunger, fatigue and dehydration may not allow those who are fasting to manifest patience and observe necessary decorum when attending to enumerators. This may affect the succecc of the exercise. It is therefore better after Ramadan.
“MURIC wants stakeholders to accept the fact that Nigeria is not a secular state where the opinions of religious groups are inconsequential. It is a multi-religious nation. We must stop planning projects without any input from all interested parties. Wide consultation is necessary when planning events.
“For instance, any attempt to conduct census during Easter is ill-advised in the same way that any plan for census in Ramadan is an exercise in futility. The earlier we face reality the better.” #PostponeCensusInRamadan #RespectMuslimsRights