Nigeria has postponed a census set to take place this week with the incoming government tasked with setting a new date. This was revealed by the information ministry over the weekend as it announced the latest delay to the nation’s first census in 17 years.
Previously, the census had been scheduled for May 3-7, but the ministry noted that more time was needed to plan for it. It will now be conducted by the new government of President-elect Bola Tinubu, who will be sworn in at the end of this month.
For this year alone, it is the second postponement to the census, the results of which affect the sharing of oil revenues and political representation among the 36 states and 300 ethnic groups in Africa’s most populous country.
Previously scheduled counts were discredited after disputes among the three main ethnic groups, the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.
According to the National Population Commission, Nigerians will not be asked about their ethnicity and religion during the census due to “the sensitive nature of these issues and the need to save the census data from needless controversies and attention.”
Nigeria is almost evenly divided between the largely Muslim north and mostly Christian south.
Recent estimates on Nigeria’s population show there are more than 200 million people and the U.N. expects that figure to double by 2050. That would make Nigeria the world’s third most populous country, behind China and India, overtaking the United States.