Importance of Census

In the name of Allah, most Gracious most Merciful. All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord and Cherisher of the universe. We praise Him and seek His forgiveness. Whosoever has been guided by Allah, none can misguide him and whosoever has been misguided by Allah, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. He is alone and has no partner or associate in His sovereignty and I also bear witness that our spiritual chief, our apostle and our true friend Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His true servant and true messenger. May Allah bestow His peace and blessings on the noblest of the prophets, Muhammad (peace be upon him), his companions, his household and all those who followed him in righteousness till the day of reckoning.

I greet you with the Islamic fraternal salutation of peace and unity encapsulated in the traditional Arabic expression of “AS-SALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAH-MATULLAAHI TA’ AALAA WA BARAKAATUHU”.

This week my presentation will focus on Ghana’s 2010 Population and Housing Census which is scheduled for this Sunday night, September 26 to October 10, 2010.

This national exercise is of importance to me for several reasons. Paramount among these reasons is the true population of Muslims in Ghana. I recall the reaction of Ghanaian Muslims in 2001 to the 2000 Population and Housing Census results which put the Muslim population at 15.6 percent. All kinds of arguments were put up by Ghanaian Muslims to explain why they thought the 15.6 percent figure was not a true reflection of the Muslim population in Ghana as of the year 2010. Infact it was the pioneering role played by the Coalition of Muslim Organisations, Ghana (COMOG) of which I am the Greater Accra Regional Assistant Secretary in calming down nerves and explaining issues to Muslims that saved the situation and also shot COMOG into prominence.

Of course there were some reasons that also made some Muslims not fully participate in the exercise. Ignorance of the importance of what use the census data could be put to, misinformation that information disclosed to the enumerators would be used by government for purposes of taxation and perhaps the apprehension by some West African Muslims in Ghana that the Aliens Compliance Order used under the leadership of the late Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia may be reenacted to repatriate them from Ghana to their home countries. Indeed these reasons and others not mentioned here contributed significantly to the results that were recorded.

It is in the light of the above that I have decided to discuss the importance of the 2010 Population and Housing Census with a view of motivating everyone in Ghana, particularly Muslims to actively get involved in the exercise.

Census is the official enumeration of people leaving in a country at a particular point in time. That is what is known as the Census night.

The first Population Census in Ghana was conducted in 1891. Even after independence, one was conducted in 1960 and 1970. Even though the United Nations expects that a Population Census is undertaken every ten years, Ghana could not conduct any after the 1970 exercise until 1984. Even after the 1984 exercise, Ghanaians had to wait for sixteen years before one was conducted in April 2000. After the 2000 Population and Housing Census, Ghanaians are fortunate to have another exercise coming up from Sunday night till October 10, 2010.

Before I look at the importance of the Population Census, let me humbly call on all Muslims in Ghana to participate in the exercise. Let us be sincere and answer all the questions truthfully. Let us not entertain any fears that the information we provide will be disclosed to anyone. The information you provide is protected under the confidentiality provisions of Statistical Service Law (1985).

Population Census is an important exercise because it provides the most comprehensive picture of the social and living conditions of the people.

Secondly, it will enable the country to track developments over a long period with considerable accuracy.

Also, statistics obtained are essential for planning the provision of healthcare, education, employment etc. It also helps in identifying likely demand for schools and hospitals, areas of relatively high unemployment, the best location for new shops.

Census also serves as a means of accurately measuring the exact extent of migration.

Finally, the Census results help in the creation and/or redemarcation of constituencies and districts.

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