The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has urged the Federal Government to shift the dates earlier fixed for this year’s national enumeration exercise (Census), as it falls within the Muslim holy month of Ramadan fasting.
The MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, made the plea on Wednesday in a statement, saying the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Isa Kwarra, had announced March 29 to April 2nd as the dates for the 2023 census.
The statement read in part, “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. Although nothing in our religion says working during the month of Ramadan is prohibited and millions of Muslims do their daily work during the month of Ramadan, the rigorous spiritual exercise in Ramadan cannot be easily combined with the hazards of the census for both the citizens who are to be counted and the enumerators too.
“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 during Ramadan. Muslims who are fasting are most active from morning till noon after which the law of diminishing returns takes over.”
He added that what really makes the 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, having fallen between 4 and 5 am and 6.45 and 7 pm, respectively.
The MURIC boss said that Muslims who are fasting will definitely experience untold hardship concerning what to eat and how to break their fast if the census is held during Ramadan, as 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.
He said, “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 success 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 the census during Easter is ill-advised in the same way that any plan for the census in Ramadan is an exercise in futility. The earlier we face reality, the better.”