Ahead of the April 2023 national headcount by the National Population Commission, Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma has appealed to all citizens of the State to make themselves available to be counted.
He has also appealed to the National Population Commission to ensure that the integrity and proficiency of the technology to be deployed for the exercise is accurate and reliable.
Governor Uzodimma made the call while flagging off a Stakeholders Summit on the 2023 Population and Housing Census in Owerri on Wednesday, September 28 2022.
He said that he is pleased with the NPC and considered the summit “germane to the realization of our future plans as a government and as a people.”
The Governor bemoaned a situation where citizens see census as “a mere collection of data and the number of human beings and sometimes houses,” emphasising that “National Census includes the collection of demographic, social and economic data which the government uses to formulate economic policies.”
He noted: “The data generated serve as a useful guide in the distribution of social amenities and infrastructural projects. In other words, population census is at the heart of the planning for the future by government based on the figure obtained during the census exercise.”
“A properly conducted population census, therefore, saves the government from planning blindly.”
The Governor went said that “the importance of National Census cannot be over emphasized because it helps in planning for the health, demography, social welfare, infrastructure and general sustainability of the society, it serves as a road map towards the orderly planning and implementation of government policies and programmes.”
The governor informed that statistics got from population census helps to formulate sartorial polices for good governance and expressed delight that the current administration led by President Muhammudu Buhari has resolved to hold the National Population Census in April next year, notwithstanding the capital outlay and human resources involved.
Governor Uzodimma then urged the people to be more prepared for the exercise appealing to them to be proactive and ready to participate actively in the exercise.
He regretted the facts that “in the previous exercises our people were either nonchalant or indifferent and therefore refuse to participate in the exercise based on ignorance.”
“For us to come out from complaints of marginalization, low revenue income, and social amenities we must participate effectively in the upcoming population census.”
He reminded the citizens: “The outcome of any census is bound to impact on us positively or negatively. This is because the Federal government uses the figures derived from census for revenue allocation, and allocation of social infrastructure needed for the welfare of the people.”
The Governor went philosophical: “When we fail to participate fully in a census exercise the consequence is that we are undercounted. And when we are undercounted we are short changed in the distribution of national resources. It is therefore our civic responsibility as stakeholders to carry the message down to our people in the rural areas and encourage them to participate fully in the national population census exercise.
“A reliable census figure will guide the government in policy making and economic planning. When we know the exact number of youths in the State and what percentage of them are unemployed it will help the government in designing more effective youth empowerment programmes.”
The Governor therefore directed the Sole Administrators of the LGAs, the Town Union Presidents and their Traditional Rulers and all Leaders in the State to take up the challenge of sensitizing the people and the need to participate in this all important exercise.
He noted that “unlike voter registration exercise which has age limit of 18 years and above, the population census is for everyone including a day old baby. What this means is that nobody should be excluded as it is neither political nor sectional.”
He therefore assured the National Population Commission in the State that his government will give them every support they need to ensure that the exercise turns out to be a huge success and wished all participants on the summit a successful outing.
In his goodwill message, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Emeka Nduka who described the theme of the census “2023: Getting People Involved” as relevant and timely called on the politicians, the Academics, and Captains of industries to join hands to create the awareness and shun all cultural, religious, political or ethnic reasons and participate fully in the exercise.
The Speaker assured that “effective participation will save the South East from marginalization as the 2023 census offers another opportunity for the people of Imo State and other South Eastern States to stand up and be counted to prove their numerical strength which is key in planning, political representation and allocation of resources.”
Nduka recommended that “any individual, group of persons, association or organization that discourages our people from active participation and housing census should be seen as an enemy of the State and Zone who is doing a great disservice to us as a people.”
He finally submitted that Imo people are anxiously looking forward to a generally acceptable exercise come 2023.
In his welcome address earlier, the Federal Commissioner National Population Commission Imo State, Prof. Uba Nnabue said that the goal of the State Stakeholders summit is to broaden state level support base for the successful conduct of the 2023 census.
“The specific objectives are; to create public awareness on the conduct of the 2023 census. To promote robust and informed conversation on the processes and procedures for the census.
“Other objectives include: to solicit the cooperation and support of the State level Stakeholders for the conduct of the census and to promote a platform to offer clarification and receive feedback and suggestions and salient issues and concerns related to the conduct of the 2023 National Population and Housing Census.”
Nnabue thanked the Governor for all the support his Commission has received from the State and assured Nigerians, especially Imo people and the development partners, that “the Commission remains committed to the conduct of a credible and acceptable census that will be transforming and meets international standards.”
He promised that “based on the technology to be deployed in the 2023 census everyone will be counted in the right way, at the right place and time, and for the benefit of all persons resident in Nigeria.”
The Chairman Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers thanked the Commission for factoring the Traditional Rulers as major stakeholders of the summit and urged them to always give them early information on what they want to do so that they will start early to mobilize and sensitize the people at the community level.
There were also goodwill messages from the National Orientation Agency, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri at the summit where they commended the commission for embarking on the laudable project and pledged their support in mobilizing the people towards the laudable exercise.