by Oyagiri Chime-emele
A Federal Commissioner with the National Population Commission (NPC), Mrs Gloria Izonfuo, has hinted that the 2023 population census would be fully digitalized.
Izonfuo, who gave the hint during a stakeholders summit on the 2023 Population and Housing Census, Tuesday, September 27th at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital , added that the digitalization is in line with United Nations principles and recommendations for the 2020 Round of Population and Housing Censuses.
She explained that the Commission had deployed technology to conduct the exercise and enhance data quality.
Izonfuo expressed the Commission’s commitment to deliver credible and reliable census that would be acceptable to Nigerians and data quality to meet international standards for planning and developmental purposes.
The former Head of Service in Bayelsa further stated that the stakeholders summit was the first of several meetings to be held in the state and thanked the
government and people of the state for the support to the Commission.
Responding, the state Governor, Senator Douye Diri, faulted the population figures ascribed to the state by the National Population Commission (NPC).
The Governor stated that the current population data for the country were inaccurate and called on the National Population Commission (NPC) to correct past census figures in the 2023 national census exercise, adding that the state was grossly under-estimated.
The state’s helmsman stressed that the state had grown beyond the current structure of eight local government areas, noting that the projected population of Yenagoa, as a state capital points to the fact that the state’s population was misrepresented.
He attributed the under-representation of Bayelsa in the House of Representatives with only five members to such faulty census figures .
The governor pointed out that the rapid growth and contribution of the state to the national economy, as a result of its oil resources, it deserves more federal presence.
His words: “By the 2006 census figures, Bayelsa had a population of 1,704,515. That figure was not correct. But we are hopeful that the next exercise will give a more reliable and acceptable figure.
“Our government is convinced that the National Population Commission has the commitment and capacity to deliver to Nigerians and, indeed, to Bayelsa State very credible, reliable, valid and acceptable population figures.
“As a government, we are deeply concerned that Bayelsa has grown beyond the current structure of eight local governments. Clearly, we are under-represented in the House of Representatives with only five members. And the current projected population of Yenagoa points to these facts. Due to our exponential growth and contributions to the national economy from our oil resources, we deserve more federal presence.”
Diri stressed that the NPC needed to realize that an accurate census was critical to the nation’s democracy and economy because it underpins fair representation in government and enable those in authority make appropriate funding for healthcare, schools, roads and other critical infrastructure, added that population figure was one of the basic parameters in the sharing of revenue, particularly in Nigeria.
Also speaking, the Acting State Director, National Population Commission, Mrs Evelyn Micah, said the essence of the stakeholders summit was to bring everyone together to plan ahead of the forthcoming 2023 census, saying that the stakeholders would be responsible to convey the message to the grassroots.
She expressed hope that with the digital census, all abnormalities will be corrected.
In their contributions, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ben Okolo, and Chairman, Bayelsa State Founding Fathers, Chief Benedict Gwembe, respectively, said population census was strategic to enable government plan for every sector, including creation of more voting centres in the country.
They called for more census enumerators to be deployed in the rural areas, as well as provide sensitisation on the need for people to participate in the process.
They assured the Commission of their support to assist it conduct hitch-free and successful 2023 national population and housing census.