An elder statesman Chief Edwin Clark has promised to support the National Population Commission, NPC to realize its mandate of the Population and Housing Census scheduled to hold next year, as he charged the Commission to ensure the 2023 Census is devoid of politics and ethnicity.
While welcoming the National Population Commission delegation led by its Chairman, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra, that paid him a courtesy visit at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, Chief Clark said, “When I heard that you are going to do this fantastic job, which for years has been one of Nigeria’s problems, who am I to say that I won’t help and support you. But God moves in mysterious ways, if I’m still alive by then, I will support the exercise”.
He was certain that after the election, the census conducted at the time will be beautiful and peaceful, and would be supported by whoever will assume the country’s political leadership.
“This is the time for you to come out and perform your civic duties. I am certain it would be a successful, peaceful and beautiful exercise. It is either you come out to be counted or you help others to be counted”, thus Chief Edwin Clark declared in his Asokoro residence.
He said he was hitherto worried and disturbed over various figures being pushed out as the country’s population.
According to the 95 years old Chief Clark, the British population has not changed too much, but the situation is not the same in Nigeria where the population changes frequently.
“Just within a short period of time, the figures being pronounced as our population was frightening. It continues to change.
“For instance, Patani had a population of 80,000 in 1961, but by 1973 the population has gone down to 70,000, so they said they must find out what was responsible. I am just citing the example. There are other areas where the people have not left the villages, these are Nigerians, where have they gone to?
“Within a short period of time, our population shot up to 200 million as the population of Nigeria. Now is the time to exercise your civic duty, let us know ourselves, let us know the number of houses we have in Nigeria so that we will be able to plan. If you don’t know your population, you can’t plan. You won’t even know how many schools to build.
“So, this is the time for you to come out and I am certain that after the election, the census conducted at the time will be beautiful and peaceful. Come out and perform your civic duties, it is either you come out to be counted or you help others to be counted”.
The nonagenarian charged the NPC to ensure it conducts next year’s census devoid of politics and ethnicity.
“I urge you to conduct a national census next year that will be devoid of politics and ethnicity. There was no census in the past that was devoid of politics, that was devoid of ethnicity, that was devoid of manipulations, and as such, many of us became fed up with census in those days.
“Today in Nigeria, when we are asked what is our population, we cannot say it, anything you ask for, you cannot get the correct answer. So, when people talk today, I want to know from NPC what the number of Oil being exported from this country; how much of the refined oil is brought back to Nigeria; how many vehicles we have in Nigeria today, nobody knows.
“We don’t even know the number of Ports, Ships, ask the Navy, ask the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), they don’t know. So, when we hear that you are going to do this fantastic job, which for years has been one of Nigeria’s problems, who am I to say that I won’t help and support you. But God moves in mysterious ways, if I’m still alive by then, I will support the exercise”.
According to him, “I am 95 years old. When you enter 70, you collect your boarding pass, I have collected my boarding pass, but I know I still have an assignment and one of those jobs is to see a correct census in this country”, he said just as he appreciated the government for making available the necessary funds to acquire the gadgets for the exercise.
“I know you are all qualified people. You are all Nigerians, God will guide this job and most importantly, give you the courage. What Nigeria lacks is courage, the ability to do what you should do. And may God also give you the wisdom to do the job.
The NPC Chairman, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra had earlier urged the nonagenarian to support the Commission achieve its mandate of the Population and Housing Census.
According to Isa Kwarra, the Commission has gone far in the preparation for the Population and Housing Census explaining that two local governments avoided as a result of insecurity would be enumerated soonest.
“We have conducted a Trial census with the digital gadgets acquired for the purpose, and the outcome was successful. In essence, the Trial Census exercise was a critical part of the census preparatory process which provided the opportunity to test all aspects of the census programme and instruments in advance of the main census”, Nasir Isa Kwarra said.
Hon. Kwarra, also, promised that the 2023 Census would be free from politics, and ethnic and religious sentiments.