Meets Governor Zulum, Theatre Commander JTF Northeast Operation Hadin Kai and other stakeholders

Chairman of the National Population Commission, Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra has called on the government and people of Borno State to support the conduct of the forthcoming 2022 Population and Housing Census to get accurate data that will be used to tackle the security challenges bedeviling the State and some parts of the country.

Hon. Nasir Kwarra stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum at the Borno State Government House, Maiduguri to create awareness on the next census and other activities of the Commission. He said “Your Excellency, the aim of this courtesy visit is to acquaint you on preparations for the 2022 Census and solicit the support of the Government and good people of Borno State for the success of these activities which have direct bearing on the socio-economic and political life of the people.” Kwarra, noted that the 2022 Census will unearth the demographic data needed to address the insecurity in Borno State. “The vision of the National Population Commission is to become the population center of excellence and most responsive public institution in Nigeria as well as the leading demographic agency in Africa by 2024. The Commission aspires to meet the data needs of all end users and ensure a robust population quality for national transformation and global competitiveness” he stated.

According to NPC boss, implementing the ongoing census preparatory activities and the coming census is cost intensive and require active involvement of the entire citizenry, through enlightenment and publicity, cultivation of public ownership of the programs, creation of a conducive atmosphere, dissolving prejudices and apathy and eliciting the enthusiastic response of the stakeholders. “It is definitely a task the Commission cannot undertake alone without the goodwill and support of the broad spectrum of the Nigerian society. It is in the light of the above that I wish to humbly request for your continuous support in the sensitization and mobilization of the populace in the LGAs, upscale the provision of adequate security for the safety of our personnel and materials and provision of accommodation and logistics for field staff ” he stated.

Kwarra requested Governor Zulum to appoint a Special Adviser on Census Matters for a more sustainable partnership between the Commission and Borno State Government. “The appointment of the Special Adviser on Census Matters will facilitate a smooth and mutually beneficial engagement between the State Government and the Commission as well as build bridges between the Commission, the State and the people for the purpose of the coming census.”

NPC Chairman disclosed that the Commission has intensified the preparation towards the next Population and Housing Census with the conduct of Enumeration Area Demarcation exercise in 99% of the LGAs across the States of the Federation. He observed that “a total of 772 LGAs have been successfully demarcated across the 36 States and FCT, and the demarcation of the last 2 LGAs will be completed soon. Your Excellency, I am pleased to inform you that the Commission has generally completed Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in Borno State covering most of the 27 LGAs leaving Abadam LGA and some pockets of Enumeration Areas outstanding because of security issues. I plead with Your Excellency to assist the Commission in its efforts to complete the demarcation work in Abadam LGA.”

“Also, the Commission has concluded the 1st and 2nd Census Pre-test exercises which are part of the preparatory activities for the next Population and Housing Census. The Pre-test exercises were conducted in selected Enumeration Areas in the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT. Your Excellency, the Pre-test exercise is the testing of census instruments and methodology, EA maps, workload etc. The Commission intends to provide the nation with a robust and reliable Enumeration Area Frame which will not only serve as a good foundation for the conduct of accurate and acceptable census but will also help form the basis for government and private sector planning, policy-making, security, equitable budget allocations and development.”

Kwarra further revealed that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests in the Commission the mandate to establish the mechanism for continuous and universal registration of births and deaths in the country. “Over the years the Commission has made concerted efforts to establish vital registration centers nationwide. Presently, it maintains a minimum of five registration centers in the 774 LGAs in Nigeria and operates in all major health facilities across the country, Borno State has 88 registration centers” he explained.

Responding, Prof. Babagana Zulum appreciated the Chairman for the visit as census data is essential for planning for the development of the State. “Population Census data is very critical for development planning, political representation and revenue sharing. We will do everything possible to support and partner with National Population Commission to generate this vital data. We will provide security, logistics, sensitize and mobilize our people for the next census. I understand the process because I was a Facilitator in the 2006 Census.” Concerning Borno citizens in the IDP camps, the Governor gave assurance to return them to their usual place of residence. “We will ensure that remaining people in the IDP camps in our neighboring countries are returned before the next census so that Borno State will not be shortchanged in the exercise. We will also ensure that remaining LGA and pockets of EAs yet to be demarcated will be completed. We will look at effective ways to address those challenges before the 2022 census.” However, Prof. Zulum promised to appoint a Special Adviser or 3 Senior Special Assistants on Census Matters, one from each of the 3 senatorial districts of the State for a deeper collaborative partnership with the Commission to aid smooth conduct of the Census exercise in Borno State. The Governor stated that Borno State will provide all the necessary support and collaborate with the Commission to mobilize its people for the 2022 Census but that the Commission should ensure that Borno State populace in IDP camps will not be left out in the exercise.

Hon. Kwarra later reassured the Governor that the 2022 Census methodology will capture people who have been displaced from their usual place of residence into IDP camps and other places as a result of insurgency. “2022 Census Questionnaire has provision for follow-up questions that will link people in IDP camps and other places to their usual place of residence” he said.

NPC Chairman was accompanied on the advocacy visit by the Honourable Federal Commissioners from the northeast region representing Borno State, Barr. Isa Audu Buratai; Adamawa State, Dr. Clifford Zira; Yobe State, Mai Aliyu Muhammad; Bauchi State, Hon. Ibrahim Mohammed; Gombe State, Hon. Abubakar Mohammed Danburam; Taraba State, Hon. Sale Sule Saany; Chairman, Public Affairs Committee and Honourable Federal Commissioner representing Oyo State, Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji, Directors of Census, Mrs. Arinola Olanipekun; Cartography, Prince Joseph Ogunsina; Planning and Research, Hajia Bintu Abba Ibrahim; Special Duties, Hussaini Alhaji Isiyaku; Public Affairs, Dr. Isiaka Yahaya; Census Manager, Dr. Inuwa Jalingo; Technical Adviser to the Chairman, Yahaya Ahmed Doma and other technical staff of the Commission.

Other top State functionaries that assisted Governor Zulum to receive the NPC delegation were the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Hon. Umar Usman Kaddafur; Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Jidda Shuwa; Head of Service, Barr. Simon Malgwi; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Prof. Isa Marte Hussaini; Deputy Majority Leader, Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Aimu Foni; other members of the State House of Assembly, some Commissioners and others including Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants to the Governor.

Moreover, Hon. Kwarra in continuation of his advocacy visits in Borno State paid a courtesy visit to the Theatre Commander, Joint Task Force Northeast Operation Hadin Kai. Maj. Gen. Christopher Musa to discuss security issues with regard to the conduct of the 2022 Population and Housing Census in the State. NPC Chairman applauded the military for the security cover provided to the Commission’s field functionaries in all the preparatory activities for the next census. He appealed to the Theatre Commander for more security support to complete the only remaining LGA yet to be demarcated in the State and other pockets of Enumeration Areas that have not been demarcated because of insurgency. “We have to work collaboratively so that we can do what is good for Nigeria. We provide the data, you provide the security and with your security and the data we provide, we can plan for the development of this country” Kwarra explained.

Maj. Gen. C.G. Musa assured the commitment of the military to provide necessary security that will enable the Commission deliver credible and reliable Census. “We know the importance of census data to tackle security challenges, our neigbouring countries have accurate data for planning but we don’t have. We are ready to give the Commission support because with accurate data, things can easily be planned. I have looked forward to interact with the Commission about population data that will aid us in our work of securing the country. We are working to relocate displaced people in IDP camps back to their homes. We really want the remaining EAD completed to be holistic because we don’t want any part of Nigeria disenfranchised” Musa said.

However, NPC boss also attended Interactive Stakeholders Meeting held at the Commission’s State office in Maiduguri, which had in attendance his entourage, UNFPA Resident Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Ulla Mueller, Deputy Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abdullahi Musa Askira, other members of the State House of Assembly, LGA Chairmen, members of the Civil Society Organizations among others to sensitize and enlighten the stakeholders on 2022 census methodology, process, essence and benefits.

At the stakeholders meeting, the Honorable Federal Commissioner representing Oyo State in the Commission, Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji stressed that the coming census is most beneficial to the country as it will provide geodatabase accurate information about the population and all structures in the country that will be valuable for national planning and to tackle security challenges. He said “It is critically important to go ahead with the conduct of the next census as we have gone far. We are 16years behind and can’t continue to plan without accurate data. The solution to insecurity is not to do nothing but rather to do census to get data to solve the security issues.”

Similarly, the Deputy Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abdullahi Musa Askira while speaking at the event requested for special hazard allowance for the field functionaries working in high security risk areas and for posting of field functionaries for the census activities to be on their preferred place of work to be able to get maximum commitment and dedication from the workers. Also, the Chairman of Gwoza LGA, Prof. Ibrahim Bulama Buka expressed fears that his LGA would be undercounted in the next census due to large migration of his people to IDP camps and other places because of insecurity.

Nevertheless, the host Honourable Federal Commissioner representing Borno State, Barr. Isa Audu Buratai allayed those fears and concerns expressed by the stakeholders and explained that no citizen resident in Nigeria will be left out in the 2022 Census and that the census methodology will take care of people living in the IDP camps.

Contributing, UNFPA Resident Representative, Ms. Ulla Mueller stated that the primary aim of a census is to understand the population of a country, to know where to provide facilities, services and infrastructure for development and that greater emphasis should be on that.

NPC Chairman also visited and encouraged the staff of the Commission in Borno State office to work with passion, dedication and commitment to deliver a reliable, credible and acceptable 2022 Population and Housing Census. He commended the staff for their courage and patriotism on the successful completion of 99% of EAD exercise in the State despite security challenges and disclosed that plan is ongoing to increase the salary of staff.