By Justina Auta
As the nation prepares for the population and housing census holding in May, the Federal Government has assured Nigerians of a credible exercise that would be transparent and acceptable.
Dr Garba Abari, Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), made the pledge when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Sunday.
Abari, who is also a member of the National Publicity and Advocacy Committee on Census, stressed the need for the involvement of every Nigerian in the exercise.
“ The most important thing is to make Nigerians aware that census is about them because they matter; so let them be counted because they count.
“ It is all about them, about planning for development, security, and others.
“When you are not actually able to get the correct information about all that we do, or how many we are, how many are male, female, how many are old, young, how many are persons with disabilities, planning will be difficult.
“A reliable census provides an important ingredient that will help national planning. We need a holistic data base that is scientific to guide different levels of government in the provision of services, infrastructure and the way and manner they relate as government to the people.”
While noting the challenges bedeviling the nation, he emphasised the need for every individual, group and religion to unite towards fostering peace and development in the country.
“Nigerians must have to be aware and every person now has to come and begin to look at the country as one that belongs to us all and not one for only the rich and the poor.
“ Of course, we have challenges, but the most important issue is to understand that there is no country that has no challenges.
“We have our challenges which are peculiar to us and only we, the citizens and leadership, can sort these problems and get the country moving.
“We must have to begin to look at other ways by which these challenges may be tackled. The onus lies fundamentally on the leadership, then the followership,’’ he said.
The Director-General described Nigeria as the largest black nation in the world, hence the need for its citizens to manage its diversity and get it right in all areas. (NAN)