By Alex Enebeli
Some stakeholders in Enugu State including the Igbo Apex Socio-Cultural Group, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, have pledged to ensure successful conduct of the 2023 national census.
They made the pledge in Enugu on Wednesday during the National Population Commission (NPC) Stakeholders’ Summit ahead of the 2023 National Census with the theme “Getting The People Involved”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NPC is collaborating with the Enugu State Government in organising the summit, participated by Religious and Traditional Leaders, Labour Unions and Lawmakers.
Others are the Government and Security Agencies, UNICEF, NUJ, WHO and Local Government Chairmen amongst others.
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohaneze, Dr Alex Ogbonna said the call became necessary to avoid pressing the Igbo population down by denying them their fair share in the country.
According to him, the summit is important not to only Igbos but for the entire country, noting that without it, planning becomes difficult.
He stated that getting actual and credible census had become challenging to Nigeria since pre- Independence.
“If you look at 1952, 1963, 1964 and 1974 censuses, they were all rejected for not meeting the expectation of the people.
“The 1988 and 1991 heralded crisis which was detrimental to Igbo cause and we also discovered in 2006 the census was not accepted due to errors in the figures.
“So now they are talking about electronic census, I hope they will come out with better and credible result,” he said.
Ogbonnia said the problems associated with census in the country include federalism, porous borders across the country.
While allaying fears for successfully conducting the census, the national secretary said security agencies should ensure who were Nigerians and had them counted.
The Chairman Enugu State Traditional Ruler Council, HRH Lawrence Agubuzu, said NPC had demonstrated the importance of attaching everyone in the country in the forthcoming census in the country through the summit.
“Therefore, it is our responsibility to support the exercise to ensure it is successful and we in Enugu State especially the traditional rulers is in support of what they are doing,” Agubuzo said.
In a remark, the Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Enugu Chapter, Rev. Emmanuel Ositadimma said churches were ready to partner with NPC and make their structures available for the success of the census.
According to him, during counting, NPC should go to all the churches in Enugu and ensure that every Christian is counted.
Speaking in same view, the Chief Immam, Enugu Central Mosque, Alhaji Zulkarnain Saeed, appealed to NPC to include them when counting people in Enugu as they had became part of Enugu.
Saeed represented by Abdulaziz Adebayo however, expressed displeasure on the level of killing in the country, saying, “If we kill ourselves, who will NPC be counted.
“NPC should be truthful and avoid manipulating the figures obtained during the exercise so that they can be in good book of Allah,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Federal Commissioner, representing Enugu, Mr Ejike Eze said the summit was to broaden the state level support base for successful conduct of the 2023 census.
Eze added that the summit would help to create public awareness on the conduct of the census and provide platform for clarification and feedback.
“This is the first time the Commission is using digital technology for its census, so, we have embarked on massive sensitisation programme for the southeast people.
“We will continue to sensitise the people on the need to participate in the national census for the benefit of the zone,” Eze said.
In his goodwill message, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State said the state would continue to support NPC to ensure successful census for the state next year.
Ugwuanyi represented by his Special Adviser on Information, Mr Steve Oruruo, said the state would continue to sensitise it’s citizens to get themselves counted to enable the state plan.
“Enugu is peaceful and we will continue to provide peaceful environment during and after the census,” Ugwuanyi said. (NAN)