Delta State Government has underscored the pivotal role of Census for the generation of data necessary for national planning and sustainable development.
Presenting the Keynote address on behalf of His Excellency the Governor of Delta State, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Patrick Ukah during the 2023 Population and Housing Census State Stakeholders Summit, held at the Government House, affirmed the importance of robust and quality deliberations towards a successful census.
The Governor said that accurate census data were needed to rejig the nation’s economic policies and tackle security challenges currently bedeviling the nation.
He averred that having held the last census in 2006, it was imperative for the nation to have organised another one after a 10 years interval; maintaining however, that this one holding now after 16 years would be expected to produce evidence based statistics for sustainable national planning and development.
The Governor further affirmed that the country having been denied of the huge benefits of evidence based demographic data to plan her economy these past years, the State was however, convinced that the National Population Commission had got the capacity to conduct a reliable and credible census in 2023.
Adding that though It’s a national event, the Governor nonetheless, said the census cannot be left in the hands of the Federal Government alone to handle.
His words, “We must all be involved to make the 2023 National Census a success. We must divorce politics from the process, because this is not the time to play politics.
“This is an opportunity to tell the story of our population by getting involved. Let this not be an exercise of frivolity, we must carry the message to our people as stakeholders, to sensitize them and get them prepared to adequately participate in this national event”, the Governor said.
Moreover, he assured the NPC and all stakeholders of the irrevocable commitment of the State Government to ensure the success of the 2023 census in Delta State and beyond.
Meanwhile, the Federal Commissioner representing Delta State in the National Population Commission, Sir Richard Odibo gave the roadmap of the journey so far ahead of the national census in April 2023.
He said that the Stakeholders Summit marked a good beginning for the first time a Digital Census is about to take place in 2023, adding that “this underscores the importance of demographic data for planning and development”.
Odibo recalled that on 11th August, 2022, a national stakeholders summit was convened in Abuja to create awareness on the 2023 Digital Census, maintaining that this particular one on the 13th October, 2022, was holding across the states of the Federation and FCT Abuja, which would equally trickle down to the Local Government Areas in due time.
He declared unequivocally that the Commission was committed to ensuring that the result of the census meet the International best practices and be accepted by all and sundry.
Earlier in his address, the State Director of NPC, Mr. Patrick Okonkwo Lotobi defined the essence of the Stakeholders Summit, which he said was to sensitize the Stakeholders and bring them to speed with the activities of the Commission leading to the 2023 census and conversely, to receive feedback from them in terms of suggestions and advice.
The Director said the census would provide accurate data of persons and houses which would be analysed for the purpose of planning and development.
He therefore spoke confidently on the readiness of the Commission for a fully digitized census, reiterating that the approval of the Council of State meant that a thorough job that would stand a test of time must be done.
Lotobi commended the Delta State Government for supporting the NPC to enjoy a robust Summit outing in Delta State, there by confirming that the state had already been demarcated 100 percent.
He said, “A successful census can’t be possible without the involvement of critical stakeholders and that is why this Summit was convened to further strengthen our effort towards a reliable, credible and acceptable 2023 census. Your presence underscores the importance of this census”, he finalised.
As the Guest Speaker for the Summit, Prof. Efe Sunday Ighovie defined Population as the number of persons that live in a geographical setting.
He spoke on “The Imperatives of the 2023 Population and Housing Census”, thereby x-raying the history, misconceptions and gains of census for proper national planning and sustainable development.
Prof. Ighovie revealed that the first ever census in Nigeria was conducted in 1865 only for Lagos Colony.
He said the second census being a national census in 1952-3 was disputed, the 1963 edition highly politicised, while that of 2006 was credible but now overtaken by events.
He insisted that by law, national census is expected to hold every 10 years but was breached as a result of five years delay.
Giving an academic projection of census, Prof. Ighovie maintained that the 2023 census is essential for governmental planning on the basis of how development should be distributed.
Other stakeholders who gave goodwill messages included the Head of Service of Delta State representing the Delta State Workforce, Mr. Reginald Bayoko, the immediate past Chairman of Delta State Traditional Rulers Council and Obi of Owa Kingdom representing the traditional institution, HRM Obi Emmanuel Efeizomor, the SSA to the Governor representing the Civil Society Organisations, Mr. Rex Anigoro, the State Director of NOA on behalf of the National Orientation Agency, Mr. Chris Anyabuine, the State Coordinator of WHO on behalf of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Faith Iroye and others.
At the end of the official flag off of the ceremony with the theme: “Getting People Involved”, the Summit went into technical session with various lecturers handling different topics pertaining to Pre-Enumeration, Enumeration and Post Enumeration processes and of course, the Digital knowledge required to drive the 2023 census.