Imo prepared for 2023 census exercise, says Uzodimma

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The governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, on Wednesday disclosed that the state was prepared to take part in the April 2023 national census exercise which would be conducted by National Population Commission.

The governor in his remarks at a stakeholders summit on the 2023 Population and Housing Census in Owerri, the state capital, said that a well carried out national census exercise would help the Federal and State Governments formulate and execute policies that would help the citizenry.

Uzodimma said that though the United Nations recommended that a national census exercise ought to be carried out every ten years but he lauded the administration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), for approving that the exercise be undertaken after it was last held in 2016.

The governor said, “National population census is so important that the United Nations recommends that it should be conducted every 10 years. That is ideal, but countries that have peculiar challenges ranging from financial to manpower shortcomings or challenges of difficult topography or insecurity are allowed to work at their pace. But the most important thing is that periodically, a population census is held, instead of relying on rough estimates, which rarely reflect the true population dynamics.

“The importance of a national population census, like I said earlier, cannot be over-emphasized because it helps in planning for the health, demography, social welfare, infrastructure and general sustainability of the society. It serves as a roadmap toward the orderly planning and implementation of government policies and programmes.

“This is so because the population figures obtained should tell, not just how many people are in a country but how old they are their gender, where they live, those who are working and what kind of work they do. These statistics in turn help the government formulate sectoral policies for good governance.

“It is, therefore, heart-warming that the current administration, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, has resolved to hold this census next year, notwithstanding the huge capital outlay and the human resources involved.

“For us in Imo State, we have to be more than prepared for the exercise. Just like we say in local parlance that a cripple is never caught unawares in a planned or scheduled war, we have to be proactive and ready to participate actively in the exercise.

“In previous exercises, it was discovered that our people were either nonchalant or indifferent, and therefore refused to participate in the exercise, on the erroneous belief that it didn’t affect their lives directly. Let me tell you whether the outcome of any census impacts on us negatively or positively. The federal government uses the figures derived from the census for revenue allocation, for planning for the number of health centres, schools and other infrastructure, such as electricity and water, needed for the welfare of the people.

“It is unfortunate that our people had often lost out in the allocation of revenue and other critical infrastructure from the federal government because we had naively failed or refused to participate in the census exercise. When we fail to participate fully in a census exercise, the consequence is that we are undercounted.

“And when we are undercounted, we are shortchanged in the distribution of national resources. Let us today jettison that negative attitude by coming out en masse for the 2023 exercise. It is our civic responsibility as stakeholders to carry this message down to our people and encourage them to participate fully in the national population census exercise.

“Even here in Imo State, a reliable census figure will guide us in policy making and economic planning. For instance, when we know the exact number of youths in the state and what percentage are unemployed, it will help us in designing more effective youth empowerment programmes.

“What we are doing today, therefore, is to sensitize all the people on the need to participate fully in the population census of next year. This meeting is like a train–the–trainers workshop because it is going to be replicated in all the 27 local government areas and the 305 wards in the state.

“Consequently, I hereby direct the sole administrators of the 27 local government areas, to take up the challenge of sensitizing the people on the need to participate in this exercise. All town union presidents should work with their traditional rulers to ensure that the message is spread to the grassroots.

“Unlike the voters’ registration exercise which is open to only those who are 18 years and above, the population census is for everyone, including a day-old baby. What this means is that nobody should be excluded. It has nothing to do with political parties. It has a lot to do with our future – both economically and politically. We must, therefore, take it as our personal project which must succeed.”


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