The National Population Commission (NPC) has said its attention has been drawn to reported statements in news media credited to the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and the President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu calling on the Federal Government to postpone the 2023 Population and Housing Census slated to be conducted from 3rd to 7th May 2023 due to fear of exclusion of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the census exercise.
The Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Isiaka Yahaya hinted that the two respected stakeholders asked the Federal Government to provide adequate security for the IDPs in Benue and elsewhere in the country to enable them to return to their usual places of residence before the 2023 Census will be conducted.
He said Governor Ortom further stated that close to two million indigenes of Benue State who are in the IDP camps would not be counted if the Census is carried out as scheduled.
“While the Commission condemns the conflicts in Benue which have led to increase in the number of displaced persons, it, however, wishes to state unequivocally that everyone resident in Nigeria at the time of the 2023 Census exercise will be counted, including the non-Nigerians, Internally Displaced Persons and homeless people. The aim is to leave no one behind in order to ensure inclusive, credible and acceptable census data.
“The 2023 Census methodology has a robust and tested procedure for the enumeration of the IDPs in Nigeria, which is also in line with the international best standard. The methodology devised is not just for counting persons in regular households but also for those who stay in irregular households such as people in transit, homeless persons and temporary living camps. The census questionnaire will elicit information on the usual places of residence of people in IDP camps, that is where they stayed before the displacement. This data can be accessed in case of a possible change in status to aid the planning process of their respective usual places of residence” he said.
According to Dr. Isiaka, it is gratifying to note that every land area of the country including the IDP camps has been demarcated into Enumeration Areas (EAs). He stated that the mandate of the enumerators during the census period will be to count every person in the assigned Enumeration Areas and the aggregation of all the persons counted during the census will constitute the population figures of Nigeria.
“More importantly, the prevalence of the IDPs rather than being ground for postponement of the 2023 Census should actually be the reason for census taking. The 2023 Census will generate demographic data that governments at all levels, private sectors, international development partners and relief agencies will require to plan for the provision of food items, empowerment and social facilities to people in IDP camps.
The Commission solicits the maximum cooperation and support of all residents of Nigeria in its effort to conduct the first digital and green census by presenting themselves to be counted in the exercise once and truthfully” he concluded.
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