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    Saturday, April 29, 2023

    FG May Shift Census, Plans Movement Restriction

    Less than a week to the commencement of the national population and housing census, there are rising indications that it may be shifted due to funding and other logistic barriers.

    However, the Chairman of the National Population Commission, Nasir Isa-Kwarra, has disclosed that the commission will meet with the Federal Government on Friday to validate the date for the national population and housing census.

    He said, “The census date is fixed for May 3. We are meeting with the government finally to validate that date tomorrow (Friday), and hopefully, we will be able to let the world know if that May 3 stands or should be shifted.”

    He made this disclosure during a meeting with the Diplomatic Corps in Abuja on Thursday.

    Isa-Kwarra also said that there would be a restriction on movement during the first three days of the National Housing and Population Census.

    The NPC chairman said, “Restriction of movement is often considered as important during enumeration to enhance full coverage of the population. This measure will go a long way to control individual mobility and as such, enumerators are able to meet the households in their residences. The restriction also helps to check double enumeration as it reduces the chances of persons moving from one location to another to present themselves for enumeration more than once.

    “The National Population Commission plans to request the Federal Government of Nigeria for restriction of movement during the first 3 days of Census enumeration.

    “For the 2023 Population and Housing Census, it is scheduled that the first 3 days of enumeration fall on weekdays preferably, Wednesday to Friday so that enumeration can be rounded off in the last two days at the weekend.”

    He, however, said that diplomats and all those who would be on essential duties are to be exempted from restrictions.

    The NPC chairman further disclosed that the commission had yet to get all the devices needed to carry out the census, noting that some devices will be procured in a few days’ time.

    “For the country, we require up to 800,000 PADs, so far, we have procured about 500,000. The remaining are coming in a few days’ time,” Isa-Kwarra said.

    Contacted, the Director of Public Affairs, NPC, Isiaka Yahaya, to speak on the possibility of the census holding, but he said, “No comment”.

    However, he affirmed that there would be a restriction of movement during the census when a date is fixed.

    Consultations ongoing

    On the donations for the census by the private sector and other key stakeholders, he said.

    But you know the way they operate, it is not as if the money will come like that. They have to talk with their own government and look at their budget. So, that process is ongoing. But we cannot say any money has come in. It is a process, and the process is unfolding.”

    A source close to the NPC officer in Edo revealed that the date was likely to be shifted as the Commission is yet to conclude training the supervisors and other key officers that will take part in the headcount exercise.

    He noted that the national office would inform all state offices about this development and announce a new date for the exercise.

    “I can tell you that the census will likely be shifted as the supervisors and other key officers that will take an active part in the head count are yet to be fully trained. However, the commission will announce a new date soon,” the source stated.

    Also, the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, declined a request seeking an order postponing the 2023 Census slated to hold from May 3 to 5.

    The judge, Inyang Ekwo, refused to grant the application, and instead asked the applicant, Omotuyi Ademola, to put the defendant, the NPC on notice.

     Ekwo acknowledged that the applicant’s lawyer moved a motion for an interim injunction to postpone the conduct of the 2023 Census.

    “However, on considering the motion, I am of the opinion that the defendants should be put on notice,” the judge said.

    He, therefore, ordered the counsel for the applicant, Victor Opatola, to put the NPC on notice for the commission to appear in court and show cause why the applicant’s motion should not be granted.

    He adjourned the matter until May 5, for the defendant to show cause.

    Benue female IDPs protest

    Meanwhile, some women from the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps in Benue State on Thursday staged a peaceful protest at the state office of the NPC in Makurdi.

    The office is located at the federal secretariat opposite state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

     The protesting women were demanding the postponement of the forthcoming National Population and Housing Census.

     The women who were armed with typed letters carried placards some of which read, “Don’t erase our existence, we deserve to be counted in our homes and not camps”, “don’t silence our voices, don’t ruga our lands” and “count us in not out, “say no to unfair census practices” among others.

    Leading the protesters, Mrs Laadi Tior, who claimed to be an inmate of Tse Uikpam IDPs camp Guma Local Government Area, said that they embarked on the peaceful protest to draw the attention of the commission to the fact that the planned census may likely leave out the displaced persons.

    She said, “If the census is conducted as planned Benue IDPs would not be counted in their communities and the essence of the exercise would be defeated.”

    “That is the reason we are asking that the census be postponed till we are returned to our ancestral homes where we should be counted because we do not want to be counted in IDPs camps.”

    Also speaking, an inmate from Abagena IDPs camp Makurdi, Mrs Comfort Avaan decried their continuous stay in the camp and called on the government to ensure their safe return to their ancestral homes.

    Receiving the protesting women on behalf of the Federal Commissioner, Mrs Patricia Kupchi the acting State Director, Mr Chris Nege, commended the women for being peaceful in their protest and assured that the issues raised would be tabled before the appropriate authorities through the Federal Commissioner.

    He said, “But to add to that, the commission is not unmindful of the people in the IDP camps. There are plans to count everybody, be they in their usual place of residence or in the IDPs camps, the commission has taken care of that.

    “There are questions in the questionnaire that are specifically designed for IDPs which will capture where they came from and everything, so there is no reason for worry. But all the same, our Federal Commissioner will take your letter to the appropriate authorities.”

    States await materials

    The NPC in Ogun state says it is awaiting Federal Government’s funding for the exercise.

    Chairman Publicity Committee of the commission in the state, Dr Eyitayo Oyetunji, stated this while speaking with one of our correspondents in Abeokuta, on Thursday.

    Eyitayo said training had been ongoing for its ad hoc staff ahead of the commencement of the exercise.

    When asked how prepared is the commission in the state, Oyetunji, said, “We are very prepared for the exercise.”

    On the training of its workers, he said, “The training is a continuous process by the census crew, so, we have done certain levels of training.”

    On whether there is a complaint over unpaid allowances, the spokesperson for the NPC in the state said while some had collected their allowances, others had yet due to issues with bank accounts.

    He said, “The payment process is ongoing. Some functionaries have issues, maybe they didn’t enter the correct bank account numbers, or maybe they have some issues with their banks.

    “So, all those are being sorted, but, the majority have been paid but the remnants that have one or two issues are being sorted out and they are being paid.”

     “We are awaiting the government’s funding to proceed with the process.”

    Also, the National Commissioner for the NPC in Kwara state, Abdulrazaq Gidado, admitted that there were l problems in terms of payment of the allowances of the trained facilitators but the Commission is trying to sort out some things.

    He said, “We have trained the Facilitators who will, in turn, train the Supervisors and the Enumerators and right now a refresher course is going on for the Facilitators, they started their virtual training on Monday this week, but we are yet to commence the training for the Enumerators and this is due to little hike up in the payment of the allowances of some trained facilitators.

    “We have about 26 facilitators whose allowances are yet to be paid and this is due to some factors which included a double payment made to some facilitators who were paid two or three times, some did not present their account details properly while some presented students account which they have been warned against.

    “Efforts are being made to correct this so that those trained as facilitators will be paid their allowances.”

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