Two Civil Society Organisations, Save Nigeria Movement (SNM) and College of Bishops Imams and Clergy Councils (CBICC), have described the recent call by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) to scrap the National Population Commission (NPC) as misguided comments that fail to recognise the importance of the Commission by law in gathering accurate population data which is essential for effective governance, resource allocation, and planning for the country’s future.
The CSOs, which advocates for policy reforms and good governance in a statement by the duo of Rev. Solomon Semaka and Bishop Abel Kings, the Convener and National Coordinator of SNM and CBICC respectively expressed shock that a credible organisation like HURIWA has decided to engage in such of promoting an uninformed narrative against the National Population Commission including accusing the Commission of duplicating the duties of other agencies.
Part of the statement reads: “it is the highest height of ignorance to accuse the NPC of duplicating the duties of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), a sister agency that at best offers limited data for a few Nigerians.
To begin with, NPC was established before NIMC so which organisation should be duplicating the other? Is HURIWA accusing the National Assemblies that passed the law establishing the NPC and NIMC for not knowing that the two agencies are duplicating themselves? Are they also insinuating that the Heads of States or Presidents that signed the NPC Bills into law were not updated to have ignored the so called duplicity of functions? Since when has this come to the fore?
”No organisation or individual will compare the data captured by other organisations such as NIMC to that which is obtained by NPC in a proper census exercise. Voters data for example is restricted to adults who are 18 years above. NIMC also keeps a database on Nigerians and issue identify cards to eligible Nigerians who apply for same.
“The National Population Commission(NPC) on the other hand is mandated to collate comprehensive individual, demographic and housing data including a continuous record of vital events”
“How can these distinct agencies duplicate themselves? “Even advanced countries like the USA, UK, France and so on that keep very strict hospital, electoral and immigration records including a functional Social Security system still conduct periodic censuses”
“Does HURIWA think those countries too are just wasting money? Comprehensive and periodic population census goes beyond simple identity registration or voter registration” NPC census exercise further provides detailed demographic information that is indispensable for policymaking, urban planning, infrastructure development, and public service provision and must not be politicised”.
The CSOs maintained that, in deviating from their mandate, HURIWA has constituted itself as a tool in the hands of opposition elements”.
The Commission under the current leadership has judiciously used every resources allocated to it in preparation for the conduct of a national census with impressive results so far for all to see and given the Commission’s frequent media briefings done on the funding and it’s application, this call can only be described as diversionary “
“Without this data, long term sustainable development is impossible no matter the resources available to the federal government. The value of appreciating Nigeria’s population distribution, age structure, employment trends, and educational needs, among other census derivatives is tangential to national development and should not be measured in terms of cost alone”. And in the present circumstances based on available records, the Commission has lived up to expectations”
The group insisted that, instead of advocating for the abolition of the NPC, HURIWA should focus on urging the government to enhance the Commission’s efficiency and transparency. The NPC should be encouraged to implement measures to “streamline data collection processes, improve data quality, and promote public awareness and participation in the census exercise when Mr President eventually fixes a date for the exercise.
“By strengthening the NPC’s capacity, the government can guarantee that the census is conducted efficiently and effectively, thereby maximizing the benefits derived from the exercise”. Scrapping the commission would be detrimental to the country’s progress by undermining effective governance, planning, and resource allocation.
“On accountability of the NPC in terms of funding, the group noted that the Commision has given a breakdown of the funding received so far which covers over 10 years of preparations since the last census exercise” the information is available for everyone to see therefore the repeated calls for accountability amounts to over flogging the matter with intent to mislead Nigerians.
“We urge Mr President to fix a date for the census so as to bring the positive fruits to bear on the nation.”