From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
The Federal Commissioner representing Abia State at the National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Nwabuisi Nwanne has said Biafra agitators should not have any reason to disrupt next year’s census exercise in the state.
Nwanne who spoke in Umuahia while responding to a question during press briefing on the conduct of “Trial Census” for the 2023 Population and Housing census, said what happened in the state during the 2006 census exercise where some people were discouraged from being subjected to be counted on account of being Biafrans and not Nigerians, should not be allowed to repeat.
“We had a situation in 2006 where a group agitating for Biafra sold a dummy to people in the state not to present themselves to be counted during that year’s census exercise as they were not Nigerians and that impacted negatively on the state population after the exercise as it made Abia to be under-counted”.
Nwanne said the beauty of next year’s exercise was that even if any group was clamouring for a referendum for Biafra, the population the world body would rely on, would be that conducted by Nigeria.
“Even if any group agitating for Biafra is clamouring for a referendum, the population the United Nations will be relying on for such exercise, will be the one conducted by Nigeria and that is why everybody should come out and be counted instead of the other way round.
“Abia suffered in the last census, at the end of the enumeration, the population of state was said to be 2.8 million, which was far from what the figure should be”.
To ensure a credible census figure, the NPC federal Commissioner said the Commission was going to do away with paperwork, but will be going digital, anchored on Personal Data Assessment (PDA).
“Presently, we are at “Trial census”, testing our equipment and applications, to be sure they are in good conditions, so that when the census exercise begins next year, we will not make any mistakes as we’re projecting to have 100 percent or near 100 percent correct census.
Abia State coordinator of the trial census, Mr. Adebayo Olayide said nine local government areas in the state were chosen for the exercise, based on three par Senatorial zone.
He said the exercise would assist the Commission in identifying the problems they would encounter during the main exercise, with a view to correcting them.
The state director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okechukwu commended NPC for starting on a good note by collaborating with sister agencies to ensure the success of the census exercise.
She promised that her agency would assist in mobilizing people with regard to the exercise.
Abia traditional rulers represented by Eze Godfrey Onwuka regretted that apart from Abia being grossly under-counted during the last census exercise, but that it also lost out when it went to court as a result of lack of demographic records.
He called on all Abians to present themselves to be counted in next year’s census exercise.