By Uduak Akai
Ahead of the 2023 population and housing census, capacity building has been identified as an essential component of the National Population Commission.
The federal commissioner, National Population Commission (NPC), Akwa Ibom State, Chief Benedict Ukpong, made this identification in his address at the Akwa Ibom State Capacity Building Workshop for Management Staff/Community Mobilization Officers (COMOS) of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), and management staff/comptrollers of National Population Commission with the theme “Processes and Methodology for the 2023 Population and Housing Census” held at the conference hall of the Federal Secretariat, Uyo, Thursday.
Ukpong explained further that capacity building as a very important component of the commission’s programmes ensured the optimal performance of its staff to deliver on its mandates and as well afford them the opportunity to compete favourably in a changing and dynamic world, adding that it isa process of equipping staff of an organisation with the aptitudes, techniques and technology to efficiently achieve the organisation’s goals, vision and mission.
The federal commissioner, represented by the state director ofNPC, Mr Emmanuel Edem, empahasised that the workshop sought to build synergy and capacity for aggressive publicity and advocacy for the successful conduct of the 2023 population and housing census, maintaining that to achieve effective sensitization of the greater number of Akwa Ibom citizens and get them involved in the forthcoming census, NPC must seek partnership from relevant agencies and groups to take advocacy and publicity visits to traditional rulers, institutions, faith-based organizations, community leaders, civil society organizations, among others.
The Okete Okete Oro remarked that it was on the basis of the above premise that NPC, Akwa Ibom State, in line with the directives of the national headquatres considered it necessary to engage the management staff and community mobilization officers of NOA in the state to brainstorm on the advocacy and other processes put in place for the 2023 census. He stressed the need for NPC to mobilize the people for the census in order to ensure their support, accuracy,acceptability, creation of a conducive atmosphere, cultivating public ownership of the census exercise, eliminating prejudice and other negative influences as there must be maximum effort to create awareness among the people for census taking to be fair, credible and acceptable.
“Where there is hostility, the advocacy and publicity should emphasize sympathy/empathy; where there is prejudice,emphasis should be on acceptance; where there is apathy, advocacy should be on interest. Where there is ignorance,advocacy and publicity should show knowledge and explanation; where there is opposition, support should be empahasised,” he noted.
The NPC boss reiterated that significant recognition should be given to the role of traditional rulers, community and religious leaders, youths, market women leaders and civil society groups in mobilizing the people for the exercise, while appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the first digital and green census in the country and NPC chairman, Mr Nasir Isa Kwarra, towards the successful conduct of the 2023 census as well as all the stakeholders in Akwa Ibom for their support and partnership in all the pre-censal activities of the commission in the state.
In his address the state director of NPC, Mr Emmanuel Edem, averred that modern society has transformed from the dark (analog) age to a digital age, hence they cannot afford to operate below the expected global best practices, stating that this is the reason NPC has gone through various transformative processes towards conducting the first ever digital and green census in Nigeria come 2023.
Edem, represented by the head of department, Vital registration and Statistics, NPC, Akwa Ibom State, Mr Unyime Akpakpan, re-echoed that the commission cannot achieve success in the forthcoming census without reaching out to stakeholders at various levels with a view to securing their cooperation and support which is the reason a people-oriented organisation like NOA cannot be left out in the commission’s avowed intention to carry out aggressive campaign, advocacy and publicity for the successful conduct of the 2023 census.
The state director expressed optimism that the capacity building workshop would open an extensive discourse among participants and various presentations on the processes and methodology of the 2023 census, urging participants to take advantage of the workshop and contribute their best to achieve a common goal at the end. He thanked the federal commissioner, Chief Benedict Ukpong, for the good work he is doing in the commission; the state director of NOA for accepting to join force with the commission to achieve a credible, reliable and acceptable census come 2023.
In his goodwill message, the minister of information and re-orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, appreciated God for the peace enjoyed in the commission in the state, affirming that the 2023 census would be peaceful and successful as everything has been put in place.
Mohammed who was represented by the director, Federal Ministry of Information, Akwa Ibom State, Miss Christiana Inyang, maintained that without census, nothing can be achieved as census data are used for national planning and development, while appreciating President Buhari for approving the census exercise.
On his part, the director-general, National Orientation Agency, Dr Garba Abari, represented by state director ofNOA, Pastor Enobong Uyoh, explained that the agency has been mandated to work with NPC to ensure the success of a credible, reliable and acceptable census in the country, stressing that census is about data and we are in the data economy which Nigeria cannot be an exemption.
He stated that the 2023 census would be digital and paperless, adding that when census is mentioned, local government areas, units and wards come to mind.
The director-general observed that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) uses data to step up population and data is also the indices used during states, wards and local government areas creation, advising all to take the exercise seriously and sued for a cordial relationship between the comptroller and COMOS in order to achieve success.
The workshop featured papers presentation from eminent scholars as well as interactive, question and answers, comments, contribution sessions.
In attendance were comptrollers and COMOS in the 31 local government areas of the state.
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