Provide accurate census data, Deputy Speaker Kalu charges NPC

Provide accurate census data, Deputy Speaker Kalu charges NPC

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Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, charged the newly inaugurated commissioners on the Board of the National Population Commission (NPC) on Sunday to ensure that the next census will give the actual statistics of Nigeria’s population.

He said that knowing the figure was essential to economic planning and the spread of infrastructure across the country.

The Deputy Speaker said that it was not right to continue to hazard a guess about the country’s population each time the issue arises, stressing that it was time the narrative was changed for good.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Levinus Nwabughiogu, stated that Kalu gave the charge at the inauguration dinner of the federal commissioner representing Abia State at the NPC Board, Chief Emmanuel Trump Eke, over the weekend in Abuja.

It will be recalled that Eke was among the 17 appointees inaugurated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

In his admonition, Kalu said: “The charge to you people as commissioners is, to be honest, we don’t know our number in Nigeria. We cannot keep claiming we are the giants of Africa when we don’t have accurate statistics of our actual number as a nation. It’s embarrassing. Each time they ask you about your population, you say about…When are we going to drop this “about” and that descriptive thing from our number?

“You people should make it exact. When we call Ogun State, you tell us the number. We call Abia, you tell us. Total number in the South East, you give us. Total in the South West, North West, South South, etc., you give us so that we can plan because economic planning without actual knowledge of the population is a waste of time because you might plan for a few and the infrastructure will be overused by the much you did not capture.

“So, the root of our economic planning is knowing our number and knowing the demography, so that when we want to do project allocation, the spread will be guided by the population. So, the census is what you have to do as a service to this nation.

“Push it hard and make sure that when the result comes, Nigerians will be glad to say yes, we are 250 million, but I can assure you that by the time you are done, we might be 300 million because we projected that we are going to be, I think, the 4th most populous nation in a few coming years, and every nation in the world is looking towards Nigeria for investment because they know the market is there.”

Hon. Kalu also commended President Tinubu for running an all-inclusive government and appointing the Igbo to coveted positions of authority despite receiving a poor number of votes from the region in the last presidential election.

He expressed gratitude to the Igbo for not participating in the recent protest against the present administration over economic hardship.

The Deputy Speaker, who stated that the hardship was not principally created by Tinubu’s government, revealed that the administration is finding lasting solutions to the problems, especially amid the removal of fuel subsidies, which he said gave only the prosperity of the “white-washed sepulchre.”.

He called on the people of the South East to reciprocate the kind gesture of the administration by supporting the government, recognising that their own were involved in the leadership.

Hon. Kalu stressed that the support will also encourage the President to assent to the South East Development Commission bill sponsored by him for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the region, adding that the President and his team are intentional about giving the South East a sense of belonging.

“This President has shown us love despite the fact that we did not vote as we ought to have voted. He has shown us great love, and it’s about time we also started reciprocating the way we support the government in words and in action.

“And I want to thank all of you here who are Igbo people who supported not going on protest. When the calls came that the Igbos were not joining the protest, we said no. We are not protesting. I am proud of you. I want to thank you.

“The President gave us the Chief of Naval Staff, an Igbo man from Enugu. He gave us the Minister of Works from Ebonyi. The President came to Abia and gave us the number 6 citizenship of the country. The President gave the Chairman of the Governor’s Forum to Imo State. The President gave a lot of ministers from the South East opportunities to head some ministries, like Science and Technology and all the rest of them. The way to pay him back is to support him and make sure that we help stabilise national loyalty and increase national cohesion.

“We are working hard to ensure that most of you are strategically positioned. We are working hard to make sure that businesses owned by you are supported. What was not accessible to the Igbos before, we are pushing now for you to access them, leveraging this office. So, let’s be patient,” Hon. Kalu said.

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