Census: NPC insists on May 3, Ortom demands shift.

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortomm,  has asked the Federal Government to postpone the national population census until all internally displaced persons return to their communities.

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Ortom made the call when he received a delegation from the Middle Belt Forum led by its President, Dr  Bitrus Pogu.

But responding to the call for census postponement, the National Population Commission said it was ready for the exercise scheduled to hold between May 3 and May 5,  adding that people in the IDP camps would be counted.

Ortom, while receiving the MBF delegation, explained that his call for a postponement was hinged on a large number of people of the state that were still in the IDP camps and who might not be counted because they needed to be in their communities before they could participate in the exercise.

He said, “I want to say that the Federal Government should suspend the issue of the census because it looks like the proposed census is coming with an agenda.

“The census should be suspended until the FG is able to restore security and all our IDPs go back to their ancestral lands to give all of them opportunities to be counted in the homes of birth.

“I understand from the National Population Commission that those to be counted must be counted in their localities.

“But then, there is a provision for their usual place of residence. They are not going to lose anything as IDPs, particularly if they are in Nigeria. In any case, most of the Benue IDPs are in Benue State.

“The NPC is prepared for the census. We are working round the clock to ensure that all possible itches are removed and that all the personnel and equipment to be used during the census are in proper shape.”

On his part, the Zamfara State Commissioner of Security,  Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mamman Tsafe, (retd.),  said the census would be held in the state as scheduled despite insecurity challenges.

Tsafe, who spoke to PUNCH on phone said, the state had never called for the suspension of the census because of insecurity.

He said the state government in collaboration with the state office of the NPC  was working to ensure a hitch-free census despite the insecurity challenges affecting the state.

“We are not calling for the suspension of the 2023 census and we are ready to be counted despite the insecurity challenges”.

“The state office of the National Population Commission is working with the security agencies for the peaceful conduct of the 2023 census.”

Also, the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State,  Manir Dan’Iya,  said

the state was ready to ensure a free and credible population census.

The deputy governor stated this while inaugurating the publicity committee of the 2023 population census in the state.

He said, “Sokoto State Government has invested heavily in human capital development, social infrastructure, agricultural development and other socioeconomic activities.

‘’ People need to know that census goes beyond knowing population and geographic identification with information on sex, education, health, employment and migration status.

‘’ Nigeria’s population with housing evaluation will no doubt put value to the data that will be used for human development and planning in all sectors,’’ Dan’iya said.

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But the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union supported the call for the suspension of the census until all internally displaced persons returned to their ancestral homes.

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