Odimegwu, others take oath as NPC commissioners
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday expressed worry over population explosion in Nigeria, saying that the Federal Government is mulling a bill to check it.
He said at the swearing-in of the newly appointed chairman and 22 of the 23 commissioners of the National Population Commission (NPC) at the Presidential Villa Abuja that though regulation of population is “very sensitive”, the Federal Government cannot wait until it becomes uncontrollable before facing the menace.
He, therefore, directed the new NPC team to start advocacy campaign on birth control, promising them of government supports and funding.
Nigeria, Jonathan stated, would not be the first country to enact laws to control population growth, warning that religious belief should not be used to frustrate such a good policy.
The new chairman of the NPC is the former Managing Director of Nigeria Brewery PLC, Chief Festus Odumegwu. Others commissioners include three women – Mrs. Roli George, Mrs. Sheyi Olusanya representing (Ogun State) and a former Commissioner in Plateau State, Mrs. Cecilia Dakwot.
Others are Mr. David Danuwa (Adamawa), Mr. Moses Ekpo (Akwa Ibom), Alhaji Mohammed Hamman (Borno), Alhaji Idi Baba Yakubu (Cross River), Dr. Tunde Lakoju (Edo) and Mr. Bala Mogaji (Gombe), Mr. Nwogu Emmanuel (Imo), Alhaji Mohammed Suraju (Kano), Mr. Mohammed Akuboh (Kogi), Alhaji Abubakar Ndake (Kwara), Mr. Zakare Umaru-Kifo (Nasarawa) and Olalere Oyewumi (Osun), Dr. Oluremi Akogun (Ondo), Mr. Donald Wokoma (Rivers), Sen. Anguno Sunday-Zik (Taraba), Prof. Simon Chika (Anambra), Dr. Chima Uzor (Enugu), and Mr. Chris Okereke (Ebonyi). The Commissioner representing Sokoto State, Senator Jubril Gada was absent at the ceremony.
The President, however, said that before legislating on laws controlling birth and population, the government would carry out enough sensitisation.
He went on: “For us to plan properly, we must manage our population, but it is extremely sensitive we are extremely religious people, either you are a Christian or Moslem. Both Christians and Moslems and even traditionalists and all the other religions believe that children are God’s gifts to man. So, it is difficult for you to tell any Nigerian to number their children because they are gifts from God and it is not expected to reject God’s gifts.
“It is a very sensitive thing but we must begin to think about it. We must begin to think about how we manage it. The key thing is that how you will, through your advocacy come up with plans and programmes that as a way of advocacy you begin to encourage Nigerians to have the number of children they can manage before government comes up with clear policies and guidelines.
“First and foremost is the personal consciousness that people should get the family they can manage. Sometimes you get to somebody’s house living in a well-furnished duplex, the husband and wife there may have two, three four children. The man guarding them has nine children. That is the scenario you have. That means there is a segment of the population that knows that you must get a number that you can manage but the other segment of the population doesn’t.
“If you are used to military barracks, you see that the officers, General this, Major General this, Brigadier this, Colonel this have three, five children but those that have no rank have eight, 12. This is the scenario. The people up, probably because of their level of education, know that they must control their population. But the people down, because of the level of exposure and education, are still not aware that you must control your population. So first and foremost, before government comes up with regulations, guidelines or laws, Nigerians must be made to know that we cannot continue to procreate and procreate, even though we know children are God’s gifts.”
Jonathan also told the Commission that they must complete the issuance of national Identity Cards to all eligible Nigerians before the end of 2015.
He decried the situation where government had spent lot of fund on the project without getting results, asking the Commission to liaise with the Presidential Committee on the National Identity Card to ensure its prompt completion.
Jonathan also tasked the Commission to begin the process for the 2016 National Census “because of its importance to national growth. There cannot be genuine sustained development if it is not anchored on accurate and reliable data. No meaningful planning is possible without dependable data and statistics. This informs why we have chosen these distinguished men and women to run the affairs of NPC.”
Charging them to demonstrate the highest standards in the discharge of their duties and avoid primordial divisive tendencies, the President said they should not subject the sensitive issue of census figures and demographics to the expediency of cheap political advantage and political discord.
He, however, commended the immediate past leadership of the Commission for effective 2006 Census and charged the new members to consolidate on the achievements.
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