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UNFPA restates importance of census to Nigeria

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has reiterated the importance of conducting the Population and Housing Census.

Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr Natalia Kanem, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja, during a meeting with the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Kwarra.

Dr Kanem is visiting Nigeria for the regional inauguration of the 2024 State of World Population (SWOP) Report.

The report, which would be inaugurated on Wednesday in Abuja, highlights the progress made and the work left to be done since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994.

During the meeting with Kwarra, Kanem said it was important to “count everyone because everyone counts.

“Moreover, for that mother who needs to register the birth for that statistic, the vital statistics issues, having population data is going to make it easier for the district person.

“For the local governments to be able to manage understanding, where does this adolescent girl live? How can we bring the school closer to her doorstep?

“Population is not just numbers, it is the people and this is what the people of the commission represent.”

She also urged the commission to help Nigerians depoliticise census activity.

Dr Kanem commended the long-standing partnership and collaboration the fund and the commission have, adding that she was proud of the fund’s investments to ensure that the preparations for the census were made.

“We had the opportunity to advocate for the budget and for the speedy introduction of the census and I do hope that as we spoke to the high level people today that they would also take forth the advocacy.”

She however urged the commission to continue to advocate for the adolescent girls who are not only falling pregnant but dying in maternal mortality statistics.

She urged the commissioners to figure out how to speak to the men and women in their states to protect the lives of the adolescent girls and encourage them to finish their education.

“That is the magic bullet. If every girl finishes her secondary school education, the economy prospers, the family also prospers.

“She can figure out how to put the shoes on the feet. I think for men who have a lot of decision making authority, to support the adolescent girl is the most beautiful thing.

“When you know your father is supporting you that gives you the confidence to be able to say no to bad behaviour, and to be able to hold your head up and become a fully-fledged member of society.”

She, however, assured of the fund’s continuous support to the commission.

In his address, Kwarra said that her visit to Nigeria to inaugurate the report shows her interest in Nigeria and commitment to accurate data that would improve the quality of life and standard of living of Nigerian people.

Speaking about the planned census, he appreciated UNFPA’s continued support for the nation’s population policy.

According to him, the support has enabled the nation to strengthen its capacity for data-driven decision-making and evidence-based policymaking.

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