Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has faulted the population figures attributed to the state by the National Population Commission (NPC), saying they were grossly under-estimated.
Governor Diri also said the current population data for the country were inaccurate and called on the NPC to correct past census figures in the 2023 national census exercise.
The governor stated this during the Stakeholders Summit on the twenty twenty three Population and Housing Census held at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall in Government House, Yenagoa.
Buttressing his claim, Governor Diri stressed that the state had grown beyond the current structure of eight local government areas, noting that the projected population of Yenagoa, the state capital, points to the fact that the state’s population was misrepresented.
The governor said such faulty census figures were responsible for the under-representation of Bayelsa in the House of Representatives with only five members.
Governor Diri emphasized that due to its tremendous growth and contribution to the national economy as a result of its oil resources, Bayelsa deserved more federal presence.
He said the NPC needed to realize that an accurate census was critical to the nation’s democracy and economy because it underpins fair representation in government and enable those in authority make appropriate funding for healthcare, schools, roads and other critical infrastructure.
The state’s helmsman added that population figure was one of the basic parameters in the sharing of revenue, particularly in Nigeria.
In an address, Federal Commissioner, National Population Commission in charge of Bayelsa State, Mrs Gloria Izonfuo, hinted that the 2023 census would be fully digitalized in line with United Nations principles and recommendations for the twenty-twenty Round of Population and Housing Censuses.
Mrs. Izonfuo, who was a former Head of Service in Bayelsa, said the Commission had deployed technology to conduct the exercise and enhance data quality.
She expressed the Commission’s commitment to deliver credible and reliable census as well as ensuring that the results of the exercise are acceptable to Nigerians and the quality of the data to be generated meets international standards for planning and developmental purposes.
Mrs. Izonfuo added that the stakeholders summit was the first of several meetings to be held in the state and thanked the government and people of the state for the support to the Commission.
In their goodwill messages, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Abraham Ingobere, Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, Mr. Ben Okolo and Chairman, Bayelsa State Founding Fathers, Chief Benedict Gwembe, said population census was strategic to enable government plan for every sector, including creation of more voting centres in the country.
They also stressed the need for more census enumerators to be deployed in the rural areas as well as provide sensitization on the need for people to participate in the process.
They assured the Commission of their support to assist it conduct hitch-free and successful twenty-twenty three national population and housing census.