Accurate Population Figure Necessary For Development Plan – Hon. Kalu

ABUJA – Only accurate statistics on Nigeria’s population will enhance development plan, House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, has said.

He challenged the National Population Commission (NPC) to come up with accurate figures, describing as an irony that Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, has no definite figure on its actual population.

According to him, working with estimates does not agur well for the country.

The lawmaker, who spoke at a dinner organized in honour of the federal commissioner representing Abia State at the NPC, Emmanuel Trump Eke, said knowing the figure was essential to economic planning and the spread of infrastructure.

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 is changed for good.

He said: “To be honest, we don’t know our number in Nigeria. We cannot keep claiming we are the giant of Africa when we don’t have an accurate statistics of our actual number as a nation. It’s embarrassing.

“Each time they ask you of your population, you said about…When are we going to drop this ‘about’, that descriptive thing to 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 Southeast, you give us. Total in the Southwest, Northwest, Southsouth, 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.

“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. 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 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.”

He commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for running an all-inclusive government, appointing Igbos to coveted positions of authority despite receiving 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.

Kalu who said the hardship in the land was not principally created by the Tinubu’s government revealed that the government was doing everything possible to find lasting solutions to the problems, especially in amidst of the removal of fuel subsidy which he said gave only the prosperity of the “white washed sepulcher”.

He called on his Southeast kinsmen to reciprocate the President’s gesture by supporting the government, recognizing that their own were involved in the leadership.

The lawmaker said that such support will encourage the President to assent to the Southeast Development Commission Bill 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.

Kalu said: “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 Igbos are not joining the protest, that Igbos should join the protest. We said no. We are not protesting. I am proud of you. I want to thank you.

“The President gave us 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 number 6 citizen of the country. The President gave the Chairman of Governor’s Forum to Imo State.

“The President gave a lot of ministers from the Southeast 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 stabilize 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 were not accessible to the Igbos before, we are pushing now for you to access them, leveraging this office. So, let’s be patient.”

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