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FG Told To Suspend 2023 Census

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has called on the Federal Government to suspend the conduct of the 2023 National Population Census.

The governor cited security concerns and the need to ensure adequate participation by internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The Governor made the appeal during a meeting with a delegation from the Middle Belt Forum in Makurdi.

Governor Ortom expressed concerns that the IDPs in Benue and other parts of the country would not be able to participate in the census exercise because they need to be in their localities to be counted.

According to him, the federal government must ensure adequate security for the IDPs in Benue and elsewhere in the country to return to their homes before the census is conducted.

“I want to say that the Federal Government should suspend the issue of census because it looks like the proposed census is coming with an agenda. So, until they are 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. Because I understand from the National Population Commission that those to be counted must be counted in their localities,” Governor Ortom said.

The Governor also lamented the sustained attacks on Benue communities by herdsmen, which he said had led to the loss of over 6,000 lives and billions of naira worth of property.

He accused the federal government of doing little to address the issue and called on both leaders and citizens to correct the injustice, bias, and tribalism ongoing in the country.

In his remarks, the President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, urged the federal government to suspend the census exercise, saying it was coming with a hidden agenda.

He also condemned the activities of herdsmen in the Middle Belt, accusing them of killing people and renaming villages.

“We will not cede our land to anyone. No portion of our land will be ceded to anyone. It will not be allowed. That should not be allowed to happen. Our land is our heritage,” Dr Pogu said.

The National Population Commission had earlier announced that the census exercise would hold in May 2023.

The exercise is aimed at providing reliable demographic data for planning and development purposes in the country.

It is not yet clear if the Federal Government will heed Governor Ortom’s call to suspend the census exercise.

However, the Governor’s concerns about the participation of IDPs and the need for adequate security measures are likely to resonate with many Nigerians, given the prevailing security challenges in the country.

This article was updated 4 weeks ago

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