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By Darlington UDOBONG

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, on Friday, flagged off the phase-5 Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) exercise, South-South, for National Population and Housing Census in ONNA Local Government Area.
Represented by the member representing ONNA State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Otuekong Nse Essien, Governor Emmanuel commended officials of the National Population Commission (NPC) for their commitment, steadfastness and sacrifice in their service to the nation.
He thanked the people for their cooperation and advised them to be readily available for the exercise anytime their attention is needed, adding that their commitment was necessary as the essence of the exercise is to aid development and planning.
In his remarks, the Special Adviser in the Bureau of Political/Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Barrister Ekong Sampson, said the EAD exercise being a prelude to the conduct credible, reliable and acceptable national population and housing census, is critical to national planning and sustainable development. He said the import of census to a nation cannot be overemphasized, asserting that Nigeria will begin to get it right when she can generate a validly acceptable census result.
The Special Adviser said census just like national identity and voter’s registration has no political party. He therefore charged the people of the State to disregard their political persuasion in responding to such programmes, as they are geared toward data generation for development planning.
He described Governor Udom Emmanuel’s keen interest and support for such programmes in the State as a further demonstration of capacity, patriotism and visionary leadership.
Barrister Sampson said the Bureau has been working with other political party chieftains to drive such national programmes as the Continuous Voter Registration, National ID Card Scheme and particularly cited the good working relationship between the Bureau and the National Population Commission in the State, headed by an APC Chieftain, Engr. Benedict Ukpong.
He urged that the friendly and hospitable disposition which the Onna people are known for should be sustained, while soliciting maximum support to officials of both National Population Commission and Independent National Electoral Commission to enhance the task of moving Onna Local Government Area to a greater height.
Also speaking, the Federal Commissioner of National Population Commission, Engr. Benedict Ukpong, appreciated Governor Udom Emmanuel for his support for population matters and the Special Adviser in the Bureau for his effort in ensuring the successes recorded in the previous phases of the EAD projects in the State.
According to the NPC Commissioner, the commission like in the previous phases has been working with the Independent National Electoral Commission to delineate existing wards or registration area boundaries in the LGA for election purposes, as well as registration of births and issuance of certificates.
Engr. Ukpong, however, clarified that for the purpose of the ongoing research by the UNICEF, a technical partner of the Commission for the EAD, birth registration and certification will be limited to children of 0-59 months, in the fifth phase of the exercise.
The Chairman of ONNA Local Government Council, Mr. Imo Attat, assured the NPC officials of the cooperation of the people of the area towards the success of the exercise. He also assured of the safety and security of field workers.
In a goodwill message, Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Elder Patrick Albert said the media remains a very important component in the development of the society and promised the support of the media to boost the awareness and overall success of the exercise in the State.

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