By Peter Duru
The National Population Commission, NPC, has selected three Local Government Areas, LGAs in Benue State for the conduct of the First Pre-Test for the next Population and Housing Census in the state.
The LGAs selected includes Makurdi, Ohimini and Tarka while the Enumerated Areas, EAs, selected for the exercise in the three LGAs are Makurdi in Makurdi LGA, Otoje and Ehatokpe in Ohimini LGA and Wannune and Mbanyor in Tarka LGA.
The NPC Federal Commissioner for Benue state, Mrs. Patricia Kupchi made this known Tuesday in Makurdi at a media briefing intimating of the commencement of Field work and First Pre-Test for the next Population and Housing Census in the state.
Mrs Kupchi who appealed to the people of the state to give massive support, cooperation as well as encouragement to enumerators and officials deployed for the exercise noted that it was imperative for such supports to be extended to the officials since the state would benefit immensely from the exercise.
Giving insight into the the importance of the exercise the Commissioner explained that “the conduct of Pre-Test is aimed at testing the census methodology, the questionnaires, data collection methods, the manuals for field staff, instruction manuals, data editing and coding, data processing and tabulation in preparation for the actual census.
“In this pre-test exercise, some selected Enumeration Areas in some of the LGAs in States of the Federation demarcated between 2016-2018 will be utilised and the census instruments will be deployed to these areas to test run their suitability and readiness for the actual census.”
She explained that pursuant its constitutional mandate, the NPC has “intensified the Enumeration Area Demarcation, EAD, activity with 630 LGAs successfully demarcated from the pilot phase to the more recent completion of phase 14 EAD exercise.
“Out of the 630 LGAs successfully demarcated nationwide, 16 are from Benue State. In the next phase of the EAD exercise expected to commence June 14, 2021,Okpokwu and Ogbadibo LGAs in the state will be demarcated and Makurdi LGA, earlier demarcated in 2016, will be updated.
“The Commission intends to complete the demarcation of all the 774 LGAs of the entire country in the next three months. Pre-Test exercise is usually conducted before the completion of the Enumeration Area Demarcation exercise.
“In essence, the Pre-Test exercise is a critical part of the census planning process which provides the opportunity to test all aspect of the census programme and instruments in advance of the main censal activities, thus ensuring the smooth operation and success of the census.”
While explaining the aims and objectives of the 2021 Pre-Test exercise Mrs. Kupchi stated that it would among others help the Commission assess the quality and usefulness of the Enumeration Areas maps already created.
“It will help the commission assess and know the demographic and geographic changes that have occurred in the EAs created in 2016-2018 and their implications for census enumeration, uploading of EA maps on census PDAs for census enumeration, the relationship between EAD estimated population and pre-test population.
“To assess the educational and other qualifications of potential census enumerators, the workload of the enumerators as well as logistical support from the States and LGAs.”
According to her, “the 1st Pre-Test exercise will take place in 222 Enumeration Areas (EAs) in 112 LGAs accross the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT that were demarcated during the 2016-2018 Enumeration Area Demarcation exercise.
“It will involve a total of 894 field functionaries comprising; 444 Enumerators, 37 Supervisors, 37 IT Supervisors, 37 Field Coordinators, 37 State Coordinators, 37 Monitors from the Headquarters, 37 Monitors from the State and 6 Coordinators.”
The Federal Commissioner noted that in Benue State “the team is made up of 12 enumerators, one supervisor, one ICT supervisor, one field coordinator, one GIS supervisor, one National Co-ordinator and one Technical assistant.”
She stated that the full mobilization to the field and the actual Pre-test commenced June 6 and would last till June 13, 2021.
The Federal Commissioner who commended Governor Samuel Ortom for his unrelenting support and generosity to the Commission in the state also lauded LGA Chairmen, Lawmakers, security agencies, community leaders and individuals in providing unquantifiable support and assistance to ensure that the EAD activity proceeded smoothly.
She appealed for more support to the Commission and its scheduled activities in the state to ensure a successful enumeration exercise in the state.
Mrs. Kupchi also cautioned that “the Pre-Test is not the actual census but the mirror through which we look at our readiness for the next census. All efforts must be geared towards making it a huge success by all.
“The exercise is part of the preparation of the Commission to create good foundation for the next Population and Housing census which will be credible, reliable and acceptable to the country and other stakeholders.
“I therefore wish to appeal to the respondents in the selected LGAs and EAs to extend maximum cooperation to the interviewers and answer all the questions truthfully.
“All information volunteered will be treated with utmost confidentiality and will not be divulged for any other purpose. I also wish to appeal to the Local Government Councils, our respected traditional rulers, community leaders, religious leaders and the State Government to continue to support the Commission in this noble endeavour.
“We shall continue to appreciate the assistance of these stakeholders in enlightening the respondents particularly in the selected States/LGAs/EAs as well as areas of logistics in terms of accommodation and transportation for the field functionaries,” she said.
The Federal Commissioner who also assured that all necessary steps had been taken to ensure that field functionaries were properly kitted and trained to observe all protocols throughout the period of the Pre-Test exercise as prescribed by the Presidential Steering Committee, PSC, on COVID -19 urged members of the public to observed all the safety measures.