Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has faulted the population figures attributed to the state by the National Population Commission (NPC), saying they were grossly underestimated.
The governor also said the current population data for the country was inaccurate and called on the NPC to correct past census figures in the 2023 national census exercise.
Governor Diri stated this on Tuesday during the Stakeholders Summit on the 2023 Population and Housing Census held at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall in Government House, Yenagoa.
Buttressing his claim, the governor stressed that the state had grown beyond the current structure of eight local government areas, noting that, for instance, the projected population of Yenagoa, the state capital, points to the fact that the state’s population was misrepresented.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that such faulty census figures were responsible for the under-representation of Bayelsa in the House of Representatives with only five members.
Senator Diri emphasised 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: “By the 2006 census figures, Bayelsa had a population of 1,704,515. That figure was not correct. But we are hopeful that the next exercise will give a more reliable and acceptable figure.
“Our government is convinced that the National Population Commission has the commitment and capacity to deliver to Nigerians and, indeed, to Bayelsa State very credible, reliable, valid and acceptable population figures.
“As a government, we are deeply concerned that Bayelsa has grown beyond the current structure of eight local governments. Clearly, we are under-represented in the House of Representatives with only five members. And the current projected population of Yenagoa points to these facts. Due to our exponential growth and contributions to the national economy from our oil resources, we deserve more federal presence.”
Diri said the NPC should realise that an accurate census is critical to the nation’s democracy and economy because it underpins fair representation in government and enables those in authority to provide appropriate funding for healthcare, schools, roads and other critical infrastructure.
The governor described population figures as one of the basic parameters in the sharing of revenue, particularly in Nigeria.
In her address, the Federal Commissioner, National Population Commission in charge of Bayelsa State, Mrs Gloria Izonfuo, hinted that the 2023 census would be fully digitalised in line with United Nations principles and recommendations for the 2020 Round of Population and Housing Censuses.