Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Task Before Eze Duruiheoma, New Chairman of National Population Commission

Eze Duruiheoma, the new Chairman of the National Population Commission, NPC.

The Task Before Duruiheoma

~ By  Ingram   Osigwe

When service to fatherland beckons and tough task has to be handled, men with patriotic fervor do not shy away; they stand to be counted. This tells why Generals only retire but never tired because they spring to action and are called to defend their fatherland when threatened with conquest by enemies. Eze Duruiheoma, the new Chairman of the National Population Commission, NPC fits this characterisation.

Duruiheoma has paid his dues in the bar and has also served his fatherland in other capacities. But the Imo State born Legal luminary is now saddled with a different kind of service to Nigeria; the very challenging task of heading the Nigerian Population Commission (NPC).

Last December when President Goodluck Jonathan named him Nigeria’s Chief population enumerator and was immediately confirmed by the Senate, Duruiheoma was not under the illusion that his new job was a picnic. And as he formally takes charge of the NPC, Eze Duruiheoma is also not unmindful of the huge expectations of Nigerians on him. His appointment as the NPC boss is in tandem with President Jonathan’s desire to embark upon the issuance of National Identity Card to all Nigerians.

Therefore, the new NPC Chairman is aware of the huge, challenging job ahead of him. He does not need to be reminded that the task of conducting acceptable country-wide population census in a diverse and politically charged country like Nigeria is a no mean one. President Jonathan also has the presence of mind to recognize this hence he went for one of the nation’s best brains and a team player as NPC boss. Duruiheoma is aware that credible census figure is key to peace and stability in an emerging economy and multi-ethnic society like Nigeria. A population and housing census is the total process of collecting, compiling, analysis and publishing and disseminating data on demographic, economic and social conditions of the people as well as the conditions under which they live at specific period of time. Census is the primary source of the basic benchmark statistics on the population and housing characteristics of the nation. It provides information on population size, age and sex composition, geographic distribution and housing characteristics and facilities bearing on the social aspect of the nation.
With Duruiheoma at the driver’s seat of the NPC, the fundamental purpose of census is expected to be his and his team’s guiding light. Essentially, another cardinal purpose of census is to provide the facts essential to government for policy-making, planning and administration. The characteristics of the population drive the decision making that facilitates the development of socio-economic policies that will enhance the welfare of the population.

The Duruiheoma -led NPC, no doubt will have it at the back of their minds that population census provides important data for the analysis and appraisal of the changing pattern of rural/urban movement and concentration, the development of urbanized area, geographical distribution of the population according to such variables as occupation and education, as well as the socio-economic characteristics of the population and the labour force. These variables also provide the basis of question of scientific interest that are of importance both to pure research and for solving practical problems of industrial and commercial growth and management.

As former Chairman of the Imo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eze Duruiheoma has been a manager of men and resources, it is therefore expected that he would have no problem providing efficient leadership to the NPC. And as the man who would superintendent Nigeria’s next population census, he will be bringing this wealth of experience to bear in handling the exercise.

Obviously, the President was guided in his choice of Duruiheoma as the boss of a sensitive government agency like the NPC by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN’s) tenacity of purpose.

Duruiheoma is also a unifying factor. This could be gleaned from the way he was able to weld Imo PDP together after inheriting a severely fractured party in the state.

The new NPC boss’ taciturn nature does not in any way dwarf his doggedness. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, during Senate’s screening of Duruiheoma and other members of the Commission, described the new NPC helmsman as a man of good character and a team player who is hugely knowledgeable. What it therefore means is that President Jonathan needed a man with tenacity of purpose and dogged spirit to drive a hydra-headed octopus organization like the NPC, the very character traits the man Duruiheoma replaced, Eze Festus Odimegwu possessed.  . And he found that in Duruiheoma. It is gratifying and to the credit of Mr. President that following the resignation of Odimegwu, one of Ndigbo’s nay Imo’s best, as the NPC Chairman, he (President Jonathan) found another bright Imo son worthy of replacing him. The huge expectations on Duruiheoma is why failure on his part is not an option.

As Nigerian’s Chief population enumerator, Duruiheoma is aware that the 2016 census must be got right because population size and characteristics aid in influencing the location of businesses and services that satisfy the need of the target population census, the 2016 census inclusive. It also constitutes the principal source of records for use as a sampling frame for household surveys during the years between census.

Senate President, David Mark probably thought this way when he advised Duruiheoma and his team to take their jobs serious because according to him, population is a very important issue. “We do not want inflated census figures and we do not want our population to be underestimated so you must live up to expectation”, Mark told the new NPC boss and his team. Eze Duruiheoma, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), hails from the same Orlu zone, of Imo State as his successor, Odimegwu.

Ingram  Osigwe  wrote  from  Umuopia – Akokwa  in Imo State.

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