Census chief, Odimegwu, suspended by FG over comments

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The recent comments of the Chairman of the National Population Commission, Chief Festus Odimegwu, in which he alleged that the 2006 census was forged in every state has earned him a query from the Presidency.

It was gathered in Abuja on Tuesday that the Presidency felt the comments negated his position   as the NPC boss.

A source in the Presidency said, “Odimegwu was queried over some comments that were credited to him in the newspapers.”

There are rumours that the Presidency might have gone ahead to suspend him, although it was denied by Odimegwu who also denied the query.

“There is nothing wrong. it is the propaganda of those who are jittery concerning the reforms we are bringing to the NPC,” he said when contacted on the query and the alleged suspension.

“What they are saying is not true; it is blackmail. It is propaganda and that is their wish. You should know that if wishes were horses, beggars would be riding every day,” he stated.

Odimegwu had in a recent interview with journalists in Abuja said the country had not had any credible census since 1816.

He had  blamed the irregularity on the distortion and falsification of figures for selfish and political reasons.

Odimegwu said, “No census has been credible in Nigeria since 1816. Even the one conducted in 2006 is not credible. I have the records and evidence produced by scholars and professors of repute. This is not my report. If the current laws are not amended, the planned 2016 census will not succeed.”

But the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankanso, at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan  faulted the appointment of the NPC boss.

In an interview with State House correspondents, Kwankanso “I also raised the issue of the Chairman of the National Population Commission headed by one Festus Odimegwu.

“We are not happy about that appointment, and think that it was a mistake. Odimegwu shouldn’t be there in the first place, why because, you see unfortunately we were together, somebody read his curriculum vitae.

“He had only one thing in alcoholic industry, all his life. And my guess is that he’s taking a lot of his products and that is why we feel that his appointment is a mistake because he cannot be the Chairman of NPC and at the same time attacking what his predecessor had done.”

Odimegwu also earned the rebuke of about 22 NPC Commissioners over what they described as “his unhealthy and image-denting comments which are capable of causing a crisis and forcing the agency to derail from delivering on its mandate”.

The warning was sequel to sponsored allegations of fraud, corruption and marginalization Odimegwu levelled against his predecessor, Chief SamailaMakama, and some serving directors in some national dailies.

While expressing shock at the allegations by Odimegwu, they wondered why he had, among other things, chosen to ignore due process, defend the commission’s 2013 budget proposal and condemn censuses conducted in the past.

The commissioners, who dissociated themselves from what they described as rascality at the expense of governance and service delivery issues crying for attention, accused the Odimegwu administration of disregarding the Act which established the commission, the Public Service Rules (PSR) and the Financial Regulations (FR).

They also expressed fear that if the NPC boss was not called to order by the appropriate authorities, the proposed 2016 census might suffer a major setback as his unfavourable policies were already putting the commission at loggerheads with some of its development partners.

The NPC, in its reaction, faulted Kwankwaso’s comments.

In a statement by the Chairperson of  the NPC  Public Affairs Committee , Oluseyi Aderinokun-Olusanya, the commission said “the governor’s call for the sack of NPC chairman was diversionary, ill-advised and a reckless attempt to politicise the yet-to-be conducted 2016 census.”


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