The National Population Commission has lamented that currently, it is estimated that over one million births are unregistered in Ondo State, appealing to stakeholders to take advantage of its free registration of birth to ensure that all births are registered in Ondo State.
This charge was conveyed to stakeholders at a meeting held today in Akure, Ondo State capital. The meeting was held to sensitize stakeholders on the importance and status of birth registration in the State.
The meeting involved traditional institutions, ministries of health, information and economic planning. Other stakeholders included Ondo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Board, National Orientation Agency(NOA), local government chairmen, Betty Akeredolu Foundation(BAF) and the press.
During the engagement, partners on ground were invited in turns to deliver goodwill messages. They all pledged to cooperate with the efforts of the National Population Commission in Ondo State to improve birth registration.
In his goodwill message, Dr. Samuel Abiona, the Director of Community Health and Education, Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Board (OSPHCDB), who represented Dr. Francis Akanbiemu, the Executive Secretary, said that many Nigerians were not existing because there was no record of their births, a situation he said was intolerable in modern setting.
He said OSPHCDB is partner in progress with the National Population Commission and shall continue to support and cooperate with them to increase birth registration in the State.
The Head of Department (HOD) Vital, NPopC, Mr. Olowolagba, gave a brief overview of the activities of the National Population Commission in the State. He defined some concepts relating to the mandate of the Commission, and discussed the benefits and challenges of birth registration in the State.
The HOD said that there was inadequate number of registrars in the State and appealed to Ondo State government and local government councils to help them with manpower to be able to cover the State.
He said that over one million births in Ondo State were unregistered was alarming and should get everyone worried. He then appealed that all hands must be in deck to help the situation. Mr. Olowolagba was passionate in his plea, reminding everyone that the success or otherwise of the programme was a collective responsibility.
He expressed gratitude to development partners, especially UNICEF, that has committed huge financial resources to help the Commission in Ondo State.
The Chairman of the Council of Obas in Ondo State and the Olukare of Ikare, His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Akadiri Momoh, pledged on behalf of the Obas in Ondo State, to sensitize the people and encourage them to get their children’s births registered.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr. Igbasan, advised the National Population Commission to leverage on technology to improve birth registration in the State. It is the trend in the world and they should not be left behind, the commissioner advised.
The Commissioner said Ondo State was concerned about the status of birth registration in the State and that the State would cooperate and support the Commission to achieve their desire to improve birth registration. He said the need for accurate population figure for planning cannot be over-emphsized.
The representative of BAF, Miss Nkem Njeze said their Foundation was committed to increased birth registration in Ondo State. She said her Excellency, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, was committed to the registration of the newborn.
This, Miss. Nkem said, informed her decision to start the “Olori Connection”, which has improved birth registration in Ifedore local government area of Ondo State where it is currently being piloted. She said the idea behind “Olori Connection” was to use members of the community to provide information on births within the community with a view to registering such births. “Olori” is the title of the wife of a king in Yoruba land.
Furthermore, Miss Nkem said that there was no budget line for the programme (Olori Connection), noting that Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu had been using her personal funds to run the program. Despite the challenges of funding, the programme itself has been a huge success, she said.
One critical challenge of birth registration that came to the fore and agreed on by stakeholders was inadequate funding. Consequently, stakeholders appealed to relevant arms of government to help redress the situation.