census
census

From: Bamidele Fashube, (ABUJA), Nigeria (GVE) – Fresh indications have shown that even with the much anticipated presidential proclamation on the conduct of the due national population census, the Population Commission, (NPC) commission may not be ready for the exercise.

This is because in the last four years, the commission has reportedly not built the capacity of staff especially in terms of specialised trainings needed for the successful conduct of the exercise.

The training according to sources at the commission’s headquarters are required to build capacities of some staff especially in departments that are critical to the census exercise, such as Information Technology Department (ITD), census, cartography department, among others.

The commission’s staff had earlier in the year embarked on an indefinite industrial action, where they accused the Director General (DG) Ghaji Bello of gross incompetence and corruption both administratively and technically,” and also protested poor welfare packages.

They alleged that the said incompetence was responsible for the “abysmal performance recorded in the core areas of the commission’s mandate despite the huge amount of funds released to it.”

A highly placed source at the commission, who volunteered to speak with (GVE) in Abuja on conditions of anonymity explained that the last specialised training conducted by the commission was in 1991 when the NpopC kicked off.

According to the source, the same expertise was used for the 2006 national population census exercise adding that no staff has been trained afterwards despite several other recruitments into the commission.

“For 1991 census, that was when NpopC took off and people were recruited massively across the nation. We have offices in all the LGAs people were recruited and trained massively both locally and internationally.

“Most of them who were trained took part in the census and carry over of that training was what was used in 2006 census. But after that census, people were recruited but not trained. Not even inducted to say this is how the civil service runs not to talk of specialised trainings. I have given you two examples of specialized departments, ITD and Census,” the source explained.

The source further disclosed that the first set of trained staff in 1991 have all retired while the few ones would also be leaving service in 2018.
“Currently, no census programmer in ITD all of them have retired and to become an expert in census programming is not to go for a two years training. It takes you to be trained, retrained and practice.

“In census department, we have two experts, one is retiring this year and the other is going in 2020 and no training for the upcoming ones to take over from them. The third department that is crucial is cartography department. In the department(cartography) an in-house training was held to tailor them to do the EAD we are doing, not that they know it.

“It is not like they sent them to school or specialized training and some of these things are not learnt in the school, you need to be trained.It is not really just sending workers for trainings but there are some areas we need special trainings and what the commission has been doing before is send one or two people to a particular institution to study the required skills,” the source said.
Also, a former Director of human resources at the commission, Mr. Balla Gaduwama expressed sadness over the situation of staff, stating that the commission lacks the technical know-how to conduct the next census.

He blamed this on the non-prioritization of capacity building for staff despite being a data collating commission, whose data is used to form government development plans.

Gaduwama argued that in the annual appropriation budget of the commission, provisions are always made for trainings but this has not be put into action in over four years.

He said:“NPC as it is cannot conduct census, it lacks the technical know how, not even the local government election because we sufficiently educated people because most of them are graduates ultimately, the minimum qualification into service is first degree, Masters, PhD is an added advantage but nobody is bringing a precondition for you to start work as a civil servant.

“The agitation of the union is that in the last four years, there has not been staff trainings but how come there are foreign trips and all these foreign trips does not involve technical personnel.

“In the last four years, the amount that has been budgeted for training is sufficient enough to make impact and come to think of it, most of these trainings are not high cost trainings. Take for instance, carto training, how much does it take to send someone to RECTAS in Ife, it is just N500,000. As a director, no one has even approached me to go on a foreign trip to even Niger republic.”

According to the 2016 and 2017 budget proposals,obtained from the Budget Office of the Federation, a sum of N34.5 million (N34,598,136) and N31million (N31,138,322) were budgeted for local trainings.

In the 2016 budget a sum of N49 million (N49,090,378) was earmarked for transportation for both local and international travels on training.

Also, a total of N41.7 million (41,713,074) was budgeted for training of staff for data collection and interviewing techniques at IPC, Washington.

In view of this, a source in the know, at the training department of the commission alleged that most times only the Chairman, Eze Duruiheoma, DG, Commissioners and perhaps their personal staff attend foreign trainings.

“…..It is only the DG, Chairman, commissioners and their personal staff that goes.. A three day event to New York, it takes a month to take visa and travel arrangement only for you to go and make one appearance. Technically that is enough to strengthen the capacity of all graduates in the cartography in GIS and if you move forward to find out how much is the cost. So these are the issues, they go, they make claims and of course they say it is the international development partners that undertake some of these programmes.

“It is true but even when such privileges are extended to the staff why are the appropriate staff not asked to go? Why would a commissioner for instance go and attend technical workshop on cartography in India? If there is a workshop to build the capacity of a staff in cartography for instance, you should look for a competent cartographer or a person with requires competence to go.

“Why should it be the commissioner or Chairman or DG that should go? And where staff are to go, you pick your own personal staff because they will enjoy estacode. That is why most of them, when they go abroad they come back and change their cars,” the source alleged.

Meanwhile, in the commission’s 2018 N1.06 billion capital expenditure proposal document, exclusively obtained by (GVE), a total of N15.6million(15,650,000) was proposed for Zimbabwe and Mauritania trips.

While reacting to this, the Deputy Director of Training and Manpower development, Mrs.Nneka Onyero, when contacted, explained that the said specialised trainings are not budgeted for in the overall budget but noted that this should be embedded in the budget of relevant department.

She stressed that the trainings captured in the commission’s annual budgetary allocation is the general capacity building for staff.

Onyero, however, submitted that the trainings have suffered setbacks in the last few years due to paucity of funds.

Her words:“ This specialized trainings are not budgeted for. For instance, in a department, if somebody is supposed to go for any specialized training, under your budget you should have training component which will talk about these trainings.
“The ones we budget for is the general capacity building. It is the responsibility of the department, they will say we need this and the office will accomodate it in their budget.

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