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Odimegwu resigns NPC chairman

By The Rainbow

Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Festus Odimegwu, has resigned his appointment from the commission.

President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted his resignation with effect from Thursday.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, in a statement by his special assistant (media), Mr Sam Nwaobasi, on Thursday, said President Jonathan also approved the appointment of Dr Sam Ahaiwe, the commissioner representing Abia State in the commission, as acting chairman, pending the appointment of a substantive chairman.

There had been intense pressure from commissioners and members of the public calling for Odimegwu's resignation as NPC chairman, following comments credited to him about poor conduct of previous census and allegation of fraud and marginalisation against his predecessor, Chief Samaila Makama.

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.

'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,' he was quoted to have said.

Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankanso, at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan a few weeks ago, was said to have faulted the appointment of the NPC boss.

He demanded the sack of Odimegwu for allegedly criticising the works of his predecessor, claiming that Odimegwu was incapable of conducting the 2016 national census.

The Federal Government then had issued Odimegwu a query to explain the reasons behind his utterances.

Shortly after he was queried, some of the commissioners in the NPC had written a petition against Odimegwu's administration of the agency, which they said would not put it in good stead to conduct the 2016 census.

But there are many who believe that the Odimegwu's observations were correct, but rendered in politically incorrect manner. Ironically, a day after the query by the federal government, the Census Tribunal ruled that there was no proper census conducted in 20 local government areas in Lagos, in 2006.

The Lagos State Government has since vowed to file a suit against the NPC compelling it to conduct a proper census in the state.

In his comment on his resignation, Odimegwu who spoke from New York, said he was he was relieved that the federal government has finally accepted his resignation. 'With the whole nonsense that was going on, I decided to throw in the towel. I had offered to resign previously, but it was turned down, so I am happy that Mr. President has finally accepted my resignation,' he was quoted to have said.

In obvious defence of short but controversial legacy, Odimegwu said, 'If they think they can conduct a credible census, let them go ahead to do so. If they want to play politics with the census, they should take the job.

'But given my pedigree in the private sector, I was not cut out for such and I had to leave with my dignity intact.'

In a related development, Jonathan has approved the appointment of Prof. Anya. O. Anya, as a member of the Advisory Committee on National Dialogue to replace Prof. Ben Nwabueze, who is still abroad for health reasons.

The president also approved the appointment of Pius Olakunle Osunyikanmi as the Director General/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Technical Aids Corps.