•BY AKPAN EDEM in Calabar •
The Cross River State Director of the National Population Commission, Bassey Eteng has decried the poor rate of birth registration in the state stressing that compared to other states, Cross River has continued to trail behind in the endeavour.
The state Director made this known in Calabar during the official flag off of the campaign for birth registration in the state.
He stressed that right from the commencement of the exercise in the country in 1992, the state has not risen above 35 per cent attributing this to ignorance, low public knowledge among the people particularly those who reside in the rural areas.
According to the state director, “Some states have continued to trail behind in the Birth Registration endeavour. Cross River State is, unfortunately, one such states, with coverage not rising above 35% since the programme began in 1992, this is very poor compared to other states.
“Our investigations have revealed that this abysmal performance of the state is due to the very low public knowledge base of birth registration. Many Cross Riverians, especially in rural areas, are ignorant of birth registration. Those who are aware attach very little value to the birth certificate”, he said.
He underscored the need for the campaign stressing that it is needed in order to change the narrative in the state and solicited the support of the state government particularly in the area of logistics to reverse this negative trend in the state.
“Part of the challenge we have had is the logistics and low manpower to permeate the many hard to reach areas of the state. We are looking to the government for support in this area to enable us to achieve our goal of elevating Cross River from its current 5thout of six states in the South-South to an enviable 1st position”, he said.
Enumerating the benefits of birth registration, he said a complete and accurate Vital Registration System in the state will be a boost to the population figure of the state in general. This is fundamental to accurate sectoral planning, allocations, data for planning in education, health, social security and for the provision of consumer goods and services.
In his keynote address, the Deputy Governor of the State, Professor Ivara Esu underscored the imperative of the exercise in the state stressing that the state government is committed to ensuring the success of the campaign as well as reversing the state’s poor birth registration rate.
He said to demonstrate the commitment of the government to ensuring the success of the exercise; the government through the State Ministries of Health and Education signed Memoranda of Association (MOUs) in 2017 to concretize the collaboration with the NPC.
He enjoined all stakeholders to join hands with the National Population Commission to make the three months media campaign a huge success for the benefit of children in the state and also ensure that birth registration is firmly rooted in the psyche of the people.