As part of measures to upscale birth registrations in the country, National Population Commission, NPC, said it has commenced digitization of all birth registration centres in the 774 LGA headquarters.
Chairman of the Commission, Honourable Nasir Kwarra disclosed this in a press briefing during the marking of the 2021 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day in Abuja.
He said the Commission was bothered by the low rate of birth registration in the country due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic which had weakened the structures of the civil registration system in many countries.
He further explained that the presently occurring automation process which is already on the way in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja, is in line with the vision if the African Union Leaders and SDG goals.
Kwarra said the commission presently has 4011 registration centres spread across the 774 LGAs of the country but is already working towards increasing it to 8,000 with the help of development Partners in order to achieve the required optimal result.
Alongside, the Chairman said the commission is also collaborating with most health centres and Local Government, whose personnels assist their registrars in collecting data on the number of deaths and births in their centres.
According to him, presently, about 43% of children under 5 years of age are registered at birth and not more than 10% of deaths are registered in Nigeria. What this means is that many are born into Nigeria and died as Nigerians but without any legal document or records showing evidence of their existence in the country.
Then he went on to say, attributes to a large range of causative factors including cultural and traditional reasons without limiting geographic.
He expressed optimism that the automation Process, when fully automated nationwide will significantly improve the efficiency of the vital registration system in Nigeria.
The NPC chairman said the celebration if the CRVS Day was in accordance to the recommendation of the Conference of African Ministers In-charge of the Civil Registration held in Nouakchott, Mauritania in 2017 and endorsed by the Executive Council of the African Union in the next year, 2018.
‘‘The purpose of the celebration was to increase public awareness on the importance of timely registration of vital events, particularly births and deaths, through well-functioning civil registration and vital systems.
‘‘The CRVS Day provides us with an opportunity for a reflection on the legal identity from birth to death of all persons and the realization of key human and civil rights, including the right to participate in society and economy and the right to access social services.
‘‘This can only be attained when the rights and civil liberties are found and strengthened by an efficient and effective civil registration and vital statistics systems that are inclusive, permanent, continuous, compulsory and confidential in nature.’’
In doing so, conscious efforts should be made to ensure that the Civil Registration and Vital Registration System enjoys a broad-based hemisphere that leverages the development in information technology, inter-operable and easily accessible to the General Public.
Having carefully navigated through its initial challenges, he said the Commission now at the thick of an effective transformation from manual to totally digitization and automation of the CVRS system in Nigeria in an effort to revitalize and upgrade the system in line with the vision of the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics.
With the support of World Bank and UNICEF, Kwarra said the Commission has developed a Five-Year Strategic Action Plan (2018-2022).
According to him, the objective of the plan is to enhance the framework for actions and guidance for National, States, LGAs and Community initiatives aimed at ensuring that all vital events are registered.
He called for strong institutional framework, robust governance mechanism and effective coordination among a wide range of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to accelerate progress towards universal civil registration and integrated identity management system.
He equally called on development partners not to relent in their collaborative efforts with the Commission in the provision of technical and material support towards achieving the desired goal in civil registration and vital statistics system in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF, Ibrahim Sesay said the existence of accurate, regular and reliable statistics is imperative for evidence-based decision making in any country as well as in emergency response. According to him, more than 50% of births of children under the age of five in Nigeria are still unregistered, which contributes 11% of unregistered births in West Africa.
He said the UNICEF has triggered a scalable process of assisting the NPC to strengthen and accelerate the birth registration service delivery at state and community levels with a focus of registering about 25 million children between 2021 and 2025.
‘‘UNICEF is supporting the development of a Roadmap for digital birth registration to guide CRVS partners who are seeking opportunities to achieve greater impact, efficiency and efficacy in a digital universal birth registration system in Nigeria.
‘‘There is a clear agenda to optimize NPC work patterns and community level actions for cost-effective birth registration programming employed with the establishment of a network of registrars capacitated to register children using electronic devices at the state, local government, wards and community levels.
‘‘The birth registration is a child’s right to a name and an identity that should not be denied any child. With the setting aside of August 10 as the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics day, we are encouraged that civil and birth registration is getting the attention it deserves as a constituent part of the child’s right to development and protection,’’ Sessay said.
He assured that UNICEF would develop a comprehensive communications and awareness-raising strategy at the national and local levels to create and sustain a demand for birth registration services among parents at the LGA and communities.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Committee Chairman, Civil Registration and Vital Statistics at NPC, Dr. Ismaila Suleiman said the goal of the celebration was to inspire members of the state accelerate the implementation of the civil registration and vital statistics in the continent in line with the global best practices.
Civil registration includes: registration of births, deaths, marriages, migration which help in providing statistical data needed f in planning the attainment of development goals with the potential to improve the well-being of the people.
Highlight of the event was a practical demonstration of digital registration of a new born baby with the mother.
This year’s celebration was themed: ‘‘Leadership for an essential service: Building resilient civil registration and vital statistics systems in Africa that provides innovative, integrated, and decentralized services for the post-COVID-19 period’’. It is focused on demonstrating the essential role civil registration and vital statistics system plays in facilitating the recognition of legal identities for all persons as well as providing data for planning, policy formulation, decision making and good governance.