Lagos, Nigeria – In a bid to enhance the civil registration and vital statistics process, the Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to digitize the system and target the registration of 12.7 million under-five children in 2023. Matthew Sunday, the Director of the Vital Registration Department at the National Population Commission (NPC), made this announcement on Friday during the opening of a two-day workshop on digital birth registration in Lagos.
Under the digitization initiative, the NPC intends to register 8.08 million children in 22 priority states, with an additional 4.6 million registrations in other states across the country. The move is expected to significantly increase the percentage of children holding birth certificates, which currently stands at 33% nationwide, with urban areas at 63% and rural areas at 32%.
Mr. Sunday emphasized the importance of certification for complete registration, stating, “For us to have a complete registration of children, there must be certification, and until one is issued a certificate, that is when we can say one has been registered.”
Last week, the NPC and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly launched the digitization process in Kano, with a target of registering one million children in the state. Rahama Farah, UNICEF’s Kano Chief of Field Office, highlighted the significance of birth registration in safeguarding children’s rights from the moment of birth. “Most societies first acknowledge a child’s existence and identity through birth registration,” she stated.
According to UNICEF, the Federal Government’s efforts to promote birth registration are making progress, with 57% of children under the age of five currently registered, amounting to approximately 19.6 million children. This marks an increase from the 47% registered in 2016/17. Although there is no gender disparity in these numbers, children residing in rural areas or impoverished households are less likely to be registered.
During the workshop, Mr. Sunday underscored the critical role of birth registration data in government planning and pledged to collaborate with stakeholders, particularly the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in launching an aggressive social mobilization campaign. He stated, “A greater percentage of our population don’t know there is what we call birth registration.”
The digitization of the civil registration and vital statistics process is expected to streamline registration procedures and provide efficient access to birth certificates. This initiative will not only promote the protection of children’s rights but also facilitate effective planning and development strategies by the government. With concerted efforts and partnerships, the Federal Government of Nigeria aims to ensure that every child in the country is registered and issued a birth certificate, thereby providing them with a strong foundation for a secure future.
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