As part of measures put in place to upscale birth registration in the country, the National Population Commission, NPC, said it has commenced the digitization of all the registration centers in the 774 LGA headquarters.
The Chairman of the Commission, Hon. Nasir kwarra stated disclosed this at a press briefing to mark the 2021 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day in Abuja.
He said the Commission was worried about the low rate of birth registration in the country due to the on-going COVVID 19 pandemic that has weakened the structures of the civil registration system in many African countries.
He explained that the ongoing automation process, which is already being piloted in the FCT, Abuja is in line with the Vision of African Union leaders and SDG goals.
Kwarra said the Commission currently has 4011 registration centres spread across the 774 LGAs of the country but is working with the development partners to increase it to 8,000 required to achieve optimal result.
Besides this, he said the Commission is also collaborating with most health centres and local governments, whose personnel assist their registrars in collecting information on death and births in their facilities.
According to him, currently, about 43% of under- 5 children are registered at birth and not more than 10% of deaths are registered in Nigeria. What this translates into is that many are born and die without leaving a trace of their existence in any legal records in the country.
This he said is attributable to a whole range of causative factors including: but not limited to geographiphic, cultural and traditional reasons.
He expressed optimism that the automation process, when fully automated nationwide will significantly enhance the operational efficiency of the vital registration system in Nigeria
The NPC boss said the celebration of CRVS Day was in pursuant to the recommendation of conference of Africa Ministers Responsible for Civil Registration held in Nouakchott, Mauritania in 2017 and endorsed by the Executive Council of the African Union the following year.
‘‘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 support that leverages the development in information technology, inter-operable and easily accessible to the generality of the people.
Having carefully navigated through its initial teething challenges, he said the Commission now at thick of an effective transformation from manual to wholly digitations 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 92018-2022).
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 objective of the celebration was to inspire member states o 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 is 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 aimed at demonstrating the essential role civil registration and vital statistics system plays in facilitating the recognition of the legal identity for all person as well as providing key data for planning, policy formulation, decision making and good governance.