An awareness alarm has been raised by some residents of Bauchi as they alleged accuse officials of charging some fees before obtaining birth certificates in the on-going registration of birth conducted by the National Population Commission (NPC) in the state.
Residents of Baran Gada, Kofar Gwalemeji, Yelwa Kagadama, Angwa Kanawa among others, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they had to pay at least N100 before they were issued the certificates.
They said that those who could not afford to pay were denied the certificates, contrary to an earlier announcement by the state government that the document was free of charge.
One of the residents, Mrs Hafsatu Musa of Angwa Kanawa said that she had to borrow N1,000 to register her children and those of her relations.
Malam Sule Dan-Azare, a Woodcarver in Yelwa Kagadam said that he paid N300 to register his child.
“On Saturday, our local chief told us to come to his palace and register our children, in spite that we had done it earlier.
“When I presented the certificates I earlier collected, NPC officials told me that the documents were not NPC certificates and I was left with no option than register again,” Dan-Azare said.
He said that the payment of fees in the area had hindered considerable number of parents from registering the births of their children.
The NPC Supervisor in charge of Yelwa Center, Malam Ma’aji Husseini, confirmed the incident but stated that the officials involved were not ad hoc staff engaged by NPC.
Husseini said that he discovered that the officials were either from the State Ministry of Health or Bauchi Local Government Council.
Malam Yusuf Saka and Sani Yunusa, NPC Monitor and Sani Yunusa, Comptroller in charge of NPC in Bauchi Local Government Area, also said that the perpetrators were not staff of the commission.
The two officials, who jointly spoke to NAN on Sunday, said they had received reports of cases of collection of fees.
They said that they had reported the matter to NPC headquarters in Bauchi, as well as the Bauchi Local Government Council and the State ministry of Health.
“We have equally mounted surveillance team to ensure that such perpetrators were caught because we officially commenced the exercise on July 7, but the unwholesome acts were committed before that date.
The State Director of NPC, Malam Musa Haruna, also confirmed the incident, stating that the officials were not staff of the commission.
Haruna said that he had directed his men to report the matter to the Chairman of Bauchi Local Government Council.
Acting Chairman of Bauchi Local Government Council and the Director, Primary Health Care of the Council, Alhaji Kabiru Marafa and Bako Gamawa , confirmed that fees were charged.
Gamawa explained that NPC lacked adequate staff that could cover 108 Health Facilities in the state, as such had to engage staff of the Council to complement the activities of the commission.
He said that currently, the council had 100 staff involved in the house-to-house birth registration and NPC was informed and aware of the levy.
“I only directed the officials to collect between N20 and N30 per certificate but not N100; proceeds realize will be used to settle the allowances of the affected staff.
“This is due to inaccessibility of some remote communities that cannot be reached by NPC staff and inadequate materials from NPC,” Gamawa stressed.
NAN recalled that Gov Mohammed Abubakar of the state had on Thursday, flagged-off commencement of 10-day Mass Birth Registration of children under five years of age in the state, aimed at collating data for development purposes.
The exercise followed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the European Union, UNICEF and the Bauchi State Government.
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Source: ( NAN )