Funmi Olaitan, Ibadan
As the world on Wednesday marked World Population Day, State Team Leader of a non-governmental organisation, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Initiative (NURHI), Mrs. Stella Akinso, has warned against forcing women to embrace family planning, saying every woman has a right to determine when and the number of children she wants to have.
She gave the warning during the programme to mark the day, put together by the organization, in conjunction with National Population Commission NPC), Association for Reproductive and Family Heath (ARFH), Society for Family Health (SFH) and National Orientation Agency (NOA), held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
Present at the ceremony include the state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Welfare, Community Development and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Atinuke Osunkoya, NPC Federal Commissioner in the state, Mr. Tayo Oyetunji, and NOA State Director, Mrs. Dolapo Dosumu.
Akinso insisted that contrary to insinuations in many quarters, no woman should be forced or coarced to take up any family planning method, adding that each woman has a right to choose for herself the time she is ready to access any family planning method.
She said, "Every woman has right to family planning unhindered and in accessing family planning, no woman should be coarsed in taking a method or force to do family planning.
"What we are saying is that every woman should decide when and whether they want pregnancy and the time and spacing of their births and that is what we are saying.
"We are bringing that consciousness to the people that they have the right to access family planning and that states and policy makers should ensure that contraceptives, commodities are free and that service providers are trained to be able to provide the services. The service should be free. So, that is the message for this year."
NPC boss, Oyetunji while speaking with journalists, said the commission is ready to conduct another census, stating however that its readiness to do this depends on when the Federal Government is ready.
Oyetunji while speaking on theme of the event, "Family Planning as a human right", said the commission over the years has trained and re-trained its personnel as parts of efforts to have a well acceptable results.
According to him, government can mandate the commission to conduct another population census anytime, but that would be done when all necessary materials have been provided to the commission by government.
He said, "Well, National Population Commission (NPC) is ever ready to conduct another population census. We have over the years developed capacity to do so. We have all that is takes to do so, however, we have so many other issues.
"Only the government can can decide what time to conduct another population census, ours is to be ready, but the time, what time, that question of when and what time can be appropriately answered by the government".