Checking Population Explosion

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The National Population Commission (NPC) shocked the world recently when it put Nigeria’s population at over 198 million as against the much assumed 180 million. With this figure, Nigeria now ranks the 7th most populous country in the world while retaining its first position in Africa.
Addressing the 51st edition of the Commission on Population and Development in New York, the NPC Chairman, Eze Duruiheoma, in a paper titled ‘Nigeria on Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration’, stated that “Nigeria remains the most populous in Africa, the 7th globally, with an estimated population of over 198 million.”
The NPC boss explained that Nigeria’s urban population was growing at an average annual rate of about 6.5 per cent without commensurate increase in infrastructure and social amenities. He noted that teenagers, women of child-bearing age and working age population were more engaged in urbanisation.
The Tide notes that this is not the first time alarm would be raised over Nigeria’s high population growth.
We recall that the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, while launching the Roadmap on Harnessing Demographic Dividends in Youth Population in July, 2017, also expressed concern over the high rise in population, saying it may have far-reaching negative consequences on national development.
Similarly in December 2017, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, raised alarm over Nigeria’s population growth rate and warned that its negative impacts on the nation’s economy and welfare of the citizenry would be colossal.
In addition to this was the prediction by World Urbanisation Prospect Report in 2014 that most of the world’s population, including Nigeria’s (70 per cent) would be residing in cities by 2050.
For us, this new population figure, if it is anything to go by, portends serious danger to the nation’s development, especially against the backdrop of the fact that the average annual growth rate is not commensurate with existing social amenities and infrastructure in the country. The new figure is even more worrisome because of high level of poverty and unemployment in the country, which has in one way or the other encouraged criminality and crimes
For instance, the National Bureau of Statistics 2017 Report shows that Nigerian cities host widespread poverty, under-employment and unemployment at an average of 18.4 per cent.
It is a sad irony that whereas in the developed countries where governments have fixed their infrastructure, they still manage their population growth, while Nigeria, in spite of years of infrastructural decay and stagnancy, is unable to control its population growth. This has not only imperiled development, but has also led to social menace such as alms begging, prostitution and other social vices.
We recall that the last attempt by government at checking population explosion in the country was made during the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida era when the military government pegged the number of children per family at four. We, therefore, call for a review of that policy in line with the present economic realities in the country.
We share Prof. Adewole’s proposition that Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) be used to sensitise rural folks on family planning. But beyond this is the need for a holistic approach backed by a well funded education programme and infrastructural development as studies have shown that the more people are educated, the fewer children they have.
It is against this backdrop that we urge government to put measures in place to check population explosion as well as intensify investments in infrastructure and employment creation so as to mop up a good percentage of idle but employable Nigerians. We fear that if no concrete steps are taken to stem the tide of population explosion, Nigeria risks regressing into the Hobbesian state of nature where only the mighty survive and life is brutish, solitary, nasty, poor and short.