Nigeria as the most populous black nation and the giant of Africa is predicted to become the fourth (4th) most populous country in the world by 2050, with the population of about 400 million people. This projection is frightening as it may seem, but can be more devastating if no measure is taken and no plan is made to deal with the situation now. The issue is not that simple as it may appear, considering the youthful and productive demography in the country. A well thought-out and painstaking plan needs to be put in place to guarantee the survival and well-being of the nation in the future.
Professionals, experts and intellectual heavyweights should be assembled and engaged with the task of charting a sustainable way to manage the population growth without attendant negative implications. Though it is convenient to assert that population growth causes poverty and lawlessness, the most populous nations of the world, China and India, have persistently shown indications of economic prosperity, political stability and social tranquility over the years. In spite of the size of their population, they were able to achieve food security and steady industrialisation. The earlier Nigeria learns some lessons from them the better.
Nigeria is naturally endowed with a rainbow of resources ranging from huge mineral deposits, vast arable land mass, rich forest and bodies of water that crisscrossed the entire nation. If these resources are utilised by the rollicking youthful population, Nigeria can dwarf the Asian tigers to become the African elephant. Leveraging the regional, continental and international trade agreements, the market base for made-in-Nigeria goods knows no bounds. This also is a great enabler of industrialisation, opportunity for massive employment generation, foreign direct investment attraction, and putting the population into maximum productive use.
This status cannot be achieved overnight; rather it requires a gradual and conscientious process that requires discipline, superior intelligence, ingenuity and a well contrived plan of action. It requires strong political will, determination and commitment from the government as well as the right attitude from the citizens. Therefore, tackling the security imbroglio and the restoration of Nigerians’ confidence, loyalty and patriotism will be of paramount importance in this regard. This will give the masses a sense of belonging and motivate them to fully participate in the implementation of any programme the government rolls out.
Investment and improvement in human development indices such as education, healthcare, agriculture and security form the basis for preparing the population for the future. The focus of the education system should be the contemporary needs of cybersecurity, nanotechnology, information and communication technology, biotechnology, robotics, nanorobotics as well as data analytics and artificial intelligence. The curriculum should emphasise the acquisition of millennium survival skills such as critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, social skills, writing skills, negotiating skills and entrepreneurial skills. And the education system should be properly funded not only from the government but other sources.
The environment that is being degraded by the forces of climate change should be vigorously protected, and the agricultural activities massively improved and mechanised. There should be aggressive research works to introduce improved, high yielding, pest and drought resistant seeds. This will enable the farmers to sail against the tides of unfavourable environmental forces, for the attainment of food security and sufficiency in the country. All the nations that attained economic growth have agriculture as their stepping stone. It provides raw materials for industries, income for the farmers, foreign exchange for the government and generates employment opportunities for the youth.
However, social amenities such as good roads, electricity, potable water and healthcare facilities also need to be provided in the rural areas to curb the rural-urban migration. This will open the rural areas for development and reduce the intensity of the menace of urbanisation; it can decongest the urban areas as people may start moving from urban to rural areas.
Usman Aliyu Elnafaty, DP21, Fadamar Jaji, Behind Federal Secretariat, Bauchi