The Federal Government has raised concern over the country’s fast rising population.
Daily Trust reports that Nigeria’s population has more than trippled since independence, from 45.1 million in 1960 to almost 200m in 2018.
Both Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed used the just concluded Nigerian Economic Summit to drum support for the need to manage the country’s population.
Osinbajo disclosed that the federal government is working to reduce the country’s population growth rate by half. He said Nigeria’s population is experiencing about three percent growth yearly,” he said.
“The problem of poverty and the attendant deficits in human development indices becomes more significant because our population continues to grow at about three per cent annually and we are to become the world’s third most populous nation by 2050. Of this population, over 60% will be young people,” the Vice President said.
Osinbajo had at a consultative forum with religious leaders last month warned of demographic time-bomb.
He however said that to avoid “the time-bomb scenario, we must act with urgency to build an economy that can support that population, provide jobs and economic opportunity, education, healthcare, hope and optimism.”
Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed had also used the same platform to inform the audience that the federal government has been engaging critical stakeholders like traditional and religious leaders to advise their members on child spacing.
Speaking after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the minister said the government is not limiting the number of children to four per mother, but said families should embrace child spacing.
She made reference to the government’s Economic Recovery & Growth Plan where it touched on population growth management.
In the document, the government said “the management of population growth is vital to the development of any nation. The UN projections estimate that at the current rate of population growth, Nigeria will be among the top four most populous countries in the world with an estimated population of well over 289 million by year 2050.
“It is critical to have an effective population management strategy that is aligned with the ERGP, in order to address the issue of high population growth. Without this, even in a situation of positive economic growth, the achieved GDP may be unable to keep pace with the needs of a population that is expanding exponentially.
“This makes it imperative to fast track the review of the population policy for the country. The Ministry of Budget and National Planning will work closely with the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant stakeholders to review Nigeria’s population policy.”
Earlier in July, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had said that Nigeria would need N234bn to control its population growth which stands at 3.2 per cent per year.
He spoke during the Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin Annual Memorial Lecture in Abuja titled, ‘Implication of the Population of 190 million on economic development and health/wellbeing of future generations of Nigerians.”
He harped on the need to boost Contraceptives Prevalence Rate (CRR) noting that the birth rate of “5.5 children per woman is too high.”
‘High population isn’t a problem, but’
An economist, Mr Tope Fasua, said a large or high population isn’t a problem in itself but how the government and the people are handling it normally constitutes the problem.
He said “if a country has a very huge and productive population – productive in terms of the contribution to the GDP) – high population will be to its advantage.
But if the huge population is not productive and the government doesn’t have the resources to cater for the ever increasing population that is where the problem lies.”
Fasua, who is also the presidential candidate of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), cited China as one country with a very huge but very productive population. China, he said, is using its huge population to its advantage because its people are productive and contributing meaningfully to its GDP.
He said Nigeria shouldn’t have been worrying about its increasing population if the government, over the years, had provided enough infrastructure that would have made many Nigerians, especially the youths productive.
He said many successive governments had also neglected education, resulting in the country having about 13.2million children out of school.
Fasua said “the government should build infrastructure and concentrate more on education.’’
A country like Nigeria, he said, “Where people hold tenaciously to culture and religion, it will be very difficult for government to want to sell the idea of two children per mother or whatever. I think what they should do is just to make the population productive. A productive population produces the resources for the country.”
Comparison with Ghana, Indonesia
Daily Trust reports that Ghana had a population of 6,652,287 in 1960. It presently has 29.6 million and is projected to hit 51,269,943 by 2050.
A Chief Statistician with the Ghana Statistical Service, David Kombat, said the country’s population growth rate is at an estimated 2.5 annually, adding that an estimated 38.8 per cent of the population is made up of the youth.
For Indonesia, which is the world’s most populous Muslim country and fourth-most-populous country in the world, it has a population growth rate of 1.49 percent.
The country would overtake the United States as the world’s third-most-populous country by 2043, based on predictions by the U.S. Census Bureau and Bloomberg calculations.
In Indonesia, the government’s population policy includes reducing the rate of population growth, achieving a redistribution of the population, adjusting economic factors, and creating prosperous families.
The government wants to cut the rate to the replacement level of 2.1 within two years to prevent the 250 million population from doubling by 2060.
To achieve that, the government increased the budget for family planning programs almost fourfold since 2006, to $214 million in 2013, funding everything from training rural midwives via text messages, to persuading Muslim clerics to encourage vasectomies.