The chairman of Foundation for Development and Environmental Initiative, Akin Mabogunje, has called for immediate steps towards addressing the country’s fast growing population before it poses serious danger.
Nigeria is projected to become the world’s third most populous nation by 2050. The country is currently ranked 8th on the global demographic ladder.
Mr. Mabogunje, a professor of geography, called for increase in the uptake of family planning as one of the ways to manage the country’s population.
He said unless the current demographic issues, especially uncontrolled birth, are addressed, the rise in population may spell doom for Nigeria.
Mr. Mabogunje, who was addressing a gathering of health and population experts at the 4th National Family Planning Conference in Abuja on Wednesday, said the huge demography of the nation could however become a blessing, if its potentials are adequately harnessed for development.
“If we continue on our present mindless trajectory of population growth, the way forward is clear. It is the way to deepening poverty for the masses of this country”, he said.
“A country that is obsessed with just the number of its population can discover that it is simply breeding and breeding into accelerating poverty.
“This is why countries that are serious about dramatically raising the level of their development had to intervene policy-wise and practically in determining the acceptable level of the fertility of their women folk, limiting it, as in the case of China until recently, to not more than one child per woman through her child-bearing age.”
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the National Population Commission, Eze Duruiheoma, wondered whether Nigeria has the capacity to manage issues related to its large population.
“With an annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent, the basic question is whether we have the capacity to manage the population effectively and cope with the negative consequences of rapid population growth.
“We are in 2016, and 2050 is some 34 years and Nigeria is expected to be the 3rd largest population in the world, moving from its present 8th position. This movement upward in the global demographic ladder is a very huge challenge, and all hands must be on deck to ensure that we adopt the right attitudes and take bold decisions that will ensure that the quality of lives of Nigerians is not compromised because of this high population growth rate.
“Though 2050 is still far, the right time to act is now. Today’s actions will have great implications for the future and the welfare of the future generations.
“We must ensure that the fertility rate is reduced through expansion of access to reproductive health services and information. We must also work consciously towards improving the maternal and child health situation and ensure that the right of the girl child to live a meaning life is enhanced”, Mr. Duruiheoma said.
The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, assured the gathering that government was committed to exploring the potentials of the nation’s demographic stature for national growth.
She attributed rampant crimes and other ills in the country to unemployment, illiteracy and other problems facing the nation.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, disclosed that the Federal Government was targeting 500 percent use of family planning commodities in the country in the next few years.
Mr. Adewole, a professor, said government plans to increase annual contribution to family planning commodities next year to $4 million from the current $3 million.
He urged stakeholders to prioritize adoption of family planning by couples, as according to him, the programme is capable of substantially reducing high rate of maternal deaths in the country.
He also pledged government’s commitment to increasing investments in public health programmes in the country to reduce both poverty and deaths.
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