The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) will join other experts and policymakers for a one-day high-level meeting to discuss Nigeria’s newly revised national population policy.
The policy, which seeks to address the burgeoning population growth in Nigeria, was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2022. It was based on the findings of the NIPSS Senior Executive Course (SEC) 42 2020.
Mr Buhari had recommended that the National Institute focuses on finding solutions to population growth and human capital development in Nigeria.
The policy has an overall goal of improving the life and standard of living for all Nigerians through population control. It also stresses the need for urgent measures to address Nigeria’s high fertility rate, through expanding access to modern contraceptive methods across the country.
Founded in 1979, NIPSS is Nigeria’s foremost policy formation centre for bureaucrats, private sector leaders, military and para-military officers and senior civil servants.
Many policymakers in Nigeria have attended the NIPSS. Notable among them are ex-military dictator Ibrahim Babangida and Nuhu Ribadu, a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Each year, NIPSS develops a policy plan for the country. It reports directly to the Nigerian President and is supervised by the Vice President.
Today’s high-level dialogue is organised by NIPSS with support from the development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), under the Partnership for Advocacy in child and family health at Scale, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project.
The dialogue is themed “Implementing the National Population Policy; the responsibility of the MDAs and private sector at national and sub-national levels.”
It will serve as an opportunity for policymakers, implementers and thought leaders to synergise and amplify issues around the new policy with a view to catalysing collective ownership for effective implementation.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Chairman of the National Population Commission, Isa Kwarra and the President of the Population Association of Nigeria, Rhoda Mundi, are among those expected at the event.
Stay on this page as PREMIUM TIMES provides live updates of the event scheduled to commence by 9:00 a.m.
9:15 a.m.- It’s a cold Monday morning here at Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton hotel, Abuja. We are live at the one-day high-level National dialogue on the new National population policy.
Although the dialogue was scheduled to commence by 9:00 a.m., it will be starting late as few of the participants are yet to settle in. Top dignitaries also expected at the event are yet to arrive.
10:00 a.m. – Participants are still trooping into the hall and registration is ongoing.
10:02 a.m– All is set for the commencement of the event. The lead facilitator of the event, Umar Kawu, takes the podium and the event commences with the National anthem.
10:04 a.m– Mr Kawu welcomes participants to the event. He calls the dignitaries to the high table.
10:09 a.m– Mr Umar calls some dignitaries to the high table. They include the representative of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Maryam Uwais, who is the special adviser to the president on social investment; the director general of NIPSS, Ayo Omotayo and the chairman of NPC, Isa Kwarra, represented by Ismail Suleiman, the federal high commissioner Kano.
Others are Ejike Oji, representing the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, the President of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON-PAS) Habib Sadauki, and the President of the Population Association of Nigeria, Rhoda Mundi.
10:14 a.m– Mr Umar lists out the objectives of the dialogue. He said the NIPSS Senior Executive Course(SEC) 42 2020 were directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to focus on finding solutions for population growth and human capital development for Nigeria in the SEC 42.
10: 16 a.m: He said the institute delivered on its mandate and made necessary recommendations to the president.
10:18 a.m: The DG of NIPSS, Mr Omotayo, takes the podium to deliver the welcome address. He said the NIPSS is saddled with the responsibility of carrying out research. He said the institute has delivered on its mandate every year including the 2020 mandate which focuses on population growth.
10:19 a.m: He said the theme for SEC 2020 was “population growth and human capital development: challenges and opportunities”. Mr Omotayo said the theme was apt because of the need to interrogate the tenuous causal relationship between population size, human capital development and the quest for sustainable livelihood in Nigeria.
10:22 a.m: He said at a growth of 1.05 per cent, it is projected that the world population will reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion by 2050. He, however, said the shares of population growth, ability to effectively manage population growth, as well as the capacity to cope with the consequences of a large population, vary significantly from one country to another.
10:24 a.m– He said Nigeria continues to demonstrate commitment to addressing population growth and human capital development, hence the new policy on population is a clear demonstration of that commitment.
Mr Omotayo ends his remarks.
10:26 a.m– The representative of the chairman of NPC, Isa Kwarra, takes the podium. He is represented by Ismail Suleiman, the federal high commissioner in Kano.
10:27 a.m– He said the findings and recommendations of the NIPSS research showed the severity of challenges posed by the country’s rapid population growth and the prevailing and prospective age structure.
10:29 a.m– He said this aroused the need for Nigeria to have a revised national population policy that would address the recommendations and facilitate processes that will provide opportunities to change the narrative.
10:32 a.m– He said Nigeria’s population is one of the highest in the world and that as of 2019, 86.7 per cent of Nigerians depended on others to survive, meaning that only 27.9 million people out of over 200 million were productive.
10: 33 a.m– Mr Kwarra said the new population policy is a very comprehensive and veritable document with provisions for addressing all the recommendations of the SEC 42.
10: 34 a.m– He said the effective implementation of the policy requires the involvement, enhancement and support of everyone. “ I seize this opportunity to make a clarion call for both technical and financial support for the timely and efficient facilitation of the full implementation of the policy, he said. Mr Kwarra has concluded his speech and he leaves the podium.
10:37 a.m– The country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Ulla Meuller, takes the podium to deliver her goodwill message.
10:38 a.m: Represented by Dashe Dasogot, Head Population and Development Unit, UNFPA, Ms Meuller said addressing issues of a growing population is highly critical in ensuring that Nigeria achieves the 2030 sustainable development goals.
10:39 a.m– Ms Meuller said the newly revised policy will address issues of the growing population in the country.
10:42 a.m– The director of projects at dRPC, Stanley Ukpai, takes the podium to deliver his goodwill message. Mr Ukpai said the NIPSS delegates were tasked with finding solutions to population growth and human capital development in Nigeria.
10:43 a.m– He said dRPC took advantage of the opportunity to support NIPSS for a well-rounded experience.
10:45 a.m– He said the more frequent engagements with CSO that NIPSS SEC have; the more likely the executives will be able to positively accept an accountability role for CSOs in public health and the more ready they will be health champions working in collaboration with CSOs to advance child and family health priorities.
10:49 a.m – The president of PAN, Rhoda Mundi, takes the podium for the goodwill message. Ms Mundi said the newly revised population policy for sustainable development has the overall goal of improving the quality of life and the standards of living of the people of Nigeria.
10:50 a.m – She said although the 2004 population policy addressed the prevailing development issues of the time, it was not effectively implemented at all government levels.
10:52 a.m – She said this dialogue will help deliberate on who is responsible for the implementation of the new policy and also remind everyone to take ownership of the policy. Ms Mundi ends her remark.
10:54 a.m – Ejike Oji, the chairman management committee Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, takes the podium to deliver his goodwill message.
10:55 a.m – Mr Oji said Nigeria is in a demographic crisis. He decried the immigration rate of medical practitioners and also the security challenges all over the country.
10:56 a.m – He said the country needs to transit, unless “we bring down our fertility rate below four. Ensure that one per cent of national health budget goes to family planning,” he said.
10:57 a.m – He said stakeholders must work together to achieve Nigeria’s commitment to the FP2030 blueprint. He ends his goodwill message.
11:00 a.m – The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, takes the podium to deliver his speech. Mr Osinbajo is represented by the special adviser to the president on social investment, Maryam Uwais.
11:02 a.m – Mr Osinbajo said the newly launched population policy will no doubt solve the plethora of population issues existing in the country.
11:03 a.m – He said for a country to experience economic growth, human capital must be heavily invested in it. “It has been argued that population is not the problem but proper management,” he said.
11:04 a.m – He said the advantage of a high population includes increased taxes and productivity, among others. He however said when a high population is not properly managed, it leads to increased crime rates, unemployment, environmental pollution, and more.
11:05 a.m – He said it can also result in excessive pressure on natural resources, insufficient food, inadequate housing, traffic congestion, poor human capital indices in so many spheres, insecurity and instability.
11:06 a.m – He said population growth without adequate management is cancerous and a time bomb waiting to explode.
11:07 a.m – He said all hands need to be on deck to support the fast-growing population, to overcome the gaps that already exist.
11:09 a.m – Mr Osinbajo said the country urgently needs to build on the sub-national economies to support the rapidly-growing population.
11:11 a.m – He said dialogue such as these would support the shaping of policies around grey areas, and as well to advance better implementation measures for adoption.
11:13 a.m – He said, “it is time for us as a country to engage with sensitive matters because the very stability of our future depends on these conversations.” That’s the end of the Vice President’s speech.
11: 16 a.m – It’s time for a tea break. Please stay with us.
12:08 p.m: The tea break is over and participants are all seated.
12:10 p.m – Mr Umar takes the podium to welcome participants back to the hall. He calls the comptroller, Francis Enobore, to speak on “NIPSS SEC 42 reflections two years post findings from the SEC 42 theme; population growth and human capital development.”
12:12 p.m – Mr Enobore said the outcome of the NIPSS Senior Executive Course (SEC) 42 2020 led to the revised population policy. He said a major part of the policy is addressing population growth through family planning.
12:14 p.m – He said for the country to curb the growing population rate, the rate of fertility must first be addressed. He said previous efforts made to address the country’s population failed due to some socio-cultural factors.
12:15 p.m – He said a large population presents opportunities in the form of a large market and supply of labour to drive economic growth. He said these opportunities can only be realised if population growth is properly managed. “Unfortunately a wide gap still exists.”
12:17 p.m -He said more awareness must be created especially at the community level to reduce reproduction rates in the country. “We need to get to those hard-to-reach areas and make them understand the message,” he said.
12:20 p.m – He said the environment must be studied to arrive at an effective method of passing the messages across. This message must be passed in a language the people at the rural level understand.
12:22 p.m: He concluded by saying “If you think you can, you are right, if you think you can’t, you are right, success is the decision you make.”
12:26 p.m: The next session is a series of round tables to talk about the implementation of the new policy.
12: 30 p.m – The first round table discussion is titled “Implementing the National population policy, who’s responsibility”? Those on this panel are Mr Enobore, Mr Oji and Ms Mundi.
12:32 p.m – Ms Mundi said all sectors are responsible for the implementation of the new policy. All ministries, agencies, traditional rulers and every other person are responsible for this.
12:33 p.m – “Until it becomes everyone’s goal, we may not be able to achieve a collective goal of curbing population growth,” she said.
12:35 p.m – The next speaker is Mr Enobore. He said overpopulation is an issue that involves everyone. He said traditional and religious leaders must also be involved to reach those at the community level.
12:36 p.m – He said advocacy on fertility issues must target both males and females. He said the focus is mainly on women meanwhile the males play vital roles in women’s high fertility rates.
12:37 p.m – The next speaker is Margaret Edison, representing DG of the NPC, Gaji Ismail. He said the first and critical responsibility goes to the president of the country, while others follow.
12:38 p.m – Mr Ismail said all parties involved must play their role to ensure the country meets the SDG by 2030. He said while doing this, sensitisation and adequate funding are also required to achieve all set targets.
12:40 p.m – He said those at the local level lack adequate knowledge to make wise decisions. He said more awareness programmes must be created to reach these persons.
12:42 p.m – He explained that it is the responsibility of every person present to educate others on the importance of contributing to the economic growth and development of the country.
12:44 p.m: The next speaker is Mr Oji, the chairman Committee of AAFP. He said the country needs to put into perspective what different organisations have to do and the need for collaboration.
12:45 p.m: He said a knee-jerk approach cannot be used to address the issues of population management.
12:46 p.m: Outlining ways in which the population can be managed, Mr Orji noted that fertility control must be taken seriously as well as an effective and improved healthcare system bearing in mind infant mortality which is a contributory factor to a large number of children.
12:49 p.m: He added that Nigeria must invest in quality, accessible and appropriate education among others.
12:51 p.m: Mr Orji added that authorities at the sub-national level should be involved in the implementation of these policies.
12:52 p.m: Ms Mundi takes the mic again. She calls for everyone’s active participation.
12:54 p.m: Mr Enobore takes the mic. He said deliberate efforts to improve the development of the girl child are strategic. He said fertility issues must be discussed at the early stages to achieve impactful advocacy.
01:00 p.m: Mr Ismail said the idea of educating girls at the early stage is strategic. He said different methods can be adapted to address high fertility rates. He said, “We must adopt focus, targeted and reorientation method to reach persons concerned.”
01:04 p.m: He said a look at the population policy showed that all aspects has been captured. He said the revised policy must be distributed so every agency, CSOs and individual will know their responsibilities.
01:08 p.m: Mr Oji closed the panel by saying strategic stakeholders need to be identified in order to deliver on the new policy. He emphasised on the need to mobilise funds from different quarters including the NGF and local government.
01:11 p.m: He said adequate funding is essential to achieve every goal stated in the newly revised national population policy.
01:13 p.m: He said training for CSOs in terms of accountability is very important.
01:17 p.m: He said media involvement is also required to achieve major goals. He noted that community media can ensure the messages reach the grassroots. He said resources must be provided to ensure they deliver their parts.
01: 22 p.m: It’s time for other participants to make contributions. The chairman, AAFP, Umar Jabbi, said it is important for the commodities to reach the target audience for the country to achieve its goals.
01:25 p.m: Mr Jabbi commended the panellists for addressing fertility rates. He said there is a need to focus on progress made by the country. “Without this, we will not know how to move forward,” he said.
01:30 p.m: Other participants are making contributions to the points raised by the panellists. Some suggested collaborations amongst CSOs and other stakeholders, while others call for expanding sensitisation for family planning. One of the participants said the government must make contraceptives available for women when they need them. He said that’s one of the issues affecting women especially those in hard-to-reach areas.
01:35 p.m: Another participant said without the provision of contraceptives, women will not be able to make the right choice thus contributing to the country’s already overburdened situation.
01:39 p.m: A participant said advocacy without adequate provision of contraceptives is ineffective. He said there should be a framework for adequate and timely distribution of contraceptives.
01:44 p.m: Another participant, Zainab Muktar, said the policymakers should speak more to adolescents and young persons to get their perspectives.
01:47 p.m: Ms Muktar said it’s time for adolescents to be involved in decision-making. “We are always identified as the problem but never involved in solution making,” she said.
01:49 p.m: She said more adolescent involvement will help the country achieve a greater result.
01:52 p.m: A participant, Joy Oseni, said there is a need for one on one advocacy on the benefits of family planning. She said it is important to educate people that family planning is not only for health purposes but also has economic implications for them as women.
01: 54 p.m: Another participant calls for the involvement of traditional and religious leaders in awareness creation. He said people in rural communities obey their leader’s instructions, hence their involvement will yield positive results.
01:58 p.m: Mr Ismail takes the mic again to respond to questions raised by participants. He said Nigeria is on course to conducting a census in 2023.
02:00 p.m: Mr Orji takes the mic. He said myths and misconceptions about family planning contribute to why women avoid family planning.
02:10 p.m: The facilitator, Mr Kawu, takes the podium. He appreciates the panellists for their contributions and time.
02:12 p.m: Lunch Break. We will be back by 3:00p.m, please stay with us.
03:12 p.m: Lunch break is over
03:13 p.m: The second round table discussion is about to commence. The title is “Discourse on population and demographic dividend”.
03:15 p.m: The first panellist is the managing partner of Albright Stonebridge group, Ekenem Isichei. He said the country’s GDP rate is lower than the mortality rate which means “we are pushing out more babies than we generate revenue”.
03:16 p.m: Mr Isichei said more women are needed in leadership roles to be able to pass across information to women in rural communities.
03:18 p.m: The second panellist is Mr Oji. He said it will take Nigeria more than 20 years to transit to a demographic dividend based on the current realities unless there is a dramatic shift.
03:20 p.m: He also said there is a need to put in place a good accountability framework to achieve the target. He said messages can be situated to fit in the various realities of the different groups of Nigerian society.
03:23 p.m: Ms Meuller, UNFPA country director, is the third panellist. She said for the country to attain fertility decline, “we need to revisit documents on demographic transition”.
03:25 p.m: She said the critical challenge for achieving demographic dividend includes a high dependency ratio. She noted that the low investment in human capital also impedes the transition to demographic dividend, citing the declining investment in health budgets.
03:27 p.m: Ms Meuller said Nigeria lacks a relevant policy to enable it to transition effectively.
03:29 p.m: The fourth panellist is Mr Enobore. He said policies should be handed to professional communicators for proper communication with the public. He said this will ensure strategic messages gets to the target audience.
03:33 p.m: Mr Omotayo, the DG of NIPSS, close this discussion by saying “our different socio-cultural values impedes the full adaptation of population control.”
03:53 p.m: The third round table discussion titled “Civil society advocacy for adequate funding for family planning and the National population policy” commences.
03:55 p.m: The first panellist is Mr Sadauki, president of SOGON-PAS. He said family planning is very important in the development of any country. He said it is effective in India, China and other countries.
03:57 p.m: He said adequate funding is required to implement any project including family planning. He said the CSOs have been advocating for increased funding for family planning.
03:59 p.m: He noted that even when the funds are included in the budget, they are not released. “We need to re-strategise in order to get funders to listen to us,” he said.
04:02 p.m: The next panellist is the National President, Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN-PAS), Kemi Otolorin. She is represented by Eno Obot.
04:03 p.m: Ms Otolorin said men need to be involved in family planning as they play a major role in childbearing.
04:06 p.m: The third panellist is Shina Ogunbiyi, the coordinator Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI-PAS). He said CSOs are advocating increased funding for family planning. He said there have also been community engagements to enlighten the people on its importance.
04:10 p.m: Ms Otolorin takes the mic. She said other states should emulate Lagos State’s activities in addressing family planning. She said although some states are doing well, more can be done to ensure every woman and household knows about family planning and its importance.
04:13 p.m: She said after today’s dialogue, communication must continue until the country achieves its goal of modern contraceptive use.
04:16 p.m: Mr Ogunbiyi takes the mic to close the session. He said the cost of providing care for unwanted pregnancies outweighs the cost of contraception.
04: 17 p.m: He said CSOs must engage state governments to contribute to the fund basket for Family Planning. He said 10 states and the FCT have been contributing but other states are still lacking behind.
04: 19 p.m: “If these states can make contributions to family planning funds, a lot can be achieved,” he said.
04:23 p.m: He said it’s ironic that the revised population policy was launched the same year there is no budget line for family planning. “Our government needs to do more,” he said.
04:25 p.m: Mr Kawu, the facilitator, takes the mic. He appreciates the panellists for their great contributions.
04:28 p.m: The president of AANI, Mohammed Abubakar, takes to the podium for the closing remarks. Represented by Mr Okafor, he said there is an urgent need for behavioural change among Nigerians regarding population growth.
04:30 p.m: He said population control will help reduce unemployment and crime rates. He said the newly revised policy has provided every plan needed to curb population growth.
04:33 p.m: Mr Abubakar said a framework is needed for the implementation of the policies and all recommendations. He said all stakeholders must work today to ensure the success of its implementation.
04:35 p.m: He wished all participants safe travels to their destinations.
04:37 p.m: That brings us to the end of this dialogue. Thank you for staying with us.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999