The growing population question — THISDAY Editorial

Posted by News Express | 9 June 2022 | 262 times

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That Nigeria is today among the fastest growing countries of the world in terms of population is no longer in doubt. Ordinarily this should be a plus for us but with the way things are, it is not. Experts therefore warn of the dire consequences of this uncontrolled population growth. The prognosis is that there may come a time when food and other necessary provisions may be difficult for the ever-increasing number of people. Available statistics indicate that we may already be grappling with that reality.

Currently, Nigeria ranks 7th on the list of countries by population with a density of 193 persons per kilometer, while 51 per cent of that population is urban, and the media age is 17.8 years. According to the United Nations, by the year 2050, three of the 10 most populous countries in the world will be in Africa with more than a quarter of them in Nigeria. Against the background that uncontrolled population growth is already stretching the few infrastructure facilities in the country and contributing in large measure to the poor standards of living, there is indeed an urgent need to address the dire consequences of this uncontrolled population growth. 

Indeed, Nigeria has a lot to worry about concerning a population that continues to bulge exponentially, at a period the nation is ranked among the poorest people in the world. We are saddled with high incidence of unemployment, predominant production of primary goods over finished products, aging public infrastructure, opaque system of government as well as the activities of criminals who are pushing people from rural communities. The high rate of out-of-school children and poor output in the education sector also contribute negatively to deepening this problem as the nation churns out a crop of uncompetitive youth in a new world driven by technology, skills, and knowledge. 

Of course, we are mindful of the fact that some people may dismiss population growth issue as mere Western propaganda aimed at keeping developing countries from having large population. They could also point to China and India as countries with huge populations harvesting their “demographic dividends”. Yet, the fact being ignored is that China for decades controlled its population with its one-child per couple policy while the Indian state encourages some form of family planning. In any case, an idle (and largely illiterate population) such as we breed in Nigeria can only be a disaster waiting to happen.

However, we are not oblivious to religious practices and beliefs that frown at any talk of over population and therefore regard any suggestion that hints at birth control as heresy. But it is a simple economic fact that population growth that is not matched with commensurate socio-economic development can only breed chaos. On a positive note, however, we also understand that at a time when the population of many countries in Europe and Asia is ageing, Nigeria’s young population could be a demographic advantage but only if the policymakers can design appropriate policies that will improve the productive capacities of our people and put our people to work. To the extent that there is no such thing, then there is the need to worry.

There is no doubt that a sustainable society is the one with moderate population growth that enables its members to achieve a high quality of life in ways that are ecologically sustainable. Unless policymakers begin now to focus their attention on how to avert this ticking time bomb the consequences could be devastating and very difficult to reverse. We hope that critical stakeholders will see the recent UNICEF report as another wake-up call on the need to come up with strategies on population control in Nigeria. 

Source: News Express

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