Odimegwu Onwumere writes that health challenges among Nigerians are increasing as the growth in population is increasing. The report expresses concern by the prediction of experts saying that by 2050, Nigeria’s population would skyrocket and poverty would increase, hence authorities should be mindful
Professor Oladapo Ladipo, the Chief Executive Officer, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), showed illustrious trepidation at the fourth Nigeria’s family planning conference held in Abuja, November 7 2016, of what the survival of Nigerians would be in 24 years, given that the country is already finding it difficult to manage its about 188 million population.
Without a doubt, Nigeria is habitually increasing in population and there are indices that the country will outnumber the United States of America (USA) by 30 million people by 2050. Prof. Ladipo feared, “We have a population policy that currently encourages four children per couple. I think that policy needs to be revisited by government and we all sit down together to do what is rational. I will not support legislation. Family planning should be free. It is by choice. But everybody should recognise that everyone has the right to family planning.”
The unchecked population has already become a big problem for Nigeria, with the United Nations documented estimate in March 22 2016, saying that Nigeria is 186 million in population. “Nigeria ranks number seven in the world and a population that is equivalent to 2.48 per cent of the global total,” said the source.
Worried by the customarily population increase in the country, on July 16, 2016, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at an event hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama, on Africa and Sustainable Development Goals on the tangential of the African Union meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, had said that about 110 million Nigerians are living in poverty.
Ikenna Asomba, a Nigerian journalist on August 27, 2015, had reported, “Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria in June 2015, brought to the front burner the issue of youth unemployment in the country, stating that 80 per cent of Nigerian youths are without jobs, and disclosed that unemployment remains a severe threat to Nigeria’s economy.” Professor Ladipo expressed disquiet over the population policy of the country that gives a nod to four children per couple and wanted the policy to be revisited.
“Currently, poverty is endemic in this country. And, there are many people in this country whose legacy for their children is poverty. Those that we train in this country are looking for greener pasture because the local environment is not conducive. In other words, we are exporting our greatest resource because the environment is not conducive for them to stay. This is a negative thing to the nation,” Professor Ladipo lamented.
A Country Director of DKT International Nigeria, Mr. Dimos Sakellaridis had in 2014, while addressing newsmen in Lagos, screamed of the population that the country is experiencing today.
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB), a Washington-based population, health, and environment organisation had harangued in its PRB August 2015 Data Sheet that Nigeria would topple Indonesia to occupy the No. 4 on the index of most populated countries in the world.
According to the report, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia would respectively replace Russia and Mexico in the No. 9 and No. 10 population spots by 2050. The data showed that Nigeria was No. 7 with a predictable 182 million people, and would have 397 million people by that year.
Speaking in 2014, Sakellaridis said, “Nigeria currently has an estimated population of 174 million people and with the current growth rate, the population will be 450 million by 2050. A major concern about this rapidly growing population is the fact that jobs, national infrastructures, social services, housing, health care facilities are not also growing at an equally comparable rate or at a faster rate like her population growth rate does.”
Sakellaridis added, saying, “Growth in population well researched statistics by experts show that by 2040, Nigeria’s population growth would have been quadrupled and without commensurate amenities and employment to sustain it; it would not augur well.”
Sakellaridis was shouting above voice that the country’s population would quadruplet if urgent needs are not put in place to checkmate the leap. The professional’s fears were that the pervasiveness of HIV and other forms of STDs were leading to unsystematic procreation of babies. This was due to unshielded sex, which could lead to many types of social problems that do not favour mankind.
“The reason is because poverty would have increased and there wouldn’t be enough work and food “to go round. On the other hand, if people lived well, there wouldn’t be insurgence because poverty which drives people to extremes would be greatly reduced,” Sakellaridis had said.
Dr. Aisha Mahmood, a Special Assistant on Sustainable Banking, CBN, while delivering a paper on Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principle during the 2014 World Environment Day programme, organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment in Abuja, had said, “As the population is growing, the resources that we all depend on, the food, energy, water, is declining. The demand for these resources will rise exponentially by the year 2030, with the world needing about 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water.
“In Nigeria, there is the issue of youth and employment. 70 per cent of the 80 million youths in Nigeria are either unemployed or underemployed. We are all witness to what happened recently during the immigration recruitment exercise and this is simply because 80 per cent of the Nigerian youth are unemployed.”
Niran Adedokun, a public affairs analyst, had on August 25, 2016, said, “Yet, Nigeria makes no attempt to check population growth. We just live for the now without sparing much thought for the future of the country. As China, India and even Ghana attempted at some point in their history, one would expect that Nigeria would, by itself, take control of its destiny and create a measure of population control to avoid an explosion and entrench a poverty trap.”
Tagged the National Policy on Population for Development, Unity, Progress and Self Reliance, the Federal government introduced its first policy on population in 1988, with the aim to, “Reduce the proportion of women who bear more than 4 children by 80 per cent by 2000, reduce Infant Mortality Rate to 50 per 1000 live birth by 1995 and 30 per 1000 live birth by the year 2000.
“Reduce the number of pregnancy to women below the age of 18 and above the age of 35 years by 50 per cent by 1995 and by 90 per cent by the year 2000, make Family Planning services available to 50 per cent of women of child bearing age by 1995 and 80 per cent by year 2000, reduce rate of population growth from 3.3 to 2.5 per cent by 1995 and 2 per cent in the year 2000, provide suitable Family Life Education, Family Planning Information and Services to all adolescents by the year 2000.”
Yet, Nigeria is a country with a population problem. She does not know how to go about it. There are indications that many children are out of school and the masses are suffering untoward unemployment and health problems. It is however evident that the country is not sincerely making quality case to arrest its population explosion and the problems it is generating.