By Bassey Inyang in Calabar
A former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, has warned that Nigeriaâ€™s growing population was a potential time bomb that was waiting to explode.
According to Duke, the increasing population of the country would, in future, either serve as a curse or blessing to the nation depending on the use to which the nation is put.
Relying on available statistics, Duke said Nigeriaâ€™s population was growing at a geometrical rate, and could increase from the current projection of 190 million to 400 million in the next 50 years.
Duke made the observation while delivering a lecture to participants at a pre-retirement seminar for assistant directors, deputy directors and directors of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) staged by the Chief Executive Officer of African Theme Consults Limited.
At the event which ended yesterday at Transcorp Metropolitan Hotel in Calabar, Cross River State, the former governor said the current level of unemployment in the country could not be isolated from an increasing population where majority of the youths were idle and unemployed.
He warned that except Nigeria and Nigerians become productive; the countryâ€™s population could become its albatross.
â€œOur nation today is going through a very difficult phase and we are not getting richer but poorer considering our large population and the activities of Boko Haram and kidnappings, which are now for economic interest.
â€œOur biggest problem in Nigeria is unemployment. In 30 years, Nigeria will be the third most populated nation on earth. If we donâ€™t change the trajectory of the country, we have a problem at hand. The beauty of Nigeria is the numbers, but the numbers become a problem if the numbers are not productive. The only way to enjoy the population is by being productive. â€œThe only way you can enjoy your money is to be productive because the government will not protect you. That 85 per cent of Nigerians today are not working and are depending on the 15 per cent that are working, and with this kind of scenario, we do not have disposable income in Nigeria,â€ Duke said.
The former governor who is credited to have promoted tourism as a means of revenue generation for the state advised the participants to be careful with their retirement benefits so make the proper investment decisions, and also not to be duped by fraudsters who are always looking for retirees to dupe.
â€œBeware of sugar-coated tongues and anything that sounds so good. Be careful as the more attractive a deal is, the more skeptical you should be as it does not matter if one stays for two to three years before he finally opts for what business to do because Nigeria is a very difficult environment to do business,â€ Duke said.
Responding to a question whether it was advisable for a retiree to engage in politics, Duke answered in the affirmative, but warned that they should not contest elections using their gratuity and other retirement benefits. He also advised them to get themselves involved in community activities to keep their bodies and soul active.
â€œBut if you go into politics, donâ€™t seek elective positions except you are being sponsored because the problem with our politics is that we do not put our best foot forward. Our politicians are job seekers and hustlers. They get there because you and I are not serious. Get involved in your community.â€
Duke advised them to venture into pilot schemes and keep them as simple as possible.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to make the mistakes others have made. But you must do something. If you try, you may succeed, but if you try carefully, you may likely succeed,â€ Duke said.