Demographic Dividends: Osinbajo Calls for Urgent Measures to Avoid Time Bomb

Kuni Tyessi, Abuja

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for measures to be put in place towards reaping the gains of a large population, bearing in mind that Nigeria’s youthful population is key and serves as an advantage for optimum economic growth.

He said the roadmap which had been established by the federal government towards achieving this has been divided into four pillars which include, employment and entrepreneurship, education, skills and competency development, health and wellbeing and also rights and governance as well as youth empowerment.

Osinbajo disclosed this in Abuja at a programme organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with a theme on ‘Harnessing demographic dividend for sustainable development of Nigeria: The role of Muslim religious leaders.’

He said the relevant demographic gain shows the prospects and potentials of a prosperous future for Nigeria especially if appropriate and timely actions are put in place, as well as the successful implementation of the roadmap, which requires that all inclusive and robust stakeholders engagement and participation are offered.

He said: “Nigeria’s population is currently estimated at about 192 million, the largest in Africa. About 63 per cent of the population is under the age of 25.

“About 33 per cent are between the ages of 10-24 and 54.8 per cent, the working ages which is between the ages of 15-64.

“Also, 51 per cent of that number are considered to be the female population and are in their reproductive ages, which is between 15-49 years.

“The successful implementation of the roadmap requires that all inclusive and robust stakeholders engagement and participation are offered.

“In playing these roles, leaders themselves need to be exposed to the prevailing policy issues, options and ideas to test these ideas against their own beliefs, and to see and discover ways of projecting these ideas into the various populations.”

In the same vein, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Salish Shehu in his address, said Islam is interested in harnessing demographic dividends and looks at it from a holistic perspective.

He said in Islam, marriage is a norm of worship and whatever comes from it is worship in itself.

He said: “In Islam, it is not just the issue of saving the life of the mother, but ensuring that she is not in any way subjected to avoidable penury, difficulties and harm. These must be ensured. The mother must not be harmed in any way, not to talk of negligence, ignorance or whatever form of malpractice or weakness as the case may be.

“So pregnancy in Islam shouldn’t be looked at from the ordinary sense of it, but pregnancy and the suffering that goes with it are all forms of worship. If a woman goes through pregnancy and goes through sickness, all these should not go in vain. She gets reward from Allah”.

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