James Emejo in Abuja
The Emir of Kano, Muhammdu Sanusi II yesterday described the present Nigerian population as a liability rather than an asset.
Speaking during a round-table session on
‘Nigeria in 2050 – Boom or Bust?’ at the ongoing 25th Nigerian Economy Summit, he said all the current social vices including the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen/farmers clashes, drug addiction, out-of-school children- all had direct bearing to the consequences of population.
Speaking alongside Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Founder, The Kukah Centre, Bishop Matthew Kukah; and Chief Executive, Jumia Nigeria, Mrs. Juliet Anammah, Sanusi said: “I think we should get away from this question of it (population) is an asset or liability- it is a liability.
“And all the issues you have from herdsmen/farmers clashes, Boko Haram, drug addiction, out-of-school children- these are all tied to the population we have and the question is how do you turn that into a productive one?”
He also decried the high rate of divorce between husbands and wives and called on the authorities to create an obstacle to divorce.
He said currently, the process of a divorce appeared to be too cheap for man- who often times, gets away with no responsibility given him to cater for the family he left behind, thereby leaving a trail of poverty.
Essentially, he said husbands who seek for a divorce be made to bear the full consequences by allowing him to part with his valuable assets to serve as a deterrent and reduce divorce rate.
He said there is currently no protection for divorce, adding that the country needs to put responsibility on marriage divorce going forward.
The conversation focused on how demographic realities be transformed into social and business opportunities and its implications on internal migration and threats to sustainable peace and security.
According to the monarch, “this population problem is perhaps the most important developmental challenge we have to face. If we don’t have a demographic transition, we will never have economic transition.”
He said there’s a need for a change of mindset and for people to see the woman as humans with rights to education as well as to earn income.
He said as long as women are seen as baby factories, the challenges of population control will persist.
Sanusi said education remained the best contraception for women.
On his part, Fayemi said people needed to be shown the pathway to progress through proper education.
He said the Child Rights Act needed to be enforced to make a difference.
However, Kukah expressed the need for greater inter-faith collaboration in issues relating to birth control and other social vices common in religious settings.
He blame the northern part of the country for part of the issues in population because several efforts to effect behavioural change had been rebuffed in the past.