Gbajabiamila Seeks Urgent Measures to Maximise Nigeria’s Population

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that Nigeria needs to urgently harness and maximize the advantages of its changing population structure.

Gbajabiamila spoke in Abuja yesterday  at an event titled, “Parliamentary Summit on Fast-Tracking Nigeria’s Demographic Transition”, organised by his office in collaboration with the National Population Commission (NPC) with support from the World Bank.

He said governments, at all levels, must identify and be deliberate in taking actions that must be sustained in order to maximize the advantages of the changing population structure.

He, however, noted that Nigeria could not afford to be complacent about the issue of demographic transition as that could be fatal in future if action was not taken now.

The Speaker stated: “It has been sixteen years since Nigeria’s last population and housing census. Our data about our population today is mainly based on projections and estimates rather than actual census data. What we do know for sure is that Nigeria has a significant and growing youth bulge in our population. And we also know that whether this fact turns out to be a good thing or a tragedy for our nation depends on the policy choices we make today and the actions we take now.

“Specifically, we are here to discuss the demographic dividend, that is, the growth in an economy that accrues as a result of a change in the age structure of a country’s population. To achieve this growth, we must consider deliberate, immediate and sustained action to drive a demographic transition that makes economic growth more attainable. 

”This summit is an opportunity for policymakers and stakeholders to become acquainted with the twin ideas of demographic dividend and demographic transition. It is expected that participants in this summit will emerge from this summit with greater clarity about the facts of our nation’s population size, the challenges of unmanaged growth and the opportunities that can arise from implementing a sensible national population management policy.”

Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji of the NPC, in his presentation, noted that Nigeria started addressing the issue of population growth and movement early being one of the first countries to launch a road map as early as 2017.

However, he warned that complacency should be avoided as that may prove fatal considering that signs of a miscarriage of the steps being taken are getting ominous.

The Emir of Shonga, HRH Dr. Yahaya who said the girl child must be given focus, urged that the traditional institution, with its influence at the grassroots should be fully involved in the implementation of actions to be taken towards deriving maximum dividends from demographic transition.

Stakeholders at the summit included members of the House of Representatives; the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen; Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Clement Agba, who was represented; the Emir of Shonga, His Royal Highness Dr. Haliru Yahaya; Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri; Executive Director, Legislative Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL); Development Director, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO); Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Ulla Mueller, who was represented; as well as the Deputy for Training, Research & Development NPFPB BKKBN, Indonesia, Prof. Rizal Damanik, who shared the Indonesian experience on demographic transition virtually.

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