A report by World Poverty Clock (WPC), declared: “Nigeria has overtaken India as the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.” The WPC is a tool used to monitor progress against poverty globally and regionally as it provides real-time poverty data across countries.
Extreme poverty, as defined by the World Bank, is living on $1.25 or less a day and, according to WPC, the number of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria, increases by 6 every minute, the highest rate in the world. At the end of May 2018, the survey showed that Nigeria had an estimated 87 million people living in extreme poverty, compared to India’s 73 million, predicting that the country will become the world’s third largest country by 2050.
Following this report, it is safe to assume that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end extreme poverty by 2030 may be unattainable, as Africa faces an unprecedented growth in its population.
According to world population review, at the time of independence, Nigeria’s population was estimated at 45.2 million. In 2012, the total population of Nigerian citizens, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, was set at 166.2 million people, showing a population increase of about 268% between 1960 and 2012. Following this trend, the world population review has estimated that by the end of 2019, Nigeria will have an estimated population of 200.96 million people.
One of the key players in overpopulation is the economically disadvantaged person who is unaware of the dangers this poor family planning poses. In this way they serve as obstacles to the nation, prohibiting the economy from flourishing as it should. Overpopulation is extremely detrimental to any society, it can result to decline in mortality rates, an increase in immigration, or an unsustainable biome and depletion of resources. It is possible for very sparsely populated areas to be overpopulated if the area has a meagre or non-existent capability to sustain life. The digitization of the workspace is already reducing human resource demands across all sectors of the economy today and, as such, there is very little need for a robust population. So, why procreate so frequently when most of the jobs will be handled by machines and artificial intelligence in the near future?
If the trend of producing babies excessively continues, it means that with the advent of technology there will be fewer jobs for people and an even greater number of citizens will be left unemployed.
The higher the population, the lower the resources available to create an enabling environment for economic activities and individual endeavours.
In an essay by Aderanti Adepoju of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Migration Human Resources Development Centre, Adepoju says that the distinctive features of migration include increasing female migration, diversification of migration destinations, transformation of labour flows into commercial migration, and emigration of skilled health and other professionals, while Migration causes a ‘brain drain’. In Nigeria, this is a critical issue affecting the human resource development index of the nation as more Nigerian professionals, especially in the medical and educational sectors, are leaving the country for Europe, America and other developed countries of the world in search of a better life for themselves and a better use of their skills.
Those in leadership positions in the country have not been committed to controlling the
population growth rate or maximizing the potential of the country’s human resource. Essentially, if population growth is controlled, there will be more resources available to cater to a large chunk of society.
Being intentional about birth control is not rocket science. It is an issue that has been addressed across the world in different countries through different methods. A vivid example is Singapore, under the leadership of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He was an intelligent visionary who engineered and transformed Singapore into what it is now in the space of less than half a century. Older Singaporeans will remember the Stop-At-Two policy, a part of the National Family Planning Programme, which lasted for three years (1972–75) was used to control the country’s budding population due to its small land mass.
Did Singapore make it through or not?
The numbers do not lie. Statistics on Singapore’s economy from 1959 to 2014, show that since the policy was implemented, more banks were opened, increasing its numbers from 34 to 137 and literacy rates improved from 52% in 1964 to 90% in 1990, which improved quality of workers.
During his tenure, the unemployment rate declined from 13.5% to 1.7%, due to his reform on the educational system, industrialization and foreign direct investment policies. More hospitals were opened with more appointed doctors and nurses and, with overall improvements in the economy, technology and medical industry, the average life expectancy of Singaporeans increased from 65 years in 1959 to 74 years in 1990 and it is currently estimated at 82.5 years.
These statistics are from a country with no natural resources to boost its GDP, as Nigeria does, but has done all it can to improve population control, thus ensuring that all its citizens benefit from the economy.
Do you think this would have been possible without an effective birth control policy that was implemented properly?
Compare these statistics with Nigeria’s. Considering the comparative advantage of this country and Nigeria, which should be faring better? As we do not intentionally control our population, we find it difficult to maximize the potential of the whopping amount of human resource we currently possess.
We should start asking the tough questions. Why does our democratic government fail to lead with focus-driven intentions? Why do they shy away from solution driven responsibilities?
The Way Forward:
In proffering solutions, a few ways through which the endemic repercussive effects of incessant population growth can be reduced is by intentionally providing basic amenities, especially in the health sector. Also, embarking on an aggressive campaign using different media platforms for the purpose of sensitizing the public on the effect of excessive child-bearing and the need for reduction, rewarding adherent individuals and introducing birth control policies practicable in a democratic setting.
Although family planning exists in Nigeria, we must also remember that the Democratic Republic of Congo established a National Family Planning Program (Project National des Naissances desirables, or PSND) in the early 1980s, which became inactive at the wake of the political turmoil and social unrest, causing forewing investors and international donor agencies to withdraw completely or reduce support to the country, plunging the country further into poverty.
In conclusion, this is to emphasize that attempts must be made to heighten the profile of family planning in Nigeria and we must be interested in exploring factors that would massively and intensively contribute to evolving support for family planning.
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