Nigeria’s Population Growth Rate: An Imminent Tragedy
Yet another year, 2018 is here to avail us with the opportunities the previous years offered us; opportunities for development and adjustments. While we jubilate and revel in another opportunity granted unto us, while we honor our creator for sparing our lives, I think we should be petrified just as much for the impending danger, which we’re not taking drastic measures to prevent.
A couple of days ago, UNICEF released a press release on the statistics of children born on the first day of the year, Nigeria came third on the ranking with a figure approximated at 20,211 out of about 386,000 (5%). While I’ll consider fertility rate a coin of good and evil in a stable country, in Nigeria, it may be way beyond just a tragedy.
Childbearing ought to be a thing of great happiness, in fact, children are usually considered bundles of joy, but in a country that has lost its bearing since the last century and has refused to get a good landing ground ever since, a speedy increase in fertility rate on an existing teeming population of about 184 million people (according to the National Population Commission) is nothing short of a disaster. Undoubtedly, we are giving much credence to the the statistics given by the UN in its World Population Prospects 2017, pointing out that Nigeria will overtake the United States to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050.
If in just one day we could have so many newborns, then what happens in 365 days – over 7.3 million newborns. We know some may not make it beyond infancy, but the figure will be small, a drop out of an ocean.
I wouldn’t bellow out if Nigeria is a developed state, in which case we could cater for a rising population, but all these seem to be a far cry from the case, we’re a million miles away from abating poverty, we’re yet to take appropriate care of the existing population, yet we’re not careful about the more innocent souls we bring in to suffer the same fate. We’re even still battling to garner resources for a Census that should have been long done, talk more of accommodating abundant bundles of perhaps — joy.
Even China which has larger resources to cater for more children has been curbing the excesses from the 1970’s one-child policy which was recently amended in 2015 to two-child policy. (A two-child policy is a government-imposed limit of two children allowed per family or the payment of government subsidies only to the first two children- Wikipedia). But here’s Nigeria paying zero attention to to this concern.
The increase in population can be attributed to the level of education of the masses. Some give birth continuously due to inadequate formal education. They even give out their female daughters at tender ages for marriage. Some ‘educated’ ones bear multiple children because they don’t see it as a big deal. Some others think it’s a ticket out of poverty which only plunges the country to greater privation in the long run.
What happens if we leave our population to grow?
Struggle for survival becomes more intense, this will lead to a huge chunk of the masses resorting to violence and vices, that which we’re already experiencing. The country’s resources become so scanty that the impact it’ll have on each citizen will be next to nothing.
Rand Corporation, a US based organization providing research and analysis to the armed forces states “High fertility can impose costly burdens on developing nations. It may impede opportunities for economic development, increase health risks for women and children, and erode the quality of life by reducing access to education, nutrition, employment, and scarce resources” – RAND CORPORATION.
While I’ll like to base the rapid birth rate statistics on lack of proper formal education, I feel the government has a great job to do in reorienting the masses both educated and otherwise on family planning and sex related actions through massive IEC campaigns. Likewise, the government should enact a law that will curb excess births from particular families/relationships/persons.
The New York Times has said it all in an article published on high fertility rate: “Only when fertility falls and investments in each child start to rise do societies appear to get on track for political stability and sustained growth in per capita incomes”.
There’s fire burning on the mountain and if we don’t take appropriate measures to curtail it, we would be on our heels one day with nowhere to run to, only then would we regret our inactions towards this stubborn surge.