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Nigeria And The Population Bomb

News » Editorials

28 June 2013


The United Nations, for the umpteenth time, last week raised alarm over what it perceives as population explosion in Nigeria. The global body states that Nigeria’s population is likely to hit 440 million by 2050, which would be 40 million more
than the projection for the United States. It is further projected that at the present rate of growth, Nigeria would start competing with China as the second most populous nation by the end of the century with a projected 914 million citizens.

Ordinarily, population growth for any nation should be perceived as a great impetus for economic development; and in the case of a developing country like Nigerian, an impetus for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. This is because there is no country in the world today with a high population density which does not have a high rate of sustainable economic development. The 27 richest countries in the world with high population densities all have high income per capita, whereas the poorest countries in the world have low population density and low income per capita.

Specifically, with a population density of about 335 persons per square kilometre, Japan enjoys income per capita of US 34,313 dollars. Equally, the Chinese economy has been growing steadily in the last 15 years (in fact, it is the fastest growing economy in the world today), thanks to its population density. Countries like Singapore, Bangladesh, India and many Asian countries have also reaped enormous demographic dividends from their respective large populations in the last 30 years.

Given the foregoing, the young people who constitute the bulk of Nigerian population could indeed be a vibrant work force to galvanise our economic growth and development. To that extent, we do not believe the real problem is in the fact that our population is growing; the real challenge is that we can no longer feed ourselves and the relevant stakeholders are not paying attention to the education of our young population. That then explains the growing concerns about our population which, rather than being an asset, could actually become a hindrance to our development as a nation, if nothing is done either to control it or make it more productive.

At independence, agriculture - livestock, forestry and fishery contributed more than 66 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the 1960s Nigeria was the world’s largest exporter of groundnuts and palm produce and the third largest producer and exporter
of cocoa. With quality education, our human capital also rated among the best in the world. But with oil and its rent-dependency, varying statistical data about our nation when compared with others, now suggest we lag behind in several areas, even within the continent. Yet given the capacity and ingenuity of our people, we are capable of growing enough food not only to feed ourselves but also to export to the outside world. What that therefore means is that Nigeria’s population will only cease to be a threat the moment it is matched by policies that meet the food challenge in our country and we can put our children in schools.

Just recently, the UNESCO Education for All Global
Monitoring Report confirmed Nigeria as holding the world record in the number of young people out of school. The report reveals that one out of every five Nigerian children is out of school with approximately 10.5 million kids practically roaming the streets without any secure future.

According to the report, 40 per cent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school with the Northern region recording the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls. These are some of the challenges those in authority must come to terms with so that our growing population does not ultimately lead us into a disaster.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 6 Years ago

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