Solve Nigeria’s demographic crisis now- Experts warn govt
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Family planning experts have warned the government against ignoring the impending demographic crisis in Nigeria, saying it is time to devise innovative strategies to control the rapidly bulging population.

They warn that the high growth rate of Nigeria’s population is not commensurate with the level of development or resources available to cater to citizens.

In 2006, the National Demographic Health Survey pegged Nigeria’s population at 140.4 million, in 2015, it recorded 188.74 million but with a continuous growth rate of 3.2% and a fertility rate of up to 5.5%, the country has hit 221.39 million in 2020.

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA had estimated that at the current rate, Nigeria could reach 500 million people by 2050, to become the third-largest population in the world if there are no checks.

According to research, 70% of Nigeria’s population are under the age of 30, 45%, under 15 and are dependents, while only 3.5% are above the age of 65.

However, experts believe the major cause of the population burst is the low contraceptive prevalence rate which has remained at only 12% for the longest time.

A disaggregation of Nigeria’s human indices according to statistics, indicate that regions with the highest populations have the worst data in terms of poverty levels, mortality rates, lack of education, crime and violence while regions with smaller populations rank lower in such issues.

Family planning specialist, Dr. Ejike Orji says these indicators do not represent a country ready to harness its diverse demography.

The result is that Nigeria is recorded as the poverty capital of the world, ranks 187 out of 189 countries in health care, has a high rate of emigration, unemployment, a huge population of sexually active adolescents and teenagers with no access to contraceptives and a high maternal-infant mortality rates, with about 111 women and girls dying every day due to preventable pregnancies and childbirth-related complications.

Dr. Orji warned that there must be a massive investment in the nation’s education and healthcare sectors if the looming demographic crisis is to be averted.

He says investment in health care will ensure the reduction in maternal and child deaths, as well as under-five mortality rates while qualitative education will ensure the youthful population choose to study and work in Nigeria rather than emigrating abroad.

‘‘The key strategy we need is to improve family planning services to be qualitative and accessible to women and men to reduce the rate of population growth. We already have all the signs of a demographic crisis with our uneducated youthful bulge, always ready to perpetrate violence,’’ he explains.

‘’Part of the reasons women have so many children is because they don’t know how many will survive, if maternal services are good, children will not die, infant mortality rates will be low so that if a woman decides to have only two children, she knows the two will survive’’.

‘‘Investing in relevant, functional and appropriate education will ensure that the citizens have the tools to contribute to the economy, rather than being dependent on the government,’’ he said.

Dr. Amina Aminu-Dorayi, the Country Director, Pathfinder, says implementing existing policies to build resilience could be the key to solving family planning problems but she worries that private sector engagement remains too low for results.

‘‘The gaps in private sector involvement in FP service delivery is still very low, partner communication with advocacy is not effective. Many women are eager to space childbirth or access family planning but they do not know where to go or what to use.

‘‘If we do not adopt new strategies to fit into current realities, then the pledge to achieve modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 27% among all women cannot be fulfilled

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