By Claire Nwachukwu
The rate at which the Nigeria population is growing is quite alarming and becoming a problem as the Nigerian economy is finding it difficult to cater for the fast-growing population. Against the background that uncontrolled increase is already stretching the few infrastructure facilities within the country and contributing in massive lives to the poor standards of living. Therefore, there is a need for the government to look into this as a matter of urgency.
In fact, available data show that a Nigerian woman gives birth to an average of 5.5 children in her lifetime. A commitment maker since 2012, the Government of Nigeria works with key stakeholders to address socio-cultural norms such as: preference for large families, religious tenets, and women’s lack of decision-making power related to sexual and reproductive health. On course to devolve the financing of its national family planning program to state level, improve availability of and access to services and commodities, and slow the rate of its population growth, Nigeria is on the path to a healthier future for women and families. The focus is on dispelling myths and misconceptions about family planning, expanding the provision of FP services and supplies to the last mile, and enabling an environment in which women and girls make informed choices on their health.
By the end of 2030, Nigeria envisions a country where everyone including adolescents, young people, populations affected by crisis and other vulnerable populations are able to make informed choices, have equitable and affordable access to quality family planning and participate as equals in society’s development.
According to the statistical number of the current population released on Thursday the 9th of June, 2022 by the national population commission, it is stated that the current population in Nigeria is 216,001,467. Nigeria has been rated to be the most populous country in Africa and the 6th most populous country in the world with an estimate of 217 million says the United Nations. According to them, by the year 2050, of the ten most thickly settled countries within the world will be in Africa and majority of this population in Nigeria. Presently, Nigeria is at the verge of having a population explosion just as it was predicted. Not too long ago the nation was rated to be among the poorest countries. The Nigerian demographic crisis is as a result of the long-standing lack of attention to human capital development, like health and welfare, education and skills development and arising problems from predominant production of primary products over finished products, high rate of unemployment, dilapidated public infrastructure, and criminal activity that drives people out of the local community and these problems are becoming worst every day.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during a speech on Nigeria’s new National Population Policy, said that ‘‘when a high population is not properly managed, it leads to increased crime rates, unemployment, environmental pollution, excessive pressure on natural resources, insufficient food, inadequate housing, traffic congestion, poor human capital indices in so many spheres, insecurity and instability’’
Family planning is one of the vital ways to manage our population and is one in all one of the most cost-effective ways that can reduce the following; accidental pregnancies, dangerous birth, maternal and child mortality, and also accelerated our socio-economic development and also environmental protection. The coordinator of the Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI-PAS), Shina Ogunbiyi speaking at an event said “family planning has been identified as a major solution to Nigeria’s growing population”.
It is important for population policy to effectively describe effective birth control mechanisms as a core component of population management policy. This will make arrangements for the practice of effective family planning together with the funding arrangements that will guarantee access to such programs by girls and women of childbearing age. This will help to reduce the natality rate in the country and also help ensure proper intervals between pregnancies. The proportion of sexual practice among young individuals and youths is considerably very high therefore, they should be educated on the importance of contraceptives use and also, the risks and dangers associated with having unprotected sexual intercourse.
In addition, it is important to deconstruct the social and gender norms hindering the agency, autonomy, and access to rights-based family planning of women and girls, as well as those impacting men, young people, and vulnerable populations. Also, there is a need for improved working relationships between the media and health sector as the media can help raise awareness and educate women and men on the importance of accessing FP. Educating men is critical because arguably, most men undermine the severity of maternal and child mortality, thus do not give the necessary support needed for the adoption of FP.
Similarly, civil society organisations should develop and execute culturally acceptable interventions to promote demand creation for FP services towards managing the nation’s population aimed at reducing the imbalance between socio-economic growth and population.
Nwachukwu writes from the Centre for Social Justices (CSJ), Abuja