Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The rapid population growth of Nigeria as a result of failure to embrace family planning methods to reduce the growth rate is a time bomb that may plunge the country into more serious socio-economic and political crises than those being experienced at present.
The warning was given by a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Emmanuel Otolorin, at the First Annual Prof Babatunde Osotimehin National Reproductive Health Legacy Forum, with the theme: “Meeting Family Planning 2020 Goal: Whither Nigeria,” organised by the Academy for Health Development (AHEAD) in collaboration with the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale ([email protected]), held at Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
Osotimehin, who was born on February 6, 1949, was Nigeria’s former Minister of Health and was serving as the Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and an under-secretary of the United Nations, when he died on June 4, 2017.
Otolorin, who is a Senior Regional Programmatic and Technical Advisor for Unitaid-funded Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Optimal Pregnancy (TIPTOP) Project in Nigeria, Mozambique, Madagascar and Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the unabated population growth in Nigeria has been linked with the growing numbers of frustrated youths, and a certain number of them have become a cog in the wheel of progress of the nation.
According to him, the biggest challenge confronting the country was insecurity created by the frustrated youths turned- terrorists, kidnappers and cattle rustlers, saying: “Many were abandoned by their parents to fend for themselves on the streets from where they have been recruited to cause mayhem in the country.
“While the governments at all levels are striving to curb this spate of criminality, our rapid population continues to produce more and more frustrated youths who feel the country does not care about them. Those of us, who have been warning for years about this danger, are now vindicated by the current happenings in the country.”
Nigeria, he said, must implement policies that will slow down its rapid population growth rate “if we expect an improvement in life expectancy and in the quality of its citizens. Any further delay will worsen the challenges the country faces today and the future of its younger generations will not be assured.
“Let’s examine the number of doctors that would be required just to maintain the current levels of health care services. The number of doctors required in 2017 was 72,000. Assuming that the average population per doctor ratio remains constant at about 2,650 persons per doctor, with high population growth continued, the required number of doctors would be more than double to 165,000 by 2050.
“It is a well-known fact that poorly managed rapid population growth has adverse consequences on the socio-economic development of countries. In general, countries with high fertility rate are consistently faced with by unmet demands in every sector of life.
“For example, over the last three decades, Nigeria has become import-dependent for food supply. In the 2018/2019 agricultural season, Nigeria was the third highest rice importing country in the entire world next to China (4.5 million metric tons) and the Philippines (2.3 million metric tons).
“Currently, Nigeria produces only about 2.7 metric tons of rice while consumption is approximately 5.2 million metric tons. By 2050, if the rapid population growth continues, it is estimated that the country’s rice consumption will rise to 11.8 million metric tons while production will be about 3.3 million metric tons.”
The gap between production and consumption, which is 8.5 million metric tons, according to him, would likely be met by legal or illegal importation that would finally drain the country’s scarce foreign exchange.