Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A university don in the Department of Agriculture, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Emmanuel Oladipo, has claimed that northern Nigeria is feeling the effects of lack of birth control.
Speaking at a panel discussion at a programme organised by a German organisation, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), on ‘Migration in West Africa: Challenges and Solutions’, he blamed the spate of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism on the menace of the Almajiri system in the north.
Professor Oladipo further ruled out the possibility of enacting legislation for birth control, arguing that politicians will frustrate such a bill because they exploit the population to win elections.
Expressing concern over population growth, he said that with seven million births registered every year in Nigeria, with mortality rate of three million and four million added to the population, Nigeria will become the third largest populated country in the world by 2050.
“Seven million children are registered in Nigeria every year, though the statistics is silent on the number that died, even as I don’t think they are up to three million every year,” the professor observed.
“What it means is that an average of four million are added to the population of this country every year. Since we cannot create up to 10,000 jobs, the big question is how do they survive?
“The implication is that we are going to continue crowding ourselves. Already, there are some areas in Lagos, human traffic don’t allow people to walk straight normally. People walk sideways because they are so many. Therefore, when the youths are migrating to big cities even when there are no jobs, they will certainly resort to crime and criminality.
“We are creating lots of polls of them and that is why people should embrace this cashless policy because it is only when they don’t get cash from people, even when they visit with POS, that it will reduce.
“We cannot sustain this continued increase in the population. Nigeria will be 400 million by 2050. If we continue to reproduce the way we are going, Nigeria will become the third largest country in the world after India and China.
“The rate of population growth in Nigeria is 3.2 percent every year. The population of poor people will continue to increase, but we don’t have any plan of how to create jobs for them, even if everybody returns to agriculture.
“The total land area of Nigeria is not up to that of Texas, yet the economy of Texas in terms of GDP is more than that of Nigeria. The whole population of America with 52 states is over 300 million and now Nigeria is close to 200 million.
“When you travel between Lagos and Ibadan, you can hardly see vacant lands because everywhere is occupied with houses,” he lamented.
Asked what is the way forward, he said. “It is for us to persuade Nigerians about the number of children to have. We won’t ask them not to have children but they must endeavour to have the number they can take care of. If we continue like this, we will have these roaming Almajiris everywhere,” the Professor warned.
On how to convince Northerners to embrace birth control, he thundered, “Are they not feeling the effect of it now? Were there kidnapping in Katsina before now? But their children are kidnapping them now.
“It is a case of the more you have, the more probability that the number of bad ones will increase. If we have 100 million and two percent are bad, it means that 200,000 are bad. You can imagine the havoc these numbers can cause in the society,” he said.
Asked if he will advice government to adopt birth control as it is done in India, he said: “That cannot be possible because of the religious peculiarities in the country. In Redeemed Church, where I worship, our GO, Pastor Adeboye, will proudly announce the number of children delivered in the camp during convention.
“Whether Christians or Moslems in Nigeria, fruitfulness is a major thing we all agreed to and should anybody sponsor any bill on it, no president will sign it because the politicians need the population for election.
“What we can do is continue to convince people. The governors should mobilise their people through traditional institutions. They should tell them the implication, especially giving examples with what we are going through now. It is going to be difficult because how do you convince a 28-year-old young man already having four wives?” he asked rhetorically.