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EDITORIAL

World Population Day

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The 11th of July is the day set aside by the United Nations (UN) as world population day. The World Population Day was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1989. It is said to be an outgrowth of the interest brought about by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July in the year 1987.

A report by the world body- The UN report, ‘World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision’-  has a projection that the world population would be at 9.8 billion mark with birth rates in African countries possibly at least doubling by 2050. The report also indicated that with an estimate of 83 million people added to the world’s population annually, “the upward trend in population size is expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline.” It pointed out that Nigeria’s population was growing rapidly.

And with such development, the country’s population would surpass that of the United States before the year 2050, placing Nigeria as the third most populated country in the world. It further stated that with this rate the world population is anticipated to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and surpass 11.2 billion in 2100. It also pointed out that world population growth averaged 23.63 percent from 2014 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 38 percent in the second quarter of 2018 and a record low of 11.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. In this light it is vital for Nigeria to prepare for the next 20 to 30 years ahead in order to avoid a population explosion that the country may not be able to cater for.

And while the world population day is more concerned about the aspects of human rights and reproductive health, Nigeria should equally focus on how to improve data gathering in order to accommodate the population explosion that could lead to chaos if not adequately prepared for. Therefore, this newspaper is of the opinion that Nigeria needs to prioritise its own peculiar issues, looking at aspects that will support the country in dealing with its population situation.

From this perspective, the federal government should endeavour to observe ways in which it can conform to UN’s goal of making available for all, reproductive health and rights to drive sustainable development. According to the latest UN records, the population of Nigeria as at Monday, July 8, 2019, is estimated at 200,993,975, making it the 7th largest in the world and the most populous country in Africa. In terms of population density, Nigeria is at 221 per Km2 (571 people per mi2) and the urban population at 51.9 percent (104,282,822) in 2019. We recall that in 2012, a research carried out by the Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the country’s total population at an estimated166.2 million people.

In 2016, the country was said to have more than 178.5 million people; however, the United Nations projections indicate that Nigeria’s population is actually 186 million. At Independence in 1960, the country was reported to have recorded about 45.2 million people. This shows a change of about 268 percent between the year 1960 and the year 2012. Presently, Nigeria’s population this year 2019 is at about 2.6 percent of the whole world population. World Population Day 2019, calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

Twenty five years have gone since that landmark conference, where 179 governments recognised that reproductive health and gender equality are essential for achieving sustainable development. In November, UNFPA, together with the governments of Kenya and Denmark, will be convening a high-level conference in Nairobi to accelerate efforts to achieve these goals that have not yet been met. On World Population Day, advocates from around the globe call on leaders, policymakers, grassroots organisers, institutions and others to assist in making reproductive health and other population issues a reality for all. Nigeria should focus on establishing amenities and developing infrastructure that will better accommodate its rapidly increasing population. Failure to do so would lead to a population explosion that the country is not prepared for.

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