By The Society For Media Advocacy On Health, Nigeria.
With Nigeria’s position as the fourth most fertile African country at a yearly population growth of six million, her burden of overpopulation amid its plummeting economy is a growing concern to many experts.
The country’s population is projected to grow by an average of 500,000 monthly and a further six million increase yearly, the 2020 World Population Data Sheet’ by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) revealed.
Unarguably, Nigeria’s index position according to the PRB data coupled with its teeming population estimated at 500,000 monthly for the next 15 years portends huge socio-economic implications.
The country escalating population put at 206.1 million is targeted to reach almost 300 million in 15 years’ time
Sadly, her rising population along with its fertility and the birth rate is also two times higher than its death rate.
By mid-2035, Nigerian population would reach 295.0 million and surpass 401.3 million in 2050, as the country is among seven African countries leading with worrisome fertility rates.
Also, Nigeria is the fourth among the most fertile countries exceeding both the continent’s and global average Total Fertility Rate (TFR) which is 4.4 and 2.3 respectively, the PRB data further showed.
Unfortunately, not every Nigerian woman of reproductive age who needs modern family planning has access to it.
Among four African countries, Nigeria is fourth after Benin Republic with a fertility rate of 5.7, Mali – 6.3 and Niger – 7.1.
Recent analysis further shows that the accelerating trend in Nigeria’s population is alarming compared to a country like the Gambia.
The total population of Gambia is 2.4 million which population is estimated at 3.5 million by 2035, and within the same period populace, a figure put at about six million within the same period.
Also, Nigeria’s fertility rate is worse than that of Ethiopia with a current population of 114. 9 million and a fertility rate of 4.3, while Nigeria is 5.3.
Ethiopia is estimated to have 46 million people in 15 years’ time, while Nigeria would be adding 90 million persons. It means that Ethiopia would be adding three million yearly, as against Nigeria’s six million additions within the same period.
Regrettably, the PRB report shows that only 17 percent of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 are using all methods of family planning in the country.
Similarly, only 12 percent of Nigerian women in the same age bracket of reproduction are using modern methods of family planning, while mere 34 percent who demands modern contraception are satisfied.
Ironically, Nigeria’s births per 1000 population is 37, while its deaths per 1000 population is 12, while only 34 percent of women gain satisfaction in their needs for modern methods.
The percentage rate of natural increase of Nigeria’s population is 2.6 percent, while the country has an infant mortality rate of 67 percent and total fertility rate of 5.3 percent.
It is not news that family planning protects the health of women and children as well as reduces ugly risky overpopulation burdens by helping a family to plan and responsibly fulfill its parental roles.
The roles of family planning in population control in view of Nigeria’s frightening populace, fertility rates and deepening recession cannot be underestimated.
Nigeria is considered the populous country in Africa, yet it is only the fourth largest African nation in arable land area.
According to the new UNFPA report, Nigeria’s population grew at an annual average growth rate of 2.6 per cent in the last 10 years.
Between 1969 and 2019, Nigeria’s population grew by 267.4 percent. In 1969, Nigeria’s population was estimated at 54.7 million people, while it increased to 201million in 2019.
To put this in perspective, in 1911, Nigeria’s population was 16 million. It grew to 114 million by the year 2000 and to an estimated 174 million in 2014.
Based on the 2014 trend, it was estimated that the population would nearly double in 20 years. The 2020 PRB report puts Nigeria’s population at 206.1 million
Today, the truth is glaring to everyone. Keen analysts say without urgent intervention through effective and strategic implementation of family planning models, the country, already in recession, is bound to spiral further downwards into more socio-economic decline.
Many cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna are already experiencing effects of the explosion in population; housing is overstretched, and a growing number of Nigerians are homeless.
The rate of population growth is outpacing huge attempts to increase employment opportunities in Nigeria, leading to a considerable waste of the talents of young people.
By reducing the birth rate and slowing population growth, family planning would improve the health of Nigerians, especially children and mothers, as well as provide significant socio-economic benefits. The time is now!