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The looming demographic time-bomb

By Chris Okotie

There are certain demographics that give a clear indication of a country’s development profile and some insights into its economic future. Literacy rate, access to health and potable water, state of infrastructure, housing, functional public utilities, transparency in governance and efficient service delivery by government agencies etc.

In all of these, according to records of the world’s Human Development Index, our country is lagging far behind its peer nations. This ought to worry our governing elites, but their present focus is on the politics of 2015 election which is two years away. Instead of thinking about the country’s future, our elected politicians are more concerned with the security of their tenures.

Now, let’s put things in proper perspective to see how we could cope with the challenges of a growing population in a fast changing world. Nigeria is expected to be the world’s fifth most populous nation in the world by the year 2030, with a projected population of 257,815,000  million, up from our current figure of 158,423,000million. This represents an increase of 62.7 percent, if the current trends continue, according to the United Nation?s Population Fund, UNPF.

This would put us behind India (1,523,482,000) which is expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation;  China (1, 393,076,00 billion), United States( 361,680, million) and Indonesia( 276,659,000million) in that order.

Of course, these figures are subject to change because of natural disasters, wars, epidemics and other unforeseen interventions.  Nevertheless, we could be sitting on a demographic time-bomb if our economic managers do not plan ahead. It must be realised that the four countries ahead of Nigeria in the projected rankings notably, India, China, USA, and Indonesia already have sound economic base, with stable and progressive polity.

We are still grappling with the politics of succession, infrastructural deficit, mass illiteracy, a largely unskilled workforce, corrupt leadership, unstable power supply and other factors of  underdevelopment, including unfortunately, terrorism and organised crime. Worse, our leaders have this predilection for world power illusions, often coming up with ill conceived ideas of great power profiles based on dubious projections of development goals that are always never attained.

We have had major development plans that projected our country to be among the top 20 industrialised nations by 2010, 2020 and now 2030.

But these projections often do not have any realistic blueprints to back them up, or if there is; fidelity with implementation often scuttled the visions.

*Chris Okotie
*Chris Okotie

Only recently, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, admitted that our Vision 20:2020 plan is no longer realizable. Saudi Arabia, a major oil exporter looks more likely to be among the 20 leading industrialized nations by 2020, not Nigeria. According to the United States National Intelligence Council, NIC, based on certain postulates, Nigeria would join China and a few countries that would be the driving force behind shaping the world’s economy by 2030. At about  that time, China, currently the world’s second largest economy would have overtaken the USA as the world’s No.1 industrial power.

The NIC added: “In addition to China, India, and Brazil, regional players such as Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and Turkey will become especially important to the global economy. The diffusion of power among countries will have a dramatic impact by 2030. Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment.”

All the rosy projections on Nigeria’s great power visions will go up in smoke unless the government makes a decisive move to give education it’s deserved priority in programme development. For instance, according to the 2012 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, about 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of The government should increase funding for research, improve the welfare of the academic staff and re-design university curricula. This would enable the products of our institutions of higher learning to square up to the technological challenges facing Nigeria in all areas of development, so that we could stop importing tooth picks, biros and such elementary products from Asia.

*Okotie, a pastor-politician, lives in Lagos. Follow at


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