MOST Nigerians have reacted with surprise that our estimated population is 198 million. Many people have been working with the 180 million figure until the Chairman of the National Population Commission, NPC, Mr. Eze Duruiheoma, announced the new figure while delivering Nigeria’s statement on Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration at the 51st session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, New York, USA.
Duruiheoma said our urban population jumped from 17.3 per cent in 1967 to 49.4 per cent in 2017, which means that virtually half of Nigeria’s population now live in the cities. With the prediction that 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas in 2050, the situation in Nigeria is likely to be more challenging as very little is being done to make life better for people living in rural localities.
A country, whose population skyrocketed from an estimated 142.6 million in 2006 according to the census of that year, to nearly 200 million, a 40 million increase within 12 years, has a lot to worry about. Nigeria is already identified as the country with the most rapidly-expanding population in the world such that by 2050, we could become the third most populous country in the world.
Our population will account for over 300 million out of the estimated global population of over nine billion.
Nigeria is breeding human beings with very little effort to cater for them. Our economy, which is just limping painfully out of the latest recession, is growing at less than one per cent. It performed far below the Federal Government’s 2.19 forecast for 2017.
It is farfetched from the seven per cent the economy is estimated to grow between 2017 and 2020 as contained in the Muhammadu Buhari Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.
Our population burden should seriously engage the focus of all who aspire to lead this country after the 2019 elections. We can no longer toy with the need to galvanise the huge economic potentials of this country and create enough prosperity to make future Nigeria a place fit for human habitation.
Already, the situation seems to be getting out of hand as violent crimes appear to be overwhelming the capacity of our security and armed forces to cope. We must sit up and proffer the right solutions to head off humanitarian disaster.
Nigerians must stop politicising population or bringing religious sentiments to hamper policies that could help in population control. Unless we control our population and work hard to rapidly grow the economy, the mass poverty we are incubating could be a major destabilising factor not only to our nation but also the world at large.