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Dissecting causes, consequences of Nigeria’s population growth

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PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO


In June 2013, a new United Nations, UN, World Population Prospects report unveiled at the UN Headquarters in New York, revealed that Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of the U.S. before the middle of the century. The report said that by the end of the century, Nigeria could start to rival China as the second most populous country in the world. The report titled, “World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision’’ recorded the total population of Nigeria to be 173,615 with the figure of male 88,362 while the female was recorded as 85,254. It, however, stated that sex ratio of male per 100 female was 104 per cent.

Also in April 2014, a World Bank report showed that Nigeria and four other countries are home to nearly 760 million of the world’s poor. It said that Nigeria was third among countries with the highest population of extreme poor or people with abject poverty in the world. The report on the world’s poverty index, titled ‘Prosperity for All–Ending Extreme Poverty’, the World Bank listed the top five countries, in terms of numbers of poor, as India (with 33 per cent of the world’s poor) China (13 per cent) Nigeria (7 per cent) Bangladesh (6 per cent) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (5 per cent).At that time, The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the population of Nigerians in poverty at about 112 million, representing about 67 per cent of the country’s 167 million population.

Recently, to the surprise of many Nigerians, the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) Eze Duruiheoma, said Nigeria’s population consists of approximately 198 million people.He disclosed this when delivering Nigeria’s statement on sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration at the 51st session of Commission on Population and Development in New York.He disclosed that urban population within the country has been growing at an average yearly rate of about 6.5 per cent for over 50 years.

“Nigeria remains the most populous in Africa, the seventh globally with an estimated population of over 198 million.“The recent World Population Prospects predicts that by 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the world.“Over the last 50 years, Nigeria’s urban population has grown at an average annual growth rate of more than 6.5 per cent without a commensurate increase in social amenities and infrastructure.

“The Displacement Tracking Matrix round XXI of January 2018 identified estimated 1.7 million IDPs in over 321,580 households across six states of North-East Nigeria with 40 per cent residing in camp-like settings in urban areas plus 1.4 million returnees.“The number of IDPs represented 4.5 per cent increase compared to the 1,702,680 identified in Round XX (Dec. 2017.

“In addition, the 2014 World Urbanisation Prospects report, predicts that by 2050, most of the population-70 per cent–will be residing in cities.“The 2010 human mobility survey report revealed that 23 per cent of the sampled population were of more females than males,” the Chairman said.He added that the population grew substantially from 17.3 per cent in 1967 to 49. 4 percent in 2017.He also said young people of teen age and adolescent girls and boys, women of childbearing age and the people of working age were mostly involved in urbanisation and migration among the population.

Ordinarily, the rapid growth of Nigeria population should be a plus to the country, but it seems not due to several factors-growing unemployment, poverty, lack of basic amenities, poor economy and others. These factors have become a source of worry to many Nigerians, especially for the fact the development has not discouraged reproduction among Nigerians.So the questions are, what are the likely effects and consequences of rapid increase in population of Nigerians without corresponding economic and technological development and growth? What are the causes of overpopulation and what are government’s concrete plans towards curbing population growth?

‘Religious Belief Responsible For Population Growth’
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos

Speaking to The Guardian on rapid growth in Nigeria’s population, a parent in Angwan Rukuba, in Jos North Local Council, Mr. Bitrus Tanko, said: “What is responsible for rapid population growth in Nigeria includes religious belief. There are some religions that do not restrict birth control through family planning and child-spacing. Muslims believe that they can marry up to four wives and give birth to the maximum of 14 children per wife and, at the end of the day, you can have about 100 people living under one roof.Tanko added that because some parents are poor, they don’t have adequate resources to train the number of children they procreate.

“They feel they are not obliged to train them. If they don’t have to train them, they would not have given birth to so many children knowing fully well that they do not have enough resources to cater for them.”He also said the reproductive system now is more functional than what obtained in the past. “The fertility rate is higher because of the type of foods people eat. Many foods are nutritious and balanced. They also aid fertility. In the past, people depended on carbohydrate, but nowadays, they eat balanced diet such as protein, vitamins, carbohydrate, vegetables, among others.”Tanko also mentioned cultural influence as another factor that aid rapid population growth.

According to him, “it is believed that once a girl or boy grows up at a certain age, ranging between 18 and 20 years, they will marry. Marriage has become fashionable. Nigerians must marry and produce children. Marriage has become a system that must be embedded and incorporated. And this encourages population growth.”On how to curtail the growth, he said: “National Population Commission (NPC) should be properly funded so that it could keep accurate data and conduct census to help government to plan as well as to keep proper record of death and birth control. There should be massive enlightenment and sensitisation by the government agencies such as National Orientation Agency (NOA), Community-Based Organisation (CBO) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to stress the need for birth control, so that people do not give birth to children they cannot cater for.

According to Tanko, the Nigeria Immigration Service should carry out its constitutional responsibility of checking illegal immigrants into the country. “Many of the people we see in Nigeria are from Chad, Niger, Benin Republic and Cameroun. They come here to swell the population. They are not Nigerians but they will register and flaunt Nigeria’s National Identification Cards. Some are in possession of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs). This is very unfortunate. Nigeria has become a dumping ground for illegal immigrants, no wonder population rises abnormally.”

Also the Nigerian Navy, the Police, Civil Defence Corps, the Directorate of State Service (DSS), the Nigerian Air Force, Customs, all do not help matters in curtailing influx of foreigners into Nigeria.A Muslim clergyman, Sheikh Nuhu Abubakar, said rapid population growth is a blessing to the good people of Nigeria.”“It is our belief that as many people God brings into this world, He can provide for their needs, even if their parents are helpless and cannot provide for them.“God says in the scriptures that that we should multiply and enjoy the vegetation which He has given us as food.“ As Muslims, we can marry as many as four wives and we are allowed by our faith to provide and take good care of our wives.”

It Should Be The Country’s Strength
If Properly Managed’
From Tina Todo, Calabar
Religious leaders and par
ents have agreed that increase in population in Nigeria should not be perceived as weakness, but rather its positive strength, if properly managed.
Some people are of the opinion that population increase might lead to tribal war, as people would be struggling for limited facilities available.Describing it as population explosion, an educationist, Mr. Timothy Esu, said increase in population should not be seen as a weakness to the nation, rather it should be perceived as strength, if properly harnessed.    

In his words: “In Nigeria, the problem with population growth is lack of proper planning. Nigeria should be planning ahead of population increase.”On the causes of population increase, Esu said: “We are all aware that many people are jobless, not because they do not want work, but because they are looking for lucrative jobs. Therefore, some unemployed persons form the habit of frolicking with women and in the process pregnancy occurs. That is the reason some children are born out of wedlock and from broken homes.

“Another cause of population explosion is moral decadence. We have seen young girls of 14, 15 or less getting pregnant. These are some of the reasons Nigeria has population explosion and the government should plan for such as well.”He put lack of public enlightenment on the doorstep of the government orientation agencies and health experts, saying: “Public education is what is lacking and in spite of the fact that we have the National Orientation Agency, there is no public enlightenment. The establishment only exists in name. It is not helpful. These are some of the things it should do.“In the health sector also, we have health education experts. They are also handicapped, because they are not properly funded. Public enlightenment is necessary and it should begin in earnest.

“Traditional institutions should not be left out; the same with religious organisations. Both should make it a duty to enlighten their followers. Medical and paramedical personnel should speak out on the health implication of having too many children. They should also teach people how to practice healthy living and family planning.“Public enlightenment should also be taken to educational institutions. It is high time we begin talk to children about sex. They have to know because they will eventually use the organs for wrong purposes. So, it hinges primarily on enlightenment,” he said.           

On his part, the Bishop of Anglican Communion, Calabar Diocese, Bishop Tunde Adeleye, said: “Increase in population is not a very convenient thing for the country. There are no jobs and the government is not creating any. There is no food, there is no house to live in, so if population is increasing under these conditions, it poses a lot of danger for the country and it may lead to over population and food scarcity.“It may also lead to tribal wars where people would struggle for limited available facilities such as land. Brothers will kill themselves. There will be scarcity of basic amenities and there will be tension and pressure.”

On ways of resolving increase in population in Nigeria, he said: “There was a time Nigerians were told to limit the number of children to four. I wonder if that is still applicable because of religious beliefs or traditions. Some people marry more than one wife and produce more children.The questions are: “Is it the men that should have four children or is it the women? If a man has four wives, then he has 16 children compared to another man, who has only one wife and four children. It was considered unfair to do that and we came out to do nothing.“There is no need having many children under this condition. There is no need to have children you cannot send to school and cannot even feed properly,” he said.

‘Many Families Have Refused To Embrace
Family Planning’
From Uzoma Nzeagwu, Awka.

A laboratory technologist, Mr. Reginald Okpala, attributed the rapid population growth in Nigeria to rejection of contraceptives for family planning by many families.“Majority of Nigeria people believe that God creates man and woman to marry, increase and multiply. Many see the use of condom and other family planning methods as taboo, thereby continue to reproduce babies at will

“Secondly, many families are ignorant. They believe in producing children to inherit and continue with the family lineage. As such, a husband and his wife continue to produce children, and not controlling the size of the family to between two to three children. An average man will argue that society will blame him if he has fewer children.“There is also sexual promiscuity on the part of adults, youths and teenagers. Some youths have thrown caution to the winds. They get involved in sexual activities with reckless abandon. This could be linked to the massive poverty in the country, coupled with hardship and high cost of living.

“Nowadays, ladies are ready to yield to sex provided the man is willing to pay her bill, not minding if she is safe or not. This could result in unwanted pregnancy.“There is also the factor of early marriage, where parents give out their daughter(s) between ages 15 and 20 years for marriage to meet up with economic demands. By the age of 30 or 35, some ladies would have delivered five to six kids,’ he said.In his remark, an elderly family head in Awka, Ozor Nwaezechi Nzoba, said the growth was due to improved medical services and adequate treatment in various hospitals and clinics.

“The availability of good medicare and hospital facilities among others has helped to reduce cases of infant mortality compared to pre-1980. The occurrence of stillbirth has equally reduced and today children from age zero to five years are given the needed medical attention such as immunisation against measles, polio, chicken pox, cholera among others.“This has helped to increase the population. There are also ante and post-natal services for women, compared to pre-colonial period, when most deaths were linked to witchcraft, superstitions and others. Life expectancy in Nigeria has equally improved due to improved lifestyle. There is abundant nutritious food, exotic wines and food supplements-all have contributed to longevity,” Nzoba said.

We Do Not Subscribe To Use Of Drugs Or Any Artificial Form Of Sex On Demand, Say Catholic Church
By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia

ACCORDING to Director of Communication, Archdiocese of Lagos, Very Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, “With population explosion, what about the number of people who will die, are they also considered? If our life’s span is within 45 to 50, then where is the explosion coming from.“The Catholic Church believes in natural family planning method. We do not propagate or preach; we say do not bring into the world children you cannot take care of and cope with. We do not encourage abortion and premarital sex. Sex should be within marriage, which is based on love, procreation and to a large extent you are increasing your family. All these artificial forms of family planning knowingly and willfully obstruct the aim of marriage.” He said the natural family planning method has been there from the time immemorial.

“Every woman has a cycle and should know when she is on her fertile period. This should help her determine when she should have sex and when not to. We do not subscribe to the use of drugs or any artificial form of sex on demand. There should be self-control. The general message for us is: you do not give birth to more than you can take care of. You can’t just have a football team, when you cannot fend for them.“However, in Africa we love children; in the past. People had a lot of children so they could help in the farms, but today, our people don’t farm. Today, proper education, counselling, natural family planning methods before marriage take care of these. That is why our marriage classes last for six months but then we still have a lot of people who still default, what will the church do?”

Osu added that teachings are done every day in our homilies.“In fact, the rich people do not have many children, but the poor people have more, hence the saying, ‘sex is the food of the poor’; they live in a room and no recreation. What else will the man and woman do other than producing children, while the rich man has large rooms, a garden and other things to engage him, so sex is never always the alternative. We believe that continuous education on the church’s teachings will help. The style of houses the government should build for the poor also do not encourage proper co-habitation.

Speaking on the issue, John Chukwuma of Family and Health Human Life Unit (FHLU) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos said: “Essentially, fertility is not a disease, so why should a woman take pills for it. I boldly say that contraception is the only drug a healthy woman take and become sick. Every woman on earth is 30 per cent fertile and 70 per cent infertile, so for the better part of a woman’s life, she is infertile, so why shouldn’t she focus on understanding the 30 per cent window of fertile to guide her ability to have children or not.

“It is nonsensical for a woman to use condom, let alone pills within the window of her infertility. She will only be hurting herself. About 75 per cent of cancer cases are from the use of contraceptive pills. I assure women that 98.9 per cent of the time, after your first menstrual cycle, you can detect your fertility period just through your mucus discharge.”For the alarming population statistics Chukwuma said: “We are all aware that our database habit is very poor, however, if you go to Agbara and beyond Lekki, you don’t find people, during festival periods especially as the Salah approached. Lagos became empty, same with the Christmas celebrations.

“What about the data of deaths in the country, who is talking about them, if people do not have children, who will be there to replace them? There must be a balance in life, else our population will depreciate.”But Bunmi Osho, a mother of one, said she strongly believed in the use of family planning.“I will use family planning method. I believe it is important for the wellbeing of the mother and for financial reasons too. I only have one child and after the next, I will visit the family planning unit. I want two children in all and maximum three.”

To Martha Opara, a 29-year-old mother of three, family planning is not an option, as she sees it as a form of changing her womanhood.“I heard about it at health centre and I have been told to come for classes, which hold on Fridays in my neighbourhood. I am not convinced about it. I don’t want anything to alter my flow as a woman. Children are gifts from God, I don’t want to change God’s plan in my life. He gave me children and will help us take care of them.”Precious Bamidele has four children. She intends to have her fifth child. For her, “My husband and I wanted five children and we are almost there. So afterwards, I may consider using family planning, because we don’t want more, considering the economic situation of the country.“However, age is not really on my side, so I don’t think I have many chances of getting pregnant again.”

Early Marriage, Promiscuity Among Youths Responsible For Population Explosion
By Henry Ekemezie

Recent investigations reveal that an increasing number of women are drawn into single parenthood, as men tend to abandon their traditional role as providers for their children.An array of factors, including irresponsible fathers, peer pressure and struggle to cope with modernisation, are blamed for the trend in which young Nigerian girls become pregnant as soon as they reach puberty.It was later discovered that this trend could have a deep impact on society because a significant number of children brought up in single parent families have lower life prospects than their peers brought up in two-parent families.Ms. Ann Chukwunwike, a single mother, said: “Some men will tell you they must have a baby with you before getting married. And once its done, they flee.”

However, there are women who set out to have a baby with the intention of raising such baby alone. Others are having babies in the hope that the men who are responsible would agree to marriage.Dr. Tejiri Sakpaide, a medical doctor at the Gloryland Hospital, said there are no easy answers although he blamed irresponsible men, who desert the woman when told she is expecting their child.“Women are caught in the web of pre-marital pregnancy, especially due to irresponsible men who vanish and fail to commit,” he said.

“But there is also the category of men, who actually get married, but they then somehow pack up and leave after childbirth.”Ms. Vivian Ibazebo, said men deliberately impregnate women they have no intention to marry and women are dragged into having unwanted pregnancies due to societal pressure.“Some claimed it was out of peer influence when all their age mates had children and people started accusing them of being barren. So, they devise a means of tricking a man, just to get pregnant so to prove they are fertile,” she said.Toyosi emphasised that some of the causes of premarital births include, limited access to contraception for young and unmarried women as well as high unemployment rates.She added:“The high bride price makes marriage economically unattainable for young men, even if they intend to marry their pregnant partners.“Women often report about their husbands leaving them simply because they had formed new relationship with other women and started new families.”

To Achieve Demographic Dividends, Our Population Structure Has To Change, Says Duduyemi
By Tobi Awodipe

THE Programme Officer (Service Delivery) with the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative 2 (NURHI 2), Dr. Adeola Duduyemi has said that for Nigeria to achieve its demographic dividends, the present population structure has to change. “Our dependent population is more than our independent population, standing at 100:80.For the country to sustain its present population, we need to get the structure down to at least 100 independents to 60 dependents, if not, we are going to have serious problems if we continue at this present rate, in the nearest future as the burden is on the few that are independent, therefore, creating social and economic problems. The fertility rate for the average Nigerian woman is at present five children; we have to reduce this number to three, at least. The present resources in the country cannot sustain the population at the rate it is expanding.”

Speaking further, Duduyemi told The Guardian, “Research has shown that family planning is key in managing the population explosion. Apart from family planning, education, enlightenment and easy access to quality healthcare are very important if we are to tackle this head on. Family planning is relevant to any individual who is sexually active and the quicker we get this message out, the better for us.” She added that contrary to belief in some quarters that God and our different cultures support having plenty children, she said both the Bible and Quran are in support of family planning.

Decrying that even with education and campaigns, many people still believe that engaging in family planning causes infertility.“They believe that once you get it (family planning), you can’t have a child anymore, which is not only false but also an unfounded lie. Many people have used family planning and still have children after discontinuation unless they went for the permanent methods or have other underlying medical problems that resulted in their infertility. Some also believe it is a means of reducing Nigeria’s population, while others say it causes cancer.

“There is no research to show that family planning causes cancer. There is no known research that shows that family planning causes cancer rather, research has shown that some contraceptive methods can reduce a woman’s chance of getting some cancers. Some people also say the intrauterine device (IUD) can migrate from your uterus and get to your heart. We hear so many stories, but there is no proof to back up these stories. Another common one is that family planning causes promiscuity. An individual, who wants to be promiscuous, will be regardless of family planning or not. As for the tales of a plot to reduce Nigeria’s population, we have to stem the population growth immediately for our collective good.”

Admitting that accessing good reproductive health care is still a bit of a challenge due to several factors including limited qualified health facilities and professionals, cultural and religious biases, fear of being judged or stigamtised, Duduyemi said they were working hard to combat these challenges.“If everyone has just the number of children they have planned for and are able to care for, we would gradually put an end to the cycle of poverty in Nigeria. At present, our resources are over-stretched as a nation and if everyone resolves to proper planning and everyone has the number of children they can cater for, hunger will become a thing of the past.

Nigeria’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) and Maternal Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (MCPR) is alarmingly poor and more than ever, we need to educate everyone that managing our population is not only of the utmost importance, it is everybody’s business not just women alone.”According to Dr. Anne Sigbeku, a programme specialist with NURHI, family planning indices show adoption rate is still low in Nigeria. 15 percent of married women of reproductive age (15‒49) are not using any contraceptive method; and of these, just 10 percent of these women are using modern contraceptive methods. Reiterating on the importance of healthcare providers in this regard, she said they must not be biased against anyone, including teenagers, because if you don’t give that teen a contraceptive, she may fall pregnant, leading to further complications.“When service providers bring in their religious background to the workplace, this usually influences whether or not they provide services as well as the type of methods offered the client. This should not be so.”

Idleness, Ignorance Engender Population Growth
By Maria Diamond

Also speaking on the issue, Ms. Omotayo Adetoun, a nurse, said the high rate of child bearing among Nigerian women is as a result of a number of factors.She said many women are afraid of the implications of family planning.“Some complain that its makes them add much weight, hence, the need to discontinue. Others say it could cause damage to the womb, making it impossible to conceive in the future, should they decide they want another child.“Another excuse is excessive bleeding, painful and irregular menstrual cycle, which I think is laxity on the part of gynaecologists as they are expected to be thorough with their patients,” she said.

Adetola further said gynaecologists should pay adequate attention to their patients by asking detailed questions as to what they really want and for how long. There should be thorough body and hormonal check and test to find out which method suits each person.“Some people want temporary birth control methods, and they get otherwise for lack of detailed information.Also, some women have other medical issues that should be treated before being placed on family planning,” she said.

In her remark, Mrs. Teni Arowolo, a mother of two and Private School teacher in Ayobo, said that a lot of parents within the vicinity had withdrawn their kids from school because they could no longer afford their school fees.She said: “ Many women within the locality have more than five children and they are idle. They stay at home the whole day gossiping with birds of the same feathers.“They have all these kids with no responsibility whatsoever towards their upbringing and the children roam the streets.“They basically depend on their husbands to take all responsibilities, but these men’s income can barely sustain one child’s responsibility, let a lone five or more, hence the reason the kids are not in school,” she said.

Nnenna Ochugo, a house wife and mother of six, said, it was her husband’s idea that they have as much children because the more kids they have, the bigger the family, and when we grow old, we’d have enough hands to take care of us.“My husband sells phone accessories and caters for the family financially, while I take care of the children at home.“There is no way I can go out to work leaving these young ones alone, so we agreed I stay home,” she said.

Ifakachukwu Chukwuyerem, a father of two said, women are mostly responsible for having too many children, as he expects them to use their initiative and discretion to curtail child-bearing, because they are always at the receiving end of everything that goes wrong with the process.

“My wife is a brave woman. She would never agree to unprotected sex no matter the pressure. So, I equally monitor her cycle since my religious believe is strictly against family planning of any kind.“So, it’s either I use a condom or we wait for her safe period. That woman would leave the house for you if you pressure her unnecessarily.“My wife would give you a download of everything she has to go through, should she conceive an unwanted pregnancy.“She would then tell you how miserable your life as a man would become with another child, and before you know it, you’re already discouraged from the attempt,” he said.


In this article:
Eze Duruiheoma
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