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Today is World Population Day, what does this mean to you?

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Nigerians crowd population. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO

The United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) in its 2019 State of the World Population Report stated that, ‘Nigeria has a population of 201 million with a population growth of 2.6 per cent between 2010 and 2019.’ Thus, Nigeria grew by about five million people from 2018 when UNFPA last reported. Following the current trajectory, Nigeria’s population is expected to reach 264 million in 2030 – crossing the 300 million thresholds around 2036.

These numbers are imposing but it’s not only numbers. It is people who will be expected to have the basic amenities so that they will be allowed to reach their potential in life.

Amenities like housing, jobs, basic education, health services, even food and water. Other resources as well as opportunities for the youth may be limited under the current circumstances. Limited resources combined with an increasing population put heavy pressure on the scant resources. A recent report from Brooking Institution shows that Nigeria has an estimated 87 million people living in extreme poverty and more people slipping into it by the day! There is a direct correlation between large populations and poverty, so it is highly unlikely or impossible that a population of 300 million will be any better than the current situation of 201 million people! Why? More people means more mouths to feed, more healthcare and education services to provide and more amenities are required. Absence of these basic amenities and services can engender conflict, crime, insecurity and negatively affect economic development and improvement of standards of living. This is the big picture level.

However, it brings a whole new set of hard questions when you look at this topic from the micro family perspective. Can one pay their children’s school fees without extreme struggle? Can they conveniently pay rent and bills for adequate housing space or do they have to squeeze themselves and their family into a limiting space? Can they afford to give their families quality and nutritious meals daily? Do they believe their children have the opportunity to reach their full potential? Can they provide healthcare to loved ones when needed; even if it is for trifling illnesses like malaria or headaches? Do they spend quality time together or are you always on the struggle or hustle or hassle?

Family planning can ameliorate these problems. Family planning, by definition is deciding the number and spacing of your children through the use of contraception. In other words, you (or the couple) decide when to have children. So, children by choice and not by chance. The benefits of family planning or child spacing are numerous to mother, father, children and the family. All contribute to improved standard of living.


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