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Experts call for new policy to address dangers of growing population

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Legal experts and other professionals have called on the federal government to have a deliberate policy shift and human capital development to cushion the effect of the country’s rapid ly growing population.

Speaking during the ÆLEX 14th annual lecture, Mohamed Yahya, Resident Representative to Nigeria for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and one of the panelists at the lecture said Nigeria needs to innovate, build strong human capital base and be deliberate about making structural policy shift to mitigate effects of the country’s fast growing population.

Yahya who noted that the topic of the lecture, ‘Illiteracy, Migration and Insecurity: Nigeria’s Population Time Bomb,’ is timely, stressed that the country is expected to be the 7th most populated in the world by 2050 and 3rd most populated thereafter.

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He said those realities imply that if the country continues to grow at the same level without any form of control, then there would be scarce resources and this could escalate the existing insecurity.

He acknowledged that China has taken advantage of its high population and introduced better utilisation of international trade and land reforms, which has led to poverty reduction and development.

Yahya further explained that if population growth is efficiently managed, it could be an advantage to the country by way of division of labour and increased productivity.

He however stated that on the flip side, if population growth is not properly managed, it could lead to increase in poverty level, more economic stress, high level of unemployment, weak health care systems, high mortality rate, weak human capital development and crime and conflict.

Nyma Akashat Zibiri, a Nigerian lawyer and television host said Nigeria has the highest population of youths in the world, which should be an advantage but sadly the government has failed to manage the population.

Zibiri explained that the level of insecurity in Nigeria has kept pushing urban migration, adding that lack of job opportunities have led to the trafficking of large numbers of girls.

She however suggested that there should be family planning and deliberate policy implementation geared towards population control in Nigeria. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, recalled that recently about 80 Africans drowned while trying to cross over to Europe, adding that most of the people who are trafficked out of the country are girls.

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Dabiri-Erewa said Nigeria brought back thousands of its citizens from Libya two years ago and several others are still being brought back, adding that many of those migrating either legally or illegally are highly educated.

She suggested the need for more awareness to stop people from migrating illegally, adding that the government needs to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive to encourage people to remain in Nigeria.

“We cannot stop legal or illegal migration but we can manage it. We are working with the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Affairs to manage migration. Nigerians are excelling everywhere in the world but are not excelling in Nigeria.

“Government therefore needs to provide human capital development, build infrastructures and create more awareness to mitigate the effect of growing population and reduce the amount of illegal migrations,” she said.

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