I wrote this in December 2016 and it was first published by Sustyvibes.
By Kehinde Disu
During the period when Lord Lugard was calling the shots, 1911 to be precise, the total estimated population in Nigeria was estimated to be about 16 million. Fast forward to more than 45 years; 1960 to be precise, the era of independence, our total population stood at 45.2 million. In other words, this means there was a growth of more than 29 million in less than 50 years. According to worldometers, which uses RTS algorithm that processes data collected from United Nations Population Division (UNPD), the national population at 4.00pm, October 30 , 2016, stood at 188,519,179. This shows that between a 56 years period, i.e. 1960 – 2016, the population has more than quadrupled. It is clear to see from an increase of 29 million with a 50-year period to an increase of more than 140 million within a 56-year period. This alarming statistics reflects a 79% increase in population in the same period.
Where Nigeria Ranks
According to the UN, Nigeria currently ranks at number 7 on the list of country by population globally. Our population is equivalent to 2.48% of the world’s total population. This signifies that 1 out of every 43 humans on earth is a Nigerian. Should we be alarmed? Yes!
Going by December 2015 statistics , Nigeria’s population was more than that of the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain combined, or synonymously, more than Germany, Canada and South Korea all combined together. Also, the fact that 48.1% of the total population in country resides in the urban areas, is solely due to the impression of a better life in the urban area as perceived by people in remote areas.
Role of the Government
It is indeed pertinent that the focus of all tiers of government should be none other than building infrastructures for the citizens. Infrastructural development ought to be in the right proportion with population increase. We may be heading for a national social crisis due to the fact that infrastructures are not complementing the population. The current population has already outpaced all economic indices. It is the reason why patients in the general clinics are given the floors to use as bed space because the wards and corridors are already overpopulated. It is part of the reasons why I personally find it difficult to visit the hospitals. The sights are pitiable to behold.
What the Future Holds
According to experts, Nigeria’s population is estimated to be between 505 million and 1.03 billion people by 2100. Likewise, by 2050, it has been forecasted that Nigeria will be the third largest country due to the high rate of fertility. The living conditions of people seem to be on downward slide as the days roll by. On the streets of Port Harcourt, Rivers state, I see women walking the streets with boiled groundnuts not worth up to #1000 ($2), young boys who are supposed to be in school are on the streets cleaning windscreens of vehicle users, young men pushing wheelbarrows in the markets and so on. Yet, we have our numbers going up by the minutes.
Effect on Environmental Sustainability
We are growing on a daily basis in terms of number but we have failed to advance in other sectors. We are a developing country and our growth rate needs a checkmate until we at least stabilize in terms of fully being able to cater for the teeming populace as is the role of the government to its people. Considering the fact that the population explosion will be detrimental to our quest towards environmental sustainability, the 2030 goals will otherwise be affected. The efforts of the Paris Agreement to see the light of day will be truncated and while other countries are advancing in terms of sustainability, we will be having a different problem to contend with as regards our population.
The Way Forward
We have a crisis on our hands and we have failed to admit it. We need to advance infrastructure-wise; hospitals, housing, schools and roads. Also, our primary purpose should be the provision basic necessities of living such as electricity, food and water. Policies on birth rate should be meted out. Each nuclear family should have a maximum of two children. More efforts should be put in adult education and literacy especially in rural areas to help them understand the effects of overpopulation; that having necessary resources to take care of two children is better than birthing ten children whose source of living is difficult to achieve by the parents.