Nigeria requires consensual policy to reap dividend of its demography —DG Budget

The director general of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze has stressed on the need for a consensual and proactive policy document to enable the nation take advantage of the huge potential offered by its demographic opportunity.

Speaking at the Nigeria Economic Pre-Summit titled ‘Generating and Capitalizing on the Demographic Dividend Potential in Nigeria’ on Tuesday, Akabueze noted that expanding fiscal space and channelling more finance to human capital is currently a tough action to take considering the state of the country.

According to him, Nigerian youths are consistently growing in an environment where they do not see paying taxes as something important, and “this among others is making it difficult to expand the fiscal space.”

“In the context of this summit, we should see demographics as a time bomb rather than potential, that is what will make those who should take action know the urgency.”

He explained that while most social investment programs of the government are targeted at the young population, it is still difficult to make plans from the budget standpoint to generate and capitalize on the potential of Nigeria’s demographic.

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“We have data all around the place, it is critical that we address the issues of reliable population data. Despite constraints, we have made an additional N178 billion in addition to the annual provision we have been making the national population commission.

In his remark, a director at the Nigeria Economic Summit, Nnanna Ude, noted that at an annual average population growth rate of 3.5 percent, the rate of expansion of Nigeria’s population greatly exceeds the rate of resource mobilization capacity of the government.

According to him, the ratio of working age and dependence is expected to progressively increase from 1.1 in 2015 to between 1.4-1.7 in 2050, which means that there will be increasingly more working age adults.

“As it stands, the prospect of benefiting from the demographic dividend in Nigeria remains distant. This is in contrast with a typical age structure where the working age is greater than dependence.

“With the GDP growth rate which has averaged 0.3 percent in the past 5 years, consequently, unemployment and poverty rate has continued to rise in the period of economic expansion as the current population age structure of the country moves towards young ages.

“This accentuates the need to engage with stakeholders on the urgency required in ramping up the demographic transition by identifying and articulating support from national and subnational governments, the private sector and development partners,” he said.

Speaking further, Ude stressed on the need for the government to identify a set of proactive policies that require budget action in order to capitalize on potentials offered by a window of demographic opportunity.

This according to him will create a sense of urgency in policy development that will ensure that Nigeria demography yields a dividend and not a disaster.

The World bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri also stressed on the need for the government to increase spending on education and health sector as they have direct impact on the nation’s human resources.

He explained that per capita income today is the same as that of 40 years ago, which could be unfavorable if nothing is done to change the narrative.

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