• Friday, April 12, 2024
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Nigeria’s population growth rate: How sustainable is it?

Nigeria’s population growth rate: How sustainable is it?

The world is tilting towards sustainability in all facets and spheres of life, that is, the ability to harness present benefits without compromising future chances and opportunities. The Sustainable Development Goals of 2030, is seen as a spring board for development policies in advanced and developing economies globally.

Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, happens to be the largest country in Africa, the largest black nation in the world, the 7th largest country in the world, all in terms of population, with an annual percentage population growth rate of 2.5% (approximately 5 million additional birth per year) according to World Health Organization (WHO).

At this current population growth rate, Nigeria is predicted to be the third (3rd) most populated country in the world by 2050 only behind India and China.

Considering the current economic realities in terms of hunger, nutrition, infant mortality rate and crime, for a country dubbed as the “Poverty Capital of the World” since 2016 by the World Bank, it beacons the need to ask, how sustainable is our current population growth rate?

Would it be considered a blessing or a curse in 2050 if the population forecast by the World Bank were anything to come by? Answers to these vital questions would satisfy our curiosity in the next paragraphs below.

Some scholars and researchers have opined that a rapidly increasing population can be a blessing in the area of increased productive activities (growth in Gross Domestic Product) in the economy, increase in military might against external aggression, and better human capital.

While, other schools of thought have argued that rapid population if unproductive, can affect economic growth and development because of it heavy dependency on the economy, it could also lead to higher crime rate, it could reduce the income per head and health crises in an event of a health pandemic among other reasons. These reasons are all valid and factual to an economic planner and expert.

Statistics from World Bank shows that Nigeria (at 2.5%) has the highest population growth rate of all the top ten (10) most populated countries in the World (China – 0.3%, India – 1.0%, USA – 0.4%, Indonesia – 1.1%, Pakistan – 2.0%, Brazil – 0.7%, Nigeria – 2.5%, Bangladesh – 1.0%, Russia – -0.2%, Mexico – 1.1%).

It also shows that 19 out of the top 20 countries with the highest population growth rate are in Africa, mostly sub-saharan Africa, including Nigeria. These are all countries heavily identified with underdevelopment, hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Again, statistical figures show that none of the highly industrialized economies like the USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, Italy, France, Canada, Switzerland, Holland, China, South Korea and Singapore, have a population growth rate of over 1.3%. While we are not blind to the benefits that could accrue from increasing population growth rate, this is a clear indication that Nigeria must strive to reduce her population growth rate below 1.5% at the maximum.

A nation whose economy is recovering from recession in over 30 months within the last five (5) years, occasioned by the fall in oil price in the global market and Covid-19 pandemic, should be wary of certain policies and “shock” within the economy.

The Nigeria economy is projected to grow at the rate of 2.4% by World Bank in 2021, while population growth rate at 2.5% shows there is a minimal imbalance in the rate of economic growth relative to the rate of population growth.

The annual 2021 budget for over 200 million people estimated at $35 billion, implies that $175 is the budgetary allocation for each Nigerian to meet her basic needs of life, with a huge chunk of that budget expected to be financed through foreign borrowing.

Read also: Why Nigeria is due for a population census

This is clearly alarming and unsustainable if Nigeria must attain economic development. This again, implies that Nigeria’s policy planners and makers must reduce her population growth rate, and must do so as quickly as possible.

According to Rev. Thomas Malthus, in his Malthusian law of population, the economy will grow at arithmetic progression while population will grow at geometric progression, which will lead to reduction in resources available for consumption.

This will lead to starvation, hunger, death and war. In order to avert this looming danger, there is a need for moral and social restraint.

There must be a population law to check population growth rate, fertility and discourage large family size, especially one that will result in high dependency on the Nigerian economy, and could act as a source of human resources for terrorism, banditry, cultism and other social vices if not properly educated, trained and gainful productive.

Conclusively, efforts must be channeled towards keeping our population growth rate in check so more resources would be available to invest in human development as the current economic realities shows our population growth rate is logically unsustainable.