The federal government eventually broke its graveyard silence on Nigeria’s controversial population figure. The National Population Commission (NPC) announced last week that Nigeria’s population now stands at 198 million.
It noted rather belatedly that its figures and that of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) were practically the same since the difference was just three million.
UNFPA had two months ago put Nigeria’s population at 201, 829,541. The federal government angrily rejected that figure but could not present its own.
NPC’s confession gives government impotent rage the toga of misplaced irascibility. As usual, the NPC did not show any sign of distress about the country’s population explosion.
Ironically, foreigners are so worried about Nigeria’s population explosion that it is gradually becoming a case of someone swallowing panadol for his neighbour’s headache. The federal government is not worried about the horrendous mismatch between Nigeria’s population growth and revenue generation capacity.
On several occasions the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised the red flag about Nigeria’s population explosion. The World Bank shares the same view.
Two months ago, Regine Hess, the deputy head of mission in the German Embassy in Nigeria warned about the disastrous consequences of the yawning gap between revenue and population growth.
The truth is that a country that fails to plan plans to fail. Either way one is planning. You either plan to fail or you plan to succeed. Nigeria has an elaborate plan to fail.
It watches the citizenry breed like rabbits without an idea on how to feed the new arrivals. Statistics suggests that 20, 964 babies are born in Nigeria every day. That figure apparently does not capture the births in churches and homes in Nigeria’s inaccessible rural communities.
As inaccurate as it may be, that figure suggests that Nigeria’s population grows by at least eight million every year. Britain’s population grew by a scant five million in the last 48 years. Britain is the world’s fifth largest economy. Nigeria is not in the first 20.
Nigeria is in deep trouble with population explosion. At 5.3 children per woman, the average fertility rate of Nigerian women is almost twice the global average of 2.9 per woman. A nation with a housing deficit of 16 million units has every reason to curtail population growth.
A country with 13.5 million children of school age out of school is heading precipitously for catastrophic failure if unplanned population growth persists.
Ironically, many Nigerians including some highly educated ones still see the population explosion as a blessing.
They believe that IMF sees economic and military threats in Nigeria’s population growth.
The perception is that IMF is worried that Nigeria would become a stronger military and economic power with its current population growth. IMF is rightly worried about Nigeria’s population explosion. Economists believe that a country’s economy must grow at twice the rate of its population growth for it to sustain a reasonable standard of living.
Nigeria’s economy lumbers along at less than half the rate of population growth. That explains why Nigeria has become the global headquarters of extremely poor people with 98 million compatriots not knowing where the next meal would come from.
IMF’s fear is that with the population exploding and the economy limping, millions of impoverished Nigerians would flee the bad governance in their country and inundate developed economies in Europe and North America with desperate illegal immigrants many of whom would resort to crime for survival.
With the world becoming a global village, IMF’s fear is already materializing. Hundreds of Nigerians on daily basis risk the smoldering heat of the Sahara Desert, wade through insecure routes in Niger and Mali and land Libya where they board over-crowded rickety boats for the suicidal journey in the Mediterranean with the hope of reaching Spain and eventually Italy.
Though hundreds of the illegal migrants die monthly from the scorching heat of the Sahara Desert and the turbulence of the Mediterranean Sea, thousands still make the dangerous journey to Europe. They now constitute a huge menace to the host countries.
IMF position in the population explosion menace is like the case of a rich man and a poor man living side by side.
The rich man raises two children while the poor man breeds 20. While the poor man has the right to raise even 50 children, the rich man is worried that the poor man who cannot feed and train his battalion of children would abandon them in the streets and they would become robbers, kidnappers and bandits who would inflict misery on the rich who planned his family.
That is primarily why the IMF is worried about Nigeria’s population explosion. IMF knows that Nigerian rulers and the parents of the children in the population boom have no plans for the new arrivals. The ultimate is that they would become a menace to those who planned their families and economies.
IMF is not worried about Nigeria becoming a strong economic and military power through its population explosion. Everyone knows that the rulers of Nigeria have planned to fail and may never make the country a strong power.
The fear of IMF and even well informed Nigerians is the disastrous consequences of Nigeria’s failure with massive population.
The robberies, kidnappings, banditry and murderous herdsmen’s menace plaguing most parts of Nigeria at the moment are the initial consequences of unplanned population growth. The days ahead may be even more calamitous.