Nigeria’s frightening population boom



A new study suggesting that Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of China by 2100 should serve as a wake-up call on the nation’s policy formulators and managers of the ecomomy to be more pragmatic, proactive prudent in the execise of their onerous constitutional responsibilties. China, which is currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years’ time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100 while India will become the world’s most populous nation.

The study predicts that within the same period, Nigeria’s population will hit 791 million, making it the second-largest country in the world. The research which was conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation states that the general population of the world will drop due to a reduction in fertility rates.

However, the population of sub-Saharan Africa – arguably the poorest region in the world – is expected to triple in size to more than three billion people by 2100. In an interview with BBC, researcher, Prof. Christopher Murray, said the population boom in sub-Saharan Africa would lead to migration of Africans to many European and Asian countries in need of higher population. This, he said, would, however, lead to a high incidence of racism.

Murray, who is a former Director of the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies, said, “We will have many more people of African descent in many more countries as we go through this. Global recognition of the challenges around racism are going to be all the more critical if there are large numbers of people of African descent in many countries.”

According to the research, falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. The number of children under the age of five will fall from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100. Conversely, the number of over 80-year-olds will soar from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million within the same period.

About 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. This also implies that countries would age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate is dropping because women are getting better education and spending more time working coupled with greater access to contraceptives.

If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The research showed that the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.

Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century. Similarly, Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from 61 million to 28 million over the same timeframe. About 21 other countries including Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea are expected to see their population drop by half. The population of the United Kingdom is predicted to peak at 75 million in 2063, and fall to 71 million by 2100.

Although the National Population Commission estimates the country’s population to be 198 million, but analysts agree that Nigeria’s population is growing at a terrifying rate and has remained the most populous country in Africa and the most populous black nation globally. This has put pressure on the nation’s infrastructure, which is not only decrepit but also in great deficit, no thanks to corruption and inept leadership over the years. Nigeria’s education, health, electricity, roads and other basic infrastructure are in direstraight.

The rising spate of children that are out of school, unemployment, insecurity and dearth in infrastructure has remained worrisome to all keen followers of Nigeria’s population index. It is believed that except something critical is done urgently to check the unpalatable growth, the country is as good as sitting on a ticking time bomb.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said recently at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau state, that between 1991 and 2006 when the last population census was conducted, Nigeria’s annual growth rate stood at 3.18 per cent. He noted that at this growth rate, Nigeria’s population in 2050 would be about 543 million.

The contemplation let alone forecast that Nigeria will soon become the most populous country in the world is quite frightening and must be approached with all due diligence. Consequently, we call on government at all levels to put adequate infrastructure in place to make life more meaningful for the people. Nigeria’s population growth will bring the country a demographic dividend if the young workforce is utilised to drive economic growth.

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