The future looks bleak and gloomy if we do not do something about it now.
On Saturday, August 5, 2017, Senator Ben Murray Bruce tweeted something so alarming and dangerous.
The former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority alerted Nigerians to a ticking time bomb.
"In 2017, our projected population growth is 2.6% while our projected economic growth is 0.8%. We MUST stop producing more babies than jobs!" he tweeted.
This is a stark warning to Nigerians. As it stands now, Nigerians are producing more babies than the system can handle. Bear in mind that our health system and educational system are far from ideal.
Ben Murray Bruce's warning is not anything new. In 2015, popular political commentator Cheta Nwanze tweeted about the impending danger facing us all. If you think the dear senator's tweet was gloomy wait till you read Nwanze's Twitter thread.
From 2008-2011, 5.8 million babies were born in Europe. In contrast, Nigeria produced 30.4 million babies within this same period. Imagine the pressure these babies would put on the health care sector that is in shambles.
And this is just the beginning. Do we really have higher institutions that can cater to at least 20 million young Nigerians within the next two decades? When they graduate and join the work force would we have jobs for them?
The unemployment rate in Nigeria as at Q4 2016 was estimated at 21% according to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics. The NBS Labour Statistics report showed unemployment rate increased by 14.2% in Q4 2016.
The sad part about this situation is that the poorest regions that have the highest fertility rates. Also, the fertility rate in rural areas is higher than the fertility rate in urban areas. What this means is that the poor among us our breeding like there is no tomorrow. The ironic thing is that if they continue there would be no tomorrow.
Pulse reached out to Cheta Nwanze to find out what can be done about this impending crisis. "I don't know again. There was a time I could have given answers but it is clear these people are not interested in sorting this thing out so I am now despondent about it and I think the situation is now hopeless" he bluntly stated.
According to him, the Nigerian government is not interested in tackling this issue even though the simple answer to this issue is to create more jobs. "The infrastructure deficit alone is enough to absorb maybe 40-50 percent of our labour force. It's not about direct labour but the value chain it creates" said Nwanze.
He pointed out that the Biafra agitation in the East is a clear indication on the problem on our hands. "A month ago I was in Nnamdi Kanu's house. It was a work day. There were twenty thousand people of my age outside his house on a work day. What does that tell you? And you think they are happy? "
"This thing is not just a problem in Igbo land. I have the said the same thing everywhere I have been to in Nigeria. The problem is jobs, jobs, jobs. Create jobs" he stressed.
Cheta Nwanze said via a phone interview that "the answer is in our lack of infrastructure but we are clearly not interested in solving this."
His last statement might be true. What is the government doing about this? The first point of call is the National Population Commission. Unfortunately but not surprisingly the commission's website is not operational.
The government has made attempts to deal with this population issue. In 2004, the National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development was established to "achieve accelerated economic growth, eradicate poverty, protect the environment and provide high-quality social services; achieve a balance between population growth and available resources; and improve the reproductive health of all Nigerians."
The Nigerian factor has so far held this back. According to data by Partnership for Advocacy on Child and Family Health (PACFaH) in a Daily Trust report, funds for family planning were not released by the Federal Government in 2014, 2015, and 2016. State governments have done likewise.
The United Nations Organization has predicted that the population of the country would be 400-500 million by 2050. That's 33 years from now. It might look far but it is not. Our present day infrastructures can't handle our population. By 2050 your guess would be good as mine.
We are sitting on a ticking bomb. We are giving birth to children the state won't be able to provide for. We are messing up our future and the signs have started to show.
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