Nigeria’s demographic time bomb, by Jibrin Ibrahim

The rate of population growth is a problem because Nigeria has been characterized as the poverty capital of the world, with 93.9 million people currently living below the poverty line, according to economist Bismarck Rewane. In addition, seven million Nigerians are believed to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 alone. Nigeria… with over 200 million people, was declared the world capital of poverty for the first time in 2018… bringing down poverty. India’s position.

Yesterday I gave the ninth series of the National Population Commission Annual Population Lectures on “Population, Rights and Peace”. I agreed with Bode Augusto that the popular saying that “the people of Nigeria are a force” that could provide a demographic dividend, is wrong. As he argued:

“People are only a force if they are well educated, in good health, if the economy has the capacity to provide them with jobs and if households have enough income to buy goods and services produced by companies. . “

He rightly added that one of Nigeria’s biggest problems is uncontrolled population growth: “Every year we add five million people to our population. It’s about the size of Liberia or Montenegro. In 1960, the population of the United Kingdom was 52 million, while that of Nigeria was 46 million; in 2015 UK was 62 million while Nigeria was 185 million and by 2070 Nigeria will be 550 million while UK will be only 80 million! This means that over a period of 110 years Nigeria will add over 500 million to its population, while the UK will add only 30 million and the UK will come from a higher base. It’s scary !”

The rate of population growth is a problem because Nigeria has been characterized as the poverty capital of the world, with 93.9 million people currently living below the poverty line, according to economist Bismarck Rewane. In addition, seven million Nigerians are believed to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 alone. Nigeria, according to Rewane, with a population of 200 million and over, was first declared the world capital of poverty in 2018. , in a Brookings Institution report, removing India from this position. According to the report, the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty is increasing by six people every minute.

No regime in the history of Nigeria has borrowed as much as the Buhari administration. According to Dr Doyin Salami, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Board to the President, Nigeria’s current debt stock is unsustainable, with a service-to-revenue ratio of 98 percent, which is increasing, even though the debt-to-GDP ratio is relatively low. 35 percent. We borrow heavily to pay recurring budget expenses, while revenues decrease instead of increasing. The main concern is the high rate of increase in outstanding debt. We are leaving a toxic legacy for young Nigerians who would end up with the burden of debt. No generation of leaders should be so mean.

For too long, the country’s economic growth rate has been lower than the population growth rate, which means the average Nigerian is getting poorer every year. This ongoing scenario is that of a population explosion, due to the growing population time bomb. Part of the solution is to reduce the rate of population growth.

Poverty in Nigeria is not evenly distributed. The number of people living in poverty in the northern region has increased since 2011 and in 2016 it represented 87% of all poor people in Nigeria. In contrast, the South is making greater progress, with only around 12% of its population living in poverty in 2016. In general, inequalities have increased in recent years, as indicated by the increase in the Gini coefficient of 0 , 36 to 0.42 between 2011 and 2016, a situation that fuels instability and conflict.

The most important contemporary problem for Nigeria is the lack of opportunities for young people. The country has developed a huge youth explosion which has grown rapidly. This is happening at a time when formal employment opportunities are dwindling and having a job has become a minority experience. The North is the region of the country most affected in this regard. The North, particularly the North East and the North West, are the most backward regions of Nigeria in all social sectors. It has the highest birth rate in the contemporary world, the lowest level of economic development, the least access to education, and the poorest network of health facilities and staff. The population of the North is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the country, thus worsening poverty rates.

In Nigeria, in 2015, the fertility rate was 5.5 births per woman, but in 2016 it increased to 5.8 births per woman. This means that women in Nigeria will have, on average, 5.8 children each during their entire reproductive period. The North has higher fertility rates than the rest of the country, with Jigawa state recording the highest fertility rate of 8.5 children per woman and Kano, 7.7, according to the 2016 survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics. The problem generated by this very large family size manifested itself in the persistent tendency to send boys to almajiranci and girls to child marriages in the northeast and northwest. The practice is often justified on religious grounds. The pressure to feed large families with many children is great and could very well act as a push factor to lift these children out of family responsibility in their early teens. If this is not a problem of poverty, why don’t most of the elite families in the same area send their children to almajiranci and early marriages?

For too long, the country’s economic growth rate has been lower than the population growth rate, which means the average Nigerian is getting poorer every year. This ongoing scenario is that of a population explosion, due to the growing population time bomb. Part of the solution is to reduce the rate of population growth. China’s one-child policy has been the most drastic and successful attempt to reduce the rate of population growth and accelerate economic development in recent times. I doubt that any other country in the world can successfully implement such a drastic policy.

Nigeria’s most feasible policy option is to begin engaging in public education on the benefits of smaller families, where resources to educate and maintain children are more available. However, cultural resistance to such a policy could be very high. By simply keeping girls in school until they are at least 18 years old, there would be a significant reduction in the fertility rate. As Famoroti argued, “education is the least invasive contraceptive”. He also points out that historically, the empowerment of women has been even more essential in lowering birth rates. Empowering women inside and outside the home – in the workplace, in politics, in religious institutions, etc. will lead them to make different decisions about motherhood and child rearing.

There are too many groups that have discovered that getting an AK47 can be their path to wealth because they are not part of the government, where you can get rich by flying unarmed. It is the demographic time bomb we find ourselves in today.

According to Henrik Urdel, an examination of the dynamics of the population in the world, between the years 1950 and 2000, showed that high fertility rates produce a youth surge, which, in turn, is a precursor of internal armed conflict. . It is therefore not surprising that the state of insecurity in Nigeria has reached an unprecedented level. On a daily basis, well-coordinated commando operations led by armed men are organized against rural communities, where people are kidnapped for ransom, their homes burned and their property looted. Similar attacks are also carried out against the army and the police. These attacks are now occurring in virtually all geopolitical areas of the country.

As Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara said, there are no less than 30,000 armed men in more than 100 camps in and around the state. He said that the bandits’ grip on the state is such that they have collected 970 million naira from the families of their victims in the eight years between 2011 and 2019. During the same period, the bandits have killed 2,619 people and kidnapped 1,190 others. In recent years, a significant proportion of farmers have been unable to visit their farms out of fear, as such food insecurity is looming on the horizon.

General Abdulsalam Abubakar, chairman of the National Peace Committee, told Nigeria in April this year that there were six million weapons in circulation in the hands of non-state actors in Nigeria and that they were using them. . The death toll, he estimates, is 80,000, while around three million people are internally displaced. The country finds itself at a point in our national trajectory where young Nigerians feel sufficiently marginalized from STATE and SOCIETY to procure arms and engage in self-help, which they variously define as banditry, scorched earth attacks on innocent village communities, accompanied by rape and other forms of sexual violence, in addition to the killing of security agents, and even the declaration of an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria.

There are too many groups that have discovered that getting an AK47 can be their path to wealth because they are not part of the government, where you can get rich by flying unarmed. It is the demographic time bomb we find ourselves in today.

Professor of political science and consultant / development expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is Senior Fellow of the Center for Democracy and Development and Chairman of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.

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