President Muhammadu Buhari launched a revised version of the National Policy on Population on Thursday the 3rd of February 2022. The revised policy places emphasis on the need to control the country’s growing population. Nigeria is currently the most populated African country with more than 206 million inhabitants.
This also makes it the seventh most populated country in the world. President Buhari plans to improve access to family planning and other birth control measures. This will check the fertility rate and also improve the general well-being of Nigerians
The launch of the policy is closely followed by the inauguration of the National Council on Population Management (NCPM). Charing this department is the President himself and the vice president of Nigerian Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo will be standing in as the vice-chairman. Other members of the department are the heads of various Ministries, departments, and agencies within the country. According to the president,
“The policy emphasizes the urgency to address Nigeria’s sustained high fertility rate, through expanding access to modern family planning, counselling, commodities as well as promote birth spacing. This will enable Nigeria to achieve rapid fertility control, improve the health of women, adolescents, new born children and other population groups”.
Benefits of the Revised Population Policy
The benefits of the policy as highlighted by the president goes beyond just population control. It also addresses the needs of the youths in the country. Nearly 72% of the country’s population is below the age of 30.
So, there is a huge demand for infrastructure and human capital development. Additionally, half of the female population in the country falls within the reproductive age range of 15 – 49 years. Recognizing these facts, the president said,
“These levels have implications for sustained population growth and narrowed prospects to achieving population management, facilitating sufficient demographic transition, harnessing our demographic endowment and eventually realizing sustainable development”.
The president also noted that the revised population policy amplifies the need to invest in quality education of young people (especially girls), human capital development, and advancing holistic effort to achieve significant demographic transition.
“The Revised Population Policy is rich with all necessary information that will guide the implementation of Nigeria’s Mid-term and Perspective Development Plan. It will further address concerns of the large population of young people who are our pride, our future, and assets to drive our development efforts.”
International Recognition and Approval
Reacting to the launch of the Revised Population Policy, the UN Resident Coordinator to Nigeria, Matthias Schmale gave a metaphorical nod in approval of the policy. In his goodwill message, Mr. Schmale outlined three reasons why the policy will be successful. According to him,
“The Policy brings to the forefront the linkages between population and development and will inform work and services to improve the well-being and lives of Nigerians.
“Secondly, the policy is coming on the heels of the recently launched 2021- 2025 National Development Plan which focuses on making Nigeria the greatest economy in Africa and even more of a force to reckon with in the world.
“Thirdly, the successful implementation of the National Policy will very likely have positive implications for maternal health development, youth and adolescent rights, and the empowerment of women and the girl child.”
Implementation of the Revised Population Policy
Concerning the implementation of the policy, the President affirms that credible, reliable, timely, robust, geo-referenced, and well-disaggregated data is needed. He goes further to express confidence that the next National census will provide all the relevant data. Buttressing his point, Nasir Kwarra, Chairman of the National Population Commission said,
” In addition to providing strategic direction in the implementation process, the Council will hopefully advocate for and support the conduct of the population and housing census, thus providing accurate and up-to-date data to guide the implementation of the Policy.”
Matthias Schmale, the UN Resident Coordinator to Nigeria has also pledged that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will support the NPC in ensuring that the forthcoming National census satisfies both local and international standards.
A Different Perspective
While the Nigerian government hammers on the need to control the population, many Nigerians have taken to Twitter to air their views. A reoccurring theme of these tweets is that the launch of the revised policy is a glaring act of hypocrisy. A Twitter user promptly pointed out that the president has a large family. It also goes without saying that if such a policy were to be implemented, it shouldn’t be at the dying minute of his tenure.
President Buhari only has a few months left in office. Controlling the population of Nigeria isn’t something that can be achieved in a year or two. Furthermore, considering the “blame game” that President Buhari’s government is known for, the launch of this policy only raises eyebrows.
Is it something the government is truly passionate about? Or could it simply be a makeup intended to hide the flaws and shortcomings of the Nigerian government? Here is what Nigerians are saying.