Nigeria’s population has been escalating rapidly for at least the last five decades due to very high birth rates, quadrupling its populace amid deepening hunger.
Now the country is over 200 million people and with this pace Nigeria’s population will be 500 million in 2050, becoming the third most populated country on the planet, after India and China.
If Nigeria does not stop to grow its population – in some areas every woman gives birth to seven children – unarguably there would not be any future and neither humanitarian help nor free trade would save the situation.
Hence the increasing calls for the country to consider family planning so as to effectively control the number of births amid scarce resource.
Indeed, the challenges of Nigeria’s bourgeoning population dominated the discussion space at the ongoing Ehingbetti Economic Summit with experts saying that there is a need to enforce strict family planning laws.
One of the proponent of this school of thought, Muhammadu Sanusi, the former Emir of Kano, noted that the government cannot keep up with the pace of improving social infrastructure if people keep giving birth to children they cannot feed and educate.
“The idea that people can marry any number of wives they want without any kind of regulation to produce the number of children they can produce without being able to feed them and educate them is something that basically is completely antithetical even to Islamic law.”
Further, former Central Bank of Nigeria governor observed, “I don’t know why, but there is a mindset against implementing the appropriate regulations in Islam which is that you do not build families you cannot maintain and you cannot abandon this responsibility.
He reasoned, “We can continue preaching and we can tell the government to spend more money on education, but if people are going to produce 20, 30 children without being able to educate them, I maintain that the government cannot keep up with that pace.
“Beyond spending money and beyond the budget, the idea of education awareness, regulation and the mindset of people would need to be addressed.”
Truly, Nigerians need to understand that the family structure, child spacing, family planning and child rights are social issues that need to be addressed because these are critical to human capital outcomes according to Sanusi.
No doubt, there are series of awareness campaigns by government and health related non-governmental organisation aimed at taking the message of importance family planning across Nigerian homes in towns and villages.
As method of ensuring effective population control, the global community has set a target that by 2024; more women and girls around the globe would be able to plan their families and their future with the help of family planning programmes.
Visibly acting in line with this global commitment, Nigeria also set a target to increase its Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) from 17 per cent to 27 per cent that by 2024.
The CPR which is ‘the percentage of women of reproductive age who are currently using, or whose sexual partner is currently using, at least one contraceptive method, regardless of the method used’, is often reported for women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union.
Family Planning promotes child spacing, high productivity of the mother, improved quality life of the children as well as the family.
Ensuring that young women and girls have access to a growing range of contraceptive methods has resulted in not only improvements in health-related outcomes such as reduced maternal mortality and infant mortality, but also improvements in schooling and economic outcomes.
Through family planning, mothers and babies become healthier, because risky pregnancies are avoided, adding that fewer children means more food for each child.
“Family planning is cheap and abortion is expensive, you can get family planning free at any public health facility because the government has made provision for it.
Once family planning is administered to the woman, she will have enough time to take care of her existing children, husband and family at large. The woman will be economically viable to her family.
For every dollar spent on family planning, six dollars is been saved for the country and the six dollars can be used to do other things in the health system.