How to control your population – without drama

At the inauguration of the new board of the National Population Commission – which has

Global population is now projected to hit 10 billion by 2050. Nigeria will account for over 400 million of that.

former Nigeria Breweries MD Festus Odimegwu as Chairman – President Goodluck Jonathan spoke about the possibility of introducing legislation to reduce births. Nigeria’s population currently stands at 160 million, and is projected to hit 433 million by the middle of the century. Looked at in that light, the need to control population is an important one, especially as the challenges of taking care of current responsibilities is daunting. People have to have access to food, water, and other resources to live decent lives.

However, trying to legislate a reduction in the number of children a woman can have will run into unnecessary opposition, and bring controversy where there shouldn’t be any. One of the key drivers of high birth rates is infant mortality. When a woman knows that her children are likely to die or be deformed due to disease or conflict, the motivation to have many children is high. The highest birth rates in the world today are from countries with high infant mortality and constant war. If you are going to ask people to have one or two children, infant mortality must be drastically lowered.

Ending extreme poverty will reduce the need to have many children, so that they can work for the family. We see them every day: hawking, wiping windshields, in the markets, and so on. Only the reality of grinding poverty makes that possible, especially since they could be in school. Prosperous countries show a consistent decline in birth rates. Germany and Japan are just two examples.

There is a need to get religious leaders on the same page with the government. Religion plays a disproportionately important role in Nigeria, and the message of having only the number of children a family can cater for will gain traction faster if religious leaders are enlisted. Religion is also a barrier to having access to and knowledge about contraception. Less than 10% of Nigerian women aged 15-49 use modern contraception, and this is another thing that must change.

Watch Melinda Gates’ excellent TED talk on the need for better access to contraception here.

Perhaps the most fundamental step that can be taken is to focus on educating more women, and make more women part of the labour force. Educated, working women tend to marry later and have fewer children. This is the interesting conclusion Hans Rosling reached at the end of this TED talk.

Already, opposition to any proposed birth control legislation has begun to build from religious leaders, but no matter what faith anyone belongs to, there is no dignity in having more children than one can care for. The Federal government must do all it can to let everyone realise this.

It will not be achieved by legislation, however. The President has done very well to bring the issue of our population explosion to the forefront, but his handling of it will determine whether it becomes part of our national consciousness, or disappears into the fog of religion and empty politics.

A more educated and empowered female population is the key to slowing down a population growth rate that is among the highest in the world, but we must allow women make their own choices, and give them the information necessary to lead healthy lives.

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10 thoughts on “How to control your population – without drama”

  1. “The President has done very well to bring the issue of our population explosion to the forefront, but his handling of it will determine whether it becomes part of our national consciousness, or disappears into the fog of religion and empty politics.”.

    Very well said!! You have drawn a very workable blue-print (that could be further developed). We can only hope someone somewhere is listening and picks up on this.

  2. while i agree with the TED talk, it doesn’t exactly point out much for me, it did however show new ways of looking at the issue.
    the statement: ‘Educated, working women tend to marry later and have fewer children’ isn’t exactly true unless you can show data proving that. I took a small poll of women in that category (in my head) and it was came to about 7 out of 15; they had few children but not all 7 married later, some have few children not because they don’t want more.
    Our ‘culture’, the bane of our existence, doesn’t allow women, educated or not (forget the people on twitter, they are a full minority) to make the choice of having few children. Over here, children are a gift from God so they must be accepted at all costs. Contraceptives are to be used only with prostitutes or in extra-marital affairs. The issues don’t end.
    You are right however, nothing GEJ can pass can help. This problem can only be tackled at the grassroots; religious leaders, traditional leaders such and such, until eventually reorientation is complete.

  3. I think Nigeria needed legislation on population like 20 years ago. We wouldn’t be facing a lot of the problems we are facing now. For one I don’t think you would go and blow your self up if you were your mother’s only son for example, especially with the way she would have raised you.
    I think this might be Goodluck’s first idea that I agree with. It is quite visionary especially as he will not reap any tangible political rewards from doing this, (But then…what reward would he gain from many of his decisions..oh well).
    I think that Legislation is indeed the way forward, especially as it does not necessarily have to be just a hard limit on the number of children a family can have, but could and should include all these sociocultural changes you have mentioned but also a general health plan to aid access to long term contraceptives

  4. A large population is an advantage for economic growth. The Chinese example is a case in sight. It is also a good bargaining chip in international politics. At the end of the 2nd World War, China was not a super power but their population size made the language one of the official six by the United Nations. The problem is not a large population but rather the fact that we have been cursed with visionless leaders at all levels and in all spheres who have conspired to create a failed state. What’s all this talk about Melinda Gates? Does Africa need 120 million contraceptives when people die of hunger and preventable diseases? Linked to population control is abortion which is a multi-billion dollar business as foetuses are brazenly and shamelessly sold. Beneath the contraceptives message is the surreptitous creation of a steady market for the sale of African foetuses. 2nd slave trade under the guise of de-population. Aren’t Canada, France and many Scandinavian countries promoting incentives to aid fertility? Doesn’t Japan face the threat of annihilation because of its low fertility rate? Nigerians wake up and resist this asinine imperialist agenda under the guise of ‘population control.’ Wake Up!

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