Nigeria’s Rising Population And The Poverty Challenge

Nigeria’s Rising Population And The Poverty Challenge

Nigeria’s population has steadily risen over the decades, from 45.1 million in 1960, 95.3 million in 1990, 158.6 million in 2010 and 198 million presently, according to the latest estimates by the National Population Commission (NPC), making Nigeria the seventh most populous nation, accounting for 2.

5 percent of the world’s population.
It is projected that by 2050, the country will be home to over 400 million people, the thirst largest in the world, surpassing the U.S., and behind India and China.
This statistics would have been one to celebrate but it is not. For a good economy, a huge and rising youthful population means productive workforce to drive and sustain industrialization. Unfortunately the reverse is the case here. A huge part of the available workforce is unskilled, unemployed, and unemployable, coupled with a largely mono-product economy.   As a result, coupled with misgovernace, large-scale theft of the commonwealth and sheer unpatriotism, the country is underdeveloped, with a huge swathe of the population in want of the basic things of life.
With such a galloping population, Nigeria is sure to struggle with providing the needs of its people. It is obvious that the population is outgrowing her limited economy, especially with dwindling revenue from oil, its revenue base, due to fall in price and militancy in the Niger Delta region. It was such oil price fall that saw Nigeria slide into recession in 2017.
According to the World Poverty Clock which tracks poverty in 99.7 percent of the world,  Nigeria’s poverty problems will not be in 2050, but now. Using data received from the IMF, UN, World Bank and Nigerian authorities, it estimated that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty – that is, those living on less than $1.9 a day. It also put the number of Nigerians living in this condition at 82 million, or 42.4 percent of the population.
The figure could be higher.  A report by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) said 152 million Nigerians are living in poverty.
Whatever the correct figure is, the high rate of poverty in the country is very worrisome, and it will only get worse if our leaders do not start looking at the larger picture of collective national wellbeing; most of them still see governance from the narrow prism of primitive acquisition.
Insecurity has unarguably been a huge contributing factor. The combined onslaught of  Boko Haram in the  North East, killer-herdsmen in the North Central and bandits in parts of the North West have left the largely agrarian northern region’s economy in coma, killed and displaced thousands of farming communities and left otherwise productive men and women incapacitated in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps where they live in very poor conditions.
Massive youth unemployment, inflation and devaluation of the naira which have wiped away the purchasing power of salary earners, in addition to poor infrastructure and the near total absence of social protection have all contributed to pushing more Nigerians into penury. There are others, but what is important is our political leaders to rise to the challenge of reversing this ugly trend, and this they can only do by strategic planning.
In the last 15 years, through well thought-out economic reforms and a genuine fight against corruption and waste, China removed over 600 million people from poverty.
Nigerian leaders should learn from China. First, it must purge the governance system in both public and private sectors of corruption and wastefulness. Then they must develop infrastructure, especially power infrastructure which will drive industrialisation. Other basic amenities like roads, rails, functional education, hospitals, pipe-borne and water must be made accessible to the masses. All these will improve the standard of living. Also, the interest rate should be reduced to single-digit to encourage entrepreneurship.
There is a direct link between the poverty level and the rising rate of drug abuse and violent crimes in the land. Without peace and order there cant be no development, so ending the spate of insecurity across the country is paramount.


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