Is Birth Control Legislation the Answer to the Population Problem in Nigeria?
By Karen Attiah, SaharaTV
The world is tipping the scale at 7 billion people. The majority of new births in the world are taking place in developing countries. African countries alone are accounting for a large population of the world’s population growth. Africa’s population is expected to more than triple from 1 billion in 2011 to 3.6 billion in 2100 according to the United Nations.
That’s a lot of people.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with 160 million people. The World Bank estimates that a Nigerian woman has on average, 5 to 6 children, and a household with 10 children is not uncommon. The U.N. has reported that Nigeria’s population could reach 400 million by 2050.
That’s a lot of people. In a really short time.
Last month, the Daily Trust in Nigeria reported that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is considering legislation that will address Nigeria’s population issues. He said that for “us to plan properly, we must manage our population”. He remarked that the issue of birth control was a very “sensitive topic… we are extremely religious people; either you are a Christian or Muslim….so it is difficult for you to tell any Nigerian to number his children because they are gifts of God and it is not expected to reject God’s gifts.”
President Jonathan went on to say, “Nigerians must be made to know that we cannot continue to procreate and procreate even though we know children are God’s gifts.”
Unsurprisingly, both Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria came out fiercely against the notion of legislating birth control, as both the Quran and the Bible encourage reproduction between married couples and discourage contraception.
Many developed countries have lower birthrates, its true. But should the population problem be placed squarely on the shoulders of families having children? The population problem is not only a problem of census numbers. The population problem is a problem of not enough government resources and infrastructure available to support its people. Population growth has outpaced economic growth in Africa for years. Demands that families reduce their numbers should not absolve a government from properly allocating resources for healthcare, education, urban planning, water provision, and sanitation systems. Doling out birth control to Nigerians does not remove the responsibility of the Nigerian government to curb the corruption that is robbing Nigerian citizens of access to a properly functioning society.
Nigeria’s population problem is just as much an issue of a lack of government vision and planning as it is a matter of people having a lot of children, if not more.