Nigeria, a country that can never be left out when talking about Africa has in the recent time been experiencing great measures of change in every way. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, it comprises of over 250 socio-linguistic groups. Looking at how tremendously the country’s population is growing, one will have to wonder the reasons for this great surge. Some concerned institutions have raised alarm on the scaring rate of population increase the country is experiencing. The total population in Nigeria was last recorded at over 183,523,432 million people this year 2015 from 45.2 million in 1960, increasing at a 295% rate during the last 55 years. This means that Nigeria is contributing approximately one-sixth of the African population and one fifth of Sub-Saharan African population.
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The UN on its part has postulated that there will be a high increase of human population by 2050 where more than half of the growth predicted is expected in Africa and Nigeria will be one of the countries in focus. According to the UN, the population of Nigeria will reach 440 million by 2050 thus making Nigeria the 3rd most populous country in the world. The demographics of Nigeria has undergone several changes over the past few decades and the following demographic factors could be attributed to it.
An Increased Birth Rate
The birth rate is usually the dominant factor in determining the rate of population growth. Nigeria, Like other advanced countries in the world, has so much developed in producing more advanced and productive medicines. With fertility treatments becoming readily available today, we have effective solutions to infertility problems leading to increased chances of conception hence the rise in the average birth rate. Due to modern medicine, pregnancies are safer. In the cases of conception after a fertility treatment, there are chances of multiple pregnancies, further contributing to increasing birth rates. It’s no news that in Nigeria today, every Saturday of the week is dedicated to weddings and naming ceremonies with most married couples being pressured to have more children.
More so, despite the existence of the law banning child marriage, Nigeria is still faced with an increasing rate of child marriage. Among Nigerian women between the ages of 20 and 24, 76% are reported to have been married before the age of 18, and 28% are reported to have been married before the age of 15. As at 2013, 18-25% of school dropouts in Nigeria were the result of child marriage. High rates of child marriages hamper Nigeria’s development rate. It affects the nation’s economic development because it hinders the girls’ education and labour market participation. Some researchers and activists note that high rates of child marriage reduce global efforts to eradicate poverty due to its effects on educational attainment, economic and political participation, and health.
Among demographers, public commentators and observers, the characteristics of the sex structure of Nigeria’s population were an uncommon feature of population structure worldwide. Many had argued that females the world over are usually more in number and adduced some standard scientific arguments right from the formative stages of the fetus to adult life of the individual to justify their position. We can also add the fact that the high desire to have a male child leads to the rise in childbirth.
Many cultures in Nigeria attach great preference to male child than the female child. Male offspring are more valued than females for a variety of reasons (like carrying on the family name, greater upper-body strength for physical labor), which leads to the common practice of continuous childbirth in an attempt to have male children. Also, African sociologists have made comments concerning the reason for high birth rates. According to them, some religious groups such as the Islamic religion permits a man to marry more than one wife and which is often a precondition for the accord of certain rights and privileges. In the cultural explanation, certain rights and honors are only conferred based on the number of wives and children a man has. Hence the rise in the birth rate in Nigeria.
Drop in Mortality Rate
It is a sad fact that Nigeria is faced with a decreasing mortality rate, particularly among infants. The reduced mortality rate is one of the causes of overpopulation. Nigeria is currently experiencing medical advancements and to this credit, many of the once incurable diseases have cures today. Owing to advances in both preventive and curative medicine, diseases have either been eradicated or have more effective treatments now. There are effective ways to control epidemics and there are better measures to treat critical health ailments, thus leading to a drop in death rates. Developments in medicine have led to reduced mortality and increase in the average life expectancy of humans. Infant mortality rates are very low and cases of deaths during childbirth are less frequent. Good prenatal care has improved the chances of survival for both the mother and the baby. Today we see an average Nigerian woman having a developing access to skilled care before, during and after they give birth and women and girls are being educated about maternal health issues.
High Immigration Rate
Nigeria is known for her mass natural and human resources, her inviting weather, a land filled with economic enterprise and a land where anyone can survive. No wonder there’s a massive influx of people into the country for either legal or illegal reasons. Nigeria shares 773km border stretch with the Benin Republic, 87km with Chad and then an entire stretch of 1,049km with Niger republic and 1,690km with Cameroon. The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), announced that there are about 1,487 illegal routes to Nigeria through these porous borders which have encouraged the influx of foreigners from Chad, Mali, Niger, Cameroon and other countries into Nigeria.
Most of these foreigners have been identified to be active members of insurgency groups like the Boko Haram sect. This infiltration of the country by illegal immigrants and terrorists is partly caused by the failure of the Federal Government to empower the Nigeria Immigration Service with the necessary equipment and manpower for a steady monitoring of the borders. Today we see most of these immigrants littered on every street of the Nigerian states either begging for arms or causing other forms of nuisance. Overpopulation in Nigeria is such that the population density is so blatant it has caused an impaired quality of life, serious environmental degradation, and long-term shortages of essential goods and services. It is an imbalance between the number of individuals vis-à-vis the resources needed for survival, the ratio of population over resources, and a function of the number or density of individuals, compared to resources like food, employment, and business opportunities.
Overpopulation is a personal and political matter. On the personal level, we refuse to reduce the number of our children voluntarily. On the political level, we use the power of the state to increase the population by encouraging individuals to have more children, by banning abortion, and by supporting immigration. Immigration, in particular, It has been proven that while resources tend to grow precariously, population grows exponentially. If left unchecked Nigeria’s population will continue to amplify and become too bulky to be supported by the resources available, with or without good leadership. Nigeria may be rich in terms of natural resources and income but an out of control population will not ensure the quality of human life if resources are over stretched. With an out of control population, there are additional resources to be considered, such as medical care, employment, the environment, money, education, electricity, sewage, waste management, and transportation. Negative impacts should also be considered including crowding stress and increased pollution. Lagos is a good example of what overpopulation can be like.