According to the United Nations estimates, Nigeria’s total population will double from its current 200 million to more than 400 million by the end of 2050. Right now, Worldometers estimates Nigeria’s population at more than 220 million. This is quite sizable in relation to Nigeria’s land mass of 910,770 sq km. If the trend continues unaltered, the number of people in Nigeria will exceed 700 million by 2100. Unarguably, Nigeria’s growth rate is one of the highest in the world.
What this results in is a greater use of public infrastructures and public amenities. There will also be a greater consumption of non-renewable resources, leading to a faster depletion of natural resources. Higher population will lead to greater pollution levels in air, water and land. In Nigeria, the effects of this situation is apparent in the city of Lagos. As more people move into Lagos from other states, the density of the state continues to skyrocket and strain the resources available.
Lagos is a prime example of what population boom causes.
It is not uncommon to find residents who have moved from rural areas to the city to find the living settings in the state strange. The premises of houses in the rural area are quite spacious and surrounded by greens. In this kind of setting, there is enough ventilation and the air is clean enough because of enough vegetation around. However, this is quite strange in a typical Lagos setting where more people live on the same premises.
When an apartment building is referred to as a “barrack,” it is because the only difference between that kind of place and a military base is that the latter is housed by soldiers. Nigeria’s fertility rate stands at 5.1 children per woman, while the global rate is 2.4 births. This can be seen as scores of people troop in and out of the premises and children playing around. Traffic is another issue that seems to be peculiar to Lagos and its suburbs. Spending two or three hours in transit per time is not strange to Lagosians. When it is really intense, people can spend six hours in traffic. All these are caused by the increase in the number of people in the state and, consequently, the rise in population density.
The challenges of Nigeria’s growing population.
Michael Ayamga, the director of the West Africa Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation, noted that Nigeria would need to take urgent preventive measures. According to UNICEF, Nigeria has more than 65 million people aged 10-24. John Oyefara, a professor of demography at the University of Lagos, affirmed that these young people grow up and enter “the reproductive age,” causing the population to grow even further. While population growth could be an asset for Nigeria, the growth could increase the country’s difficulties, which include acute poverty, insecurity and political instability, if the growth remains uncontrolled.
Concerned citizens have said that they are aware of the problem and the need to do something about it. A local told the media that he really made a good decision not wanting to have too many children considering the situation of the country and how the economy worsens by the day. This is to be reckoned with as residents of slums, such as Makoko in Lagos, are not alien to having multiple wives and dozens of children. “A large family is a blessing from God,” one man from Makoko told newsmen. He said he liked a large family and had decided he would have one when he became older.
Human capital development is needed in Nigeria.
When the resources available are unable to meet the basic needs of the growing population, the result is inadequate facilities in our health sector, food security, housing, transportation and even employment. According to the World Bank, unemployment in Nigeria grew from 6.4 percent in 2010 to 33.3 percent at the end of 2020. Estimates point to an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent in 2023. The situation is especially dire for the young. So, Nigeria needs to focus on creating policies that would help the youth in the country.