Nigeria’s population statistics are scary and future projections, frightful. It was 140m at the last count in 2016, it has climbed to 200m in 2019 and expected to double to about 400m by 2050, no thanks to a high fertility rate of between 2.5% and 2.5%. A global site demographic site Worldometers.info, puts the national population at 203,021,855 as of November 25, 2019, equivalent to 2.61% of the total world population, ranking it the highest in Africa and 7th globally.
Nigeria’s population has been rising in leaps and bounds, and this was not matched with economic growth, exacerbating poverty in the progress. At independence in 1960, Nigeria’s population was 45m, 55m in 1970, 73m in 1980, 95m in 1990, 122m in 2000, 158m in 2010, and now above 200m. Nigeria’s population at the present growth rate is expected to shoot to 262m by 2030, 329m by 2040. In 2050, Nigeria population will rise to 401m displacing United States and China as the 3rd most populous country in the world.
The average population density is widely believed to be over 200 people per kilometre out of which Lagos has the highest population density of about 2607 people according to 2006 census. It is also predicted by 2050, 77 per cent of Nigeria’s population will be urban, up from the current 51% residing in mega cities such as Lagos, Benin, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, and Sokoto.
Just as corruption is a national signpost, Nigerians are also very fertile reproducing. Birth rates that was 1.9% in 1960 rose to 2.6% in 2019. Every second, the nation records 4 births, adding about 20,000 Nigerians to the landmass every day.
Are poor people more prolific in reproducing? This seems to be the case, when one considers that countries with the highest fertility rates in the world are all in Africa- the poorest continent. Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world leads the pack, followed by war torn Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Uganda, and Nigeria
Ironically, the lowest fertility rates are in developed countries such as South Korea, Spain, Japan, and United States where households have relatively higher disposable incomes. In several countries of the North, death rates have outpaced birth rates, national population are shrinking, and towns in Spain are become desolate due to low population.
The fastest shrinking population according to United Nations are in Eastern Europe-Bulgaria, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, Croatia, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, Poland, Hungary. The population are expected to shrink by 15% or more by 2050.
Why is Nigeria’s population rising sporadically over the years? Reasons include cultural factors that support early marriages, preference for male child causing continuous procreation in search for a boy, extended family system that encourages large families, and traditional expectations for child bearing; religious beliefs that support polygamy and prohibits contraception even among married and encourages dependence on God rather than personal incomes to sustain families; low literacy rates negatively affecting uptake of sex education, population education, health education and reproductive health education; and economic factors fostering dependence on children for old age security.
Nigeria is a big child factory and the girl child is the greatest victim. girlsnotbrides.org/ campaign in Nigeria reports ‘that 44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 18% are married before the age of 15. According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the third highest absolute number of child brides in the world – 3,538,000 – and the 11th highest prevalence rate of child marriage globally. Child marriage is most common in the North West and North East of Nigeria, where 68% and 57% of women aged 20-49 were married before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is particularly common among Nigeria’s poorest, rural households and the Hausa ethnic group. A 2017 World Bank study estimates that child marriage costs Nigeria USD7.6 billion in lost earnings and productivity every year’.