Demographic Dividend: VP Calls For Deliberate planning, policy Formulation, Implementation
Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, says deliberate planning, police formulation and commitments to policy implementation hold the answers to increased investments in Nigeria’s population.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this at the closing of a 2-Days’ forum organized by the United Nations’ Population Fund, (UNFPA) to enhance the capacity of Muslim Religious Leaders to advocate , support policies and programme that will contribute to accelerating the process of harnessing Demographic Dividend in Nigeria.
“Achieving demographic dividend requires sustainable multi-sectorial investments in health, education, young people, employment, women and girls, trade and industry, economic growth, and governance.
He called on religious leaders to support government’s effort in job creation, providing economic opportunities, education, healthcare, hope and optimism.
Vice President, observed that Nigeria would seat on a demographic time-bomb unless critical stakeholders support government’s effort at building an economy that will support the nation’s fast-growing population.
He said heads of families at the micro-level and government at the macro-level must prioritise the education and health of families.
Addressing the role of Muslim religious leaders, Prof. Osinbajo, who urged them to engage in discussions with their minds devoid of prejudice, emphasized that they remain the voices of change in ensuring improved maternal and newborn health, early child marriage, girl-child education amongst other roles.
“Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has remained high over the last three decades and currently stand at 5.5 births per woman; modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPRm) is very low at 10 per cent with 16 per cent unmet need for Family Planning (FP).
“Twenty-three percent of our adolescents (ages 15-19 years) have commenced childbearing and Child Marriage still persists at 18 percent. “These figures vary across the North and the South, for example, TFR is lowest in the South West (4.5) and highest in the North East (6.3) and North West (6.7), respectively with Bauchi at 8.1 and Sokoto at 7.0.
“To avoid the time-bomb scenario, we must act with urgency to build an economy that can support that population, provide jobs and economic opportunity, education, and healthcare, hope and optimism.” To that end,
“We have now employed directly under Npower programme 500,000 graduates and we are given micro credits to over two million petty traders in every state of Nigeria. We are also targeting our cash transfer to over 400,000 of the poorest Nigerian farmers.”
The President of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Shehu Salihu, warned against blanket and indiscriminate containment of procreation.
Prof. Salihu stressed the need for the society to deemphasize protected sex and rather emphasized morality and chastity among young people.
United Nations-Resident Coordinator, Edward Kallon, called on the religious leaders to brainstorm on how Nigeria could take advantage of her population.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole pledged government’s continued collaboration with the UNFPA in harnessing Nigeria’s demographic dividends in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNFPA and other numerous partners is calling on all religious leaders to help in making the change that would translate into positive contribution to Nigeria’s economic development through investment in Youths and Young people that will fast track our harnessing the Demographic Dividend”. he said.
According to Prof. Adewole available data indicated that working with religious leaders to improve maternal, new born and child health was an important cost effective and sustainable strategy for disseminating information on Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) across a large population.
On his part ,the UNFPA Regional Director West and Central Africa, Mr. Mabinggue Ngoma represented by Acting Country Reps, UNFPA, Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy said religious leaders needed to provide information, counseling, guidance to groups and individuals, as the most important personalities in the societies .
According to Mr. Ngoma the information provided by religious leaders saved as moral frame work for the demand of social services, such as healthcare, education amongst others .