31 March 2001

Nigeria: New Population Policy for Nigeria Soon

Lagos, Nigeria — Experts have started work on a new population policy for Nigeria to replace the current one which has been in existence for over a decade.

A draft copy of the policy is being fine-tuned by the experts who met at Ijebu-Ode, near Lagos, this week under the aegis of the Population Working Group.

The group was set up by the Community Development and Population Activities Division of the Federal Ministry of Health.

The thrust of the new policy is to improve standards of living and quality of life, promote maternal, child and reproductive health, achieve a lower rate of population growth and address the question of internal migration and population distribution.

"Because of many years of military rule, protracted political instability and the withdrawal of international development assistance, little progress took place in implementing the 1988 policy", a preamble of the draft reads.

"The commitment of government to improve the quality of life of Nigerian poppulation is witnessed in the series of development and rolling plans it has embarked upon since 1960," it says.

The document notes that the government recognises the intricacy of population-development relationships and the importance of population factors to national development.

"In spite of previous efforts, poverty persists among a large proportion of the Nigerian people. At the national level, the socio-economic life is not inspiring: private sector enterprises are heavily hindered while workers in the public sector are poorly remunerated."

According to the preamble, due to poor implementation of the policy, there is high rate of unemployment and under-employment, while the low per capita income denies many people access to quality health care, especially in rural areas.

Further justifying the revision, the draft notes that in recent times, HIV/AIDS has further constrained efforts to improve the quality of life of the people.

The new policy is expected to include the wide-ranging recommendations made after the International Conference on Population and Development, held in 1994 in Cairo.

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