Following growing concern on the increasing population of Nigeria, health experts and stakeholders have mounted pressure on the federal government to fulfill its commitment to invest about USD $8.35 million on family planning.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on the forthcoming annual population lecture series, President of the Association of Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), Prof. Oladipo Ladapo said government's lack of commitment has a negative effect, which has resulted to population explosion in the country.
"The federal government has to show commitment by fulfilling the $8.35 million it pledged at the London Summit, that way, family planning programmes will be effectively implemented," he said.
While explaining the rationale for government to fulfill its commitment, Ladapo maintained that, "the primary reason is to enable women space their birth, reduce infant and maternal mortality."
He also deplored the argument that family planning is an imported western culture, meant to reduce population of developing countries, stressing that, "family planning is not an imported culture."
Executive Director, African Region, MacArthur Foundation, Dr. Kole Shettima observed that a discreet implementation of family planning would not only bring about demographic dividends and economic benefits, but also create a "window of opportunity for rapid economic growth."
Shettima reiterated the need for stakeholders to show more commitment to the family planning course as the current situation portend great danger for the country.
"Nigeria's population is currently estimated at 177.1 million. This represents an increase from 88.9 million in 1991 to 140 million in 2006 and is expected to reach 221 million by 2020," he said.
He warned that failure to achieve demographic dividends, mainly, through child spacing, the country runs the risk of encountering population explosion with its attendant consequence.
"For Nigeria to achieve demographic dividend within the next two decades, it must first of all focus on managing its population growth by consciously and deliberately expanding access to and use of voluntary child spacing," Shettima said.
Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other dignitaries are expected to present papers at the population lecture slated for next week in Abuja. The lecture focuses on the effects of population explosion, family planning, demographic dividends and the prospect of economic growth and development.