President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the graduates of the NIPSS Senior Executive Course 42 that his administration will implement the 12-point recommendations on Population Growth and Human Capital Development in Nigeria.
The President, who was represented by the Governor, Plateau State, Mr lSimon Bako Lalong, disclosed this during the graduation ceremony of the 77 delegates of the Senior Executive Course 42 which took place on 12th December 2020. Despite the disputations caused to the work of government by Covid-19, NIPSS put in place stringent infection prevention protocols over the last 1-year, to ensure that the deep analytical work of the 77 delegates was not adversely affected and they completed investigations into policy interaction and implications of Nigeria’s dynamic population growth for the country’s human capital development.
NIPSS was supported by the development Research and Project’s Center (dRPC) to access practitioner’s expertise and cutting-edge experiences from the field through interactions with leaders of civil society advocacy organizations under the PACFaH@Scale project. In the Nigerian policy analysis space, NIPSS holds the unique position as the only think tank at national or state levels using broad-based consultative approaches covering all geopolitical zones of the country and multiple stakeholders, including civil society through its long standing collaboration with the dRPC.
In his speech at the occasion of the Graduation Ceremony, Director-General of the National Institute, Professor Habu Galadima, revealed that Nigeria is currently in a demographic crisis, characterized by a phenomenally high rate of out of school children; youth bulge in the population pyramid; high dependency ratio; as well as high unemployment – all driven by high population growth rates. This demographic crisis is contributing to intensified conflicts over resources, to the nation’s growing insecurity, violence and youth restiveness.
In his words – ‘’Nigeria’s population is growing at 3.2 per cent every year, which translates to an additional 6.7 million persons annually, making it one of the highest in the world. As at 2019, 86.7 per cent of Nigerians depend on others to survive, meaning that only 27.9 million people out of about 210 million are productive.’’
This demographic crisis, according to him, is further compounded by inadequate attention given to the components of human capital development over the years, which include health and wellbeing, education and skills development as well as expansion of per capita income and the gross domestic product.
To address this situation, the SEC 42 asked the President to approve the revised National Population Policy 2019 and ensure effective implementation of the policy. Some of the other recommendations of the 2020 SEC delegates are – the implementation of a wholistic and integrated approach to population growth and human capital development in Nigeria.
Reporting out in the context of Covid-19 delegates accorded particular attention to the health sector. Delegates noted that access to basic health care in the country still remains a challenge with about 74 per cent out of pocket expenditure. They also noted 132 out of every 1,000 children born in Nigeria are not likely to live up to five years and that Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world.
Against this background, Professor Galadima in his address to the Graduating delegates of SEC 42 noted that: ‘’Family Planning is important for the management of Nigeria’s population and it also plays a vital role in the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity. It remains one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent maternal, infant, and child mortality. It can reduce maternal mortality by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, the number of abortions, and the proportion of births at high risk. Family Planning offers a host of additional health, social, and economic benefits; it can help promote gender equality, reduce poverty, accelerate socioeconomic development, and protect the environment.’’
Also noted was the fact that: ’The recently launched Nigeria Family Planning Blueprint 2020-24 presents a strategic opportunity with a broad well-articulated strategy that holistically addresses gaps in provision of high-quality FP services. The new FP Blueprint represents the determination of the government of Nigeria and also an opportunity to move from demographic crisis to demographic dividends if implemented at national and subnational levels.’’
Following an exhaustive study on the theme from the senior executive course period, the participants recommended that various options as necessary if the nation is to improve its population growth through family planning
The overarching call and policy recommendation of SEC 42 was summed up by the DG NIPSS when he said: ‘’ We urge the NPC to engage Governors forum on effective implementation of the National Population Policy 2019 not later than third quarter 2021. They, along with the Federal Ministry of Health, should collaborate with the NOA to create awareness and targeted advocacy for the social and behavioural change on population issues continuously from the 2021 to 2024’’ Delegates of SEC 42 also asked all states and local governments in Nigeria to ensure effective implementation of the NPP 2019 beginning from the second quarter 2021, while calling on government at all levels to ensure effective implementation of the Family Planning Blueprint 2020-24.
Delegates of SEC 42 issued strong data-driven and trend-analysis informed words of caution at the end of the one-year study. They noted that the imbalance between Nigeria’s high population growth and the country’s low position on human capital development index, makes it imperative for government to invest, urgently, in Family Planning so that Nigeria’s population of today and tomorrow can benefit from health, education, social security and other forms human capital investments required for stability and sustainable development.