Speaking during the inauguration of Chairman and Commissioners of the National Population Commission, NPC, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the President said a bill may soon be sponsored at the National Assembly which will seek to ensure birth control in the country.
Jonathan called for programmes aimed at encouraging “Nigerians to have the number of children they can manage,” and signaled that government policies could be adopted in the future.
However, the president foresees religious resistance to this proposition and therefore warns that Nigerians should not oppose this bill on religious grounds as it is for the good of all.
According to him, “For us to plan properly, we must manage our population, but it is extremely sensitive, we are extremely religious people, either you are a Christian or Moslem… and even traditionalists believe that children are God’s gifts to man, so it is difficult for you to tell any Nigerian to limit the number of their children because they are gifts of God”.
The president also touched on the very crucial issue of education – the inadequacy of it – as a possible reason for the population problems the country is facing:
“Sometimes you get to somebody’s house living in a well furnished duplex. The husband and wife there may have two, three four children. The maiguard guiding them have nine children. That is the scenario you have. That means there is a segment of the population that knows that you must get a number that you can manage but the other segment of the population don’t”.
Therefore, the president has assured that the law will be preceded by a period of intensive sensitization of the public on the advantages of birth control.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest country when it comes to population, with around 160 million people, and the UN estimates it could grow to around 400 million by 2050.