The United States government yesterday warned that Nigeria’s projected 40 million population by 2050 would put pressure on the nation’s economy and worsen the prevalent poverty in the land.
The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria, David Young, who was interacting with members of the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Fellows at Government House, Kaduna, urged the Federal Government and other stakeholders to brace up for the challenge.
He feared that if ill managed, the situation would create more problems than opportunities for the nation in future.
Specifically, the envoy expressed worry that the doubling of the population during the year in question may come without commensurate amenities and human capital to sustain it, thus becoming a challenge.
On the way forward, the American said government must focus on human capital development, health, education and curbing corruption to the barest minimum.
He said: “We are in Kaduna to speak to young people who are the future leaders of the country. As we have discussed, the issue in 2050 for Nigeria are both opportunities and challenges particularly with the great population that is coming. By then, the nation will have over 400 million people.
“I think it is very important you start investing in the young people, the future leaders are really important. I think also that all Nigerians recognise that addressing the issue of corruption is very important to free up the funds to be invested on education, health and the future leaders of this country.”
In his remarks, Governor Nasir El-Rufai said his administration was mindful of the rising population growth, hence it had started introducing sustainable policies and programmes to develop human capital and infrastructure.
According to him, “I think the leadership of the country is aware. I can only speak for Kaduna State.”
He continued: As the ambassador pointed out, what is important in taking advantage of this demographic explosion is investment in human capital, education and healthcare. And we are doing that in Kaduna State.
“It is part of the reasons we took some very difficult decisions to improve public education at the primary and secondary school levels. There is nothing bad about having a huge population provided they are educated, healthy and productive.
“China is doing very well despite its huge population. So, we don’t see it as a problem provided we do the right thing. And in Kaduna State, we are doing the right thing.”