The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Monday advised Nigeria to fight high fertility, maternal mortality rate and migration problem to end poverty and boost prosperity in the country.
The UNFPA Country Representative, Ms Diene Keita, gave the advice at the 5th Annual Population Lecture Series (APLS) with the theme: “Achieving Demographic Dividend: Strategic Tool for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Development’’ in Abuja.
Represented by Mr Osaretin Adonri, the Assistant Country Representative of UNFPA in Nigeria, Keita said that if Nigeria wants to tackle poverty, enhance prosperity and promote sustainable growth as envisaged in Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, it was of prime necessity to address diverse population issues.
She said that problems including high fertility, high maternal mortality rate, migration and the special issue of youth development must be addressed.
“The theme of this year’s lecture is in line with the African Union Road Map on harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in Youth and the country’s roadmap on harnessing Demographic Dividend through Investment in Youth launched in July 2017.
“It is relevant to the Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020), which in recognition of the risk factor of the high population growth rate in Nigeria prescribed the integration of population dynamics in development programmes.
“With a large population of young people accounting for 31.7% of the population, the country should urgently generate a large number of productive jobs for the growing working-age population.
“Also there is the need to adopt a strong social welfare system for the aged which will in the near future contribute substantially to the dependent population.
“The country must implement appropriate policies on small families, and capital inflow to grow the manufacturing bases and consumer markets, especially to support investment and employment growth in order to take advantage of its demographic situations for sustainable development,” she said.
However, the UN official lauded the federal government through the National Population Commission and other partners for their hard work, consistency and collaboration in ensuring the success of this year’s lecture.
She appealed to policy makers and programme managers to make the best use of knowledge about population issues at the APLS and similar opportunities for development planning; ensuring that policies and programmes were guided by data on population issues.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of Advocacy Nigeria, Hajiya Saudatu Sani, said that the time of planning on the management of Nigerian population was over and it was now time for implementation.
Sani also urged the government to invest in the youth, women and girl child education to achieving demographic dividend.
The gender advocate advised the government to adopt the model used in China where there was a huge investment on the youth for sustainable development.
“Nigeria must do that now, the time of planning is over, it is time to implement and government must do that now to fight poverty,” she said.