President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the Revised National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development, stressing the need for urgent measures to address Nigeria’s high fertility rate, through expanding access to modern contraceptive methods nationwide.
He, also, on Thursday, inaugurated the National Council on Population Management (NCPM), chaired by him and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as deputy chairm with heads of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as members in Abuja.
On the document, Buhari said its overall goal was to improve the quality of life and standards of living of all Nigerians, being one of the major aspirations of the current administration.
“The policy emphasises the urgency to address Nigeria’s sustained high fertility rate, through expanding access to modern family planning, counselling and commodities, as well as promote births’ spacing.
This will enable Nigeria to achieve rapid fertility control, improve the health of women, adolescents, new born and children and other population groups,” he said.
The President noted that the nation’s populace, the largest in Africa and seventh globally and among the few whose fertility was still growing, was hinged on a youthful composition, with more than 72 per cent of them being below 30 years, while a half of the female inhabitants were in their reproductive years between15 and 49 years.
On other highlights of the plan, the Nigerian leader explained the importance of investing in quality education of young people, particularly girls, human capital development and
advancing holistic efforts to achieve significant demographic transition.
Noting that the implementation of the policy would require credible, reliable, timely, robust, geo-referenced and well disaggregated data, the President expressed confidence that the information to be generated from the forthcoming census would be helpful to the project.
Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Isa Kwarra, urged Nigerians to embrace the noble planned parenthood and healthy reproductive behaviours captured by the policy.
He submitted the new strategy was a product of extensive consultations and nationwide engagements with key stakeholders and interest groups cutting sectoral ministries at national and state levels, civil society organisations, development partners, researchers, the media and the organised private sector.
The NPC chairman said the NCPM was key to the implementation of the policy, noting: “In addition to providing strategic direction in the implementation process, the council will hopefully advocate for and support the conduct of the population and housing census, thus providing accurate and up-to-date data to guide the implementation of the policy.”
In his goodwill message, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, expressed the hope that the plan was bound to be successful for several reasons.
He said: First, the policy brings to the forefront the linkages between population and development, and will inform work and services to improve the well-being and lives of Nigerians.
Second, the policy is coming on the heels of the recently launched 2021-2025 National Development Plan, which focuses on making Nigeria the greatest economy in Africa and even more of a force to reckon with in the world.
Third, the successful implementation of the national policy will very likely have positive implications for maternal health development, youth and adolescent rights and the empowerment of women and the girl child.”
The UN official pledged that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is responsible for providing support for the generation of quality data, would continue to work with the NPC to ensure that the upcoming headcount meets local and international standards.