Women and youth population unutilized — UNFPA

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By Dotun Ibiwoye

THE constantly increasing population of Nigeria has not shown any signs of becoming an asset at the moment, according to United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.

Head of UNFPA, Lagos Liaison Office, Dr. Omolaso Omosehin, who made this disclosure noted that fertility rate is still high in the country, even in some states in the south, while contraceptive prevalence rate or contraceptive use, is still very low at about 10-16 per cent.

Speaking at the Centre for Public Policy Alternatives, 21st Century Challenges summit on Population issues, at the Lagos Court of Arbitration, Lekki, Lagos, Omosehin noted that unemployment is still very high among the youths and prospects of this improving in the near future are very slim. He affirmed that a lot of young people were getting educated, but many of them will be thrown into an already over-stressed job market, and a good majority will not become entrepreneurs because either they lack the training or the capital or both to become one.

The UNFPA boss also stated that there was no deliberate government policy in place to adequately cater for job creation for the youth. Justice and Equity is a mirage and corruption is still endemic in the system.

According to him, foreign investors are in Nigeria to make profit primarily, and many of them have their own national interests at heart, not that of Nigeria.

Noting that they too will want to create jobs for their own people as well, he said, “The Federal government needs to enforce the policy that requires that a certain percentage of the work-force of international organizations are Nigerians; if not, we may begin to experience capital flight instead of economic development. Job creation for the youths cannot be over-emphasized. Let us have more vocational institutes that give quality training and certificates: the presence of these set of people (skilled labour) gives confidence to foreign and local investors.

“Let us have more investments in agricultural and make efforts to add value to our agricultural produce by creating cottage industries and farm settlements; let youth associations be formed that can access soft loans from the government and non-government institutions like Bank of industry, Bank of Agriculture, etc. The population trend is not showing any signs of becoming an asset at the moment. Fertility rate is still high – even in some states in the south, and contraceptive prevalence rate, contraceptive use, is still very low at about 10-16 per cent.

“It is possible to have a successful census if we stop politicizing the exercise. Other issues that will contribute to its success include good planning, creating awareness among the general populace and adequate funding. We need time and resources to plan, and it is high time we start to deploy the use of technology to get things done in Nigeria. Everything is possible if there is a strong will to do the right things the right way and at the right time.”

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