BENIN CITY – Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has called for urgent action to curb Nigeria’s population growth.
The Governor made the appeal during a courtesy visit by Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr Natalia Kanem, to Government House, Benin City.
He said: “For me, one of the main risks we face in Nigeria, both as a benefit and as a key risk factor, is our people. If we do nothing to control our population growth, there will be a huge gap between our ability to reduce the growth rate and our development.
“Yes, we could turn the 200 million plus people we have today into a huge economic asset if we manage this growth. If we don’t and let it grow without proper planning, we will continue to catch up for decades to come.
“For us in government, this is a great risk that we must now start to manage and implement our actions. We believe in what you do. From this starting point, we believe in what you are doing and we will need some guidance and support to ensure that this issue becomes a priority on the agenda. “
“Right now, he’s not taking the place he should be in our conversations about our development. One of the roles that we look forward to and hope you will help us play is simply to put this debate on our population control on the agenda, ”he added.
The governor noted: “For us in Edo it is about our people. It’s about capacity, education and health, which are the foundation. We have strengthened our basic education. Children are learning now, our teachers are motivated and there are significant results in our learning process.
“We are promoting the same model in our healthcare space. Thank you very much for the push to manufacture vaccines. It is so important. As a country, we need to build our capacity. The pandemic will be with us for a while. We cannot continue to be dependent.
“We need help doing our own subnational census. We have just started a 30-year planning process. We cannot do socio-economic planning, as well as our physical and urban planning without data. While working on the national population census, we also need to start our own census along with our planning process, ”Obaseki said.
Previously, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNPF Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem congratulated the governor on establishing a special tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of gender-based violence in the state.