The British Government says Nigeria’s population growth poses a security risk if it remains unchecked.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, said this in Abuja at an event organised by Wilton Park in collaboration with the African Peace Building Network of the Social Science Research Council and African Leadership Centre of the Kings College London.
The envoy said if Nigeria’s population growth was not checked, the number of persons living in the country before the end of the century might be as high as 900 million.
According to Arkwright, the current birth rate of five to seven children per woman could imply more out-of-school children and more competition for scarce resources.
He said, “The biggest threat for Nigeria is around the demographic. Everyone talks about the demographic dividend and I firmly believe that is a possibility but there is a scenario of a demographic disaster.
“And that is a scenario where a large number of young people, young children even more than currently are out of school. It is a scenario where girls do not get the education they deserve. It is a scenario where the current birth rate continues at six to seven children per woman.
“And that is a scenario where there are not 450 million Nigerians by 2050 but 900 million Nigerians by the end of the century who may not have enough to eat and may not have power or jobs and if peace building is looking into the future, the long term, I think this issue of demography should be looked at.”
Arkwright said experts focused on peace-building should ensure that demography is looked into deeply.
He said the British Government would continue to support Nigeria in combating terrorism even as he revealed that the UK had trained over 25,000 troops in how to fight Boko Haram.
Arkwright added, “Some of the areas we are focusing on here in Nigeria are around good governance, around anti-corruption, economic prosperity and how do we improve the business environment. They are around insecurity.
“The UK has trained over 25,000 Nigerian troops in fighting Boko Haram in the North-East. The UK is working with France and the US to provide intelligence so that Boko Haram does not succeed. We are encouraging British companies to invest in Nigeria because ultimately, the UK will continue to strongly support Nigeria.”
He said despite the current negotiations on Brexit, the UK Government was still focused on ensuring prosperity for Africa even as he revealed that the UK looked at and agreed on a new revised African strategy which had been endorsed by the National Security Council.