The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma has called for strong measures to moderate the rapid rate of population growth in the country.
Mr James Akpadem, Special Adviser on Media to the minister said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja at the end of the 58th Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
According to him, current estimates suggest that more than four million people are being added to the country’s population every year.
Udoma compared the figure to the population of many large cities in the world.
He said it had become imperative to better manage the rate of population growth for the country to fully achieve the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
While citing the China example, the minister said managing population growth was an important part of any strategy to achieve sustainable economic development.
He said his ministry and the Ministry of Health had been given the responsibility by Strategy 46 of the ERGP to develop policies to help manage the country’s rate of population growth.
“Let me say, so that I am not misunderstood, that I am not suggesting that we consider taking measures as drastic as the ones China implemented.
“But it is important to sensitise Nigerians that we will have to find ways to better manage our rate of population growth if we are to fully achieve the objectives of the ERGP,” he said.
He explained that when the ERGP was fully implemented, Nigeria would achieve a GDP growth rate of at least seven per cent.
Udoma reiterated that the plan would ensure macroeconomic stability, while expanding agricultural production to achieve food security.
“It will also invest in transportation infrastructure; ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; and drive industrialisation through the SMEs.
The minister said, in spite of still being in its early period of implementation, the ERGP had started to record some important successes.
He said such successes included the exit of the country from recession and the growth of the non-oil sector, which grew by 2.05 per cent.
Other successes, he said, were decline in inflation rate, increased external reserves, narrow gap of exchange rate, increased capital inflows and growth of the Nigerian Stock market.
He expressed confidence that with full implementation of the strategies in the ERGP, the desired sustainable development in the country would be achieved.
The minister commended the management of the NBA for the good work they had been doing for the association.