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Procreation in Nigeria: An open letter to every “Mr and Mrs”

I am writing this open letter, sitting on a couch in the three-bedroom apartment of a retired civil servant who had used his youthful mental and physical strength to serve the country in the then Lagos State Ministry of Urban and Regional Planning. Engineer Jendo, as we his neighbors fondly call him, are already used to regularly visiting the household of the old retiree. Here is already a striving family of seven mature adults excluding parents and the potentiality of another pregnant young lady to be taken in as second wife by this same Engr Jendo. It is either we are called upon to help settle a quarel with Mrs Olanike, his wife or to remind his under-employed graduates that they have no other father-figure to make their confidant especially, one who still shoulders virtually all family expenses for that matter.

While some Nigerians may have decided to live in the fantasy world of their own self-denial. And some who might as well, decided to be more selfish and less nationalistic in their thinking, attitude and deeds in the coming year. It is expedient at this time to remind people to eschew all manner of self-centredness. So, I imagine myself writing from the inside of your mind. It is your idea and the writer is only doing the job of putting thoughts down on black and white. The issue in discourse is not alien to us as Nigerians. It is no other but child proliferation or to be called subtly, child procreation which is a very common practice among people below the middle class of the society.

It is an issue that everyone, irrespective of their ethnic and religious affiliations must be willing to address and reach a compromise for the good of all and sundry. Expectedly, governments at all levels should be seen taking the lead by consistently sensitizing the public or come up with a legislation to legalize and give a somehow holistic position of this fundamental issue but surprisingly, it is being handled with levity. And if we fail to deal with it now as other countries have started doing, it will deal with us ruthlessly – in very near future. No time is as critical as now!

As sweet and heavens-reaching pleasure a 10-minute sexual activity can be, it equally has the sole capacity of causing far-reaching dangers for the country and depriving us the minimum standards of living expected of normal human beings in any working society, if that activity lacks adequate planning from the beginning. A country of about 200 million people where a citizen lives on less than three dollar a day and running year in year out on a period of deficit national budget with no visible state-of-the-art social infrastructural amenities in sight should not be seen celebrating unnecessary and unjustifiable population increase the way we do in this country. As people , we should introspect and begin to be proactive rather than search for solutions after seeing problems grow wings. We can in our little ways, start to change the navigation through which the undesirable journey the Nigerian socio-economic ship is heading. We should make this a top priority from now on. We cannot continue to increase in number with no corresponding infrastructure to match the geometrically- growing figure.

Let’s go a bit further: In the 2020 financial budget that was signed recently, the Federal Government proposed that about one-third of the country’s expected spending would go into capital projects namely education, health, road and rail construction and their maintenance, power generation, housing etc, these being the only section of the budget that will have direct impact on the lives of the people next year; any further expenditure on such capital projects can only be made in supplementary budgets which is rare in our polity except for unforeseen contigencies like security and environmental emergencies. Public spending on these cases are again, subject to the approvals of the National Assembly. So if we are contemplating on increasing our family sizes by bringing in new wives or attempting to still multiply (using some people’s shallow understanding of the Bible) for no tangible reason, so many other right-thinking Nigerians are begging. Please, have a rethink!

According to WHO in its 2018 world health rankings on global life expectancy, Nigeria is placed 178th among countries whose citizens can expect quality elongated life span. In addition to this report, a Nigerian boy- child born in that year is expected to live for about 54 years and his female counterpart would live about two years older, 55.7 years. Life expectancy is a statistical measure that uses certain factors like the year a child is born, its current age and other demographic data including gender. For those born between 1970 and 2000, life expectancy of a Nigerian baby was averaged 45.4, yet some of us in this fragile cycle live very irresponsibly. Even if we are desirous of an elongated life, our lifestyles would not. In meeting domestic needs, we live and grow with the stress, hustle and bustle found in a city. Emission of toxic gaseous substances emanating from left, right and centre in the industrial city we live in, also would not. Yet we keep on multiplying offspring when we do not have substantial reasons to justify our parochial decisions.

Nigeria’s resources and social amenities, from time immemorial are never sufficient and there is no end in sight yet to correct the deficiency. However, if the figure of the users of those facilities is put in check, resources available can conveniently and adequately satisfy the people to use. Pressure on these projects will be lower thereby reducing the cost of maintaining them as well. There are limitless purposes of our creation by the Almighty, of which I want to believe is not just to come into the world and multiply. No purpose can be more essential than serving Him and leaving the world better than we met it.

 

 

It should not always be the more the merrier!!!!!

 

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Kolawole Ganiyu

Kola is an Economics graduate of University of Ibadan. He derives pleasure in fictional writings and contemporary articles arising from keen observation of events - political and socio-cultural.

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