The United Nations and National Population Commission, NPC, yesterday, disagreed over Nigeria’s current population figure.
While the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, in its 2019 state of the world population report said the country’s population has hit a new high of 201 million, the NPC said the UN’s figure was a mere assumption.
However, UNFPA in its report, said Nigeria’s growth rate had been at an average of 2.6 per cent from 2010 to 2019.
According to the report, the fertility rate among Nigerian women has dropped from 6.4 in 1969 to 5.3 in 2019; this means an average Nigerian woman gives birth to at least five children.
Similarly, the UNFPA said global fertility rate, or the average number of births per woman stood at 4.8 in 1969; 2.9 in 1994; and 2.5 in 2019.
The report said contraceptive prevalence rate among Nigerian women aged 15-49 was only 19 per cent, adding that decision making on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights among these women had averaged at 51 per cent between 2007 and 2018.
‘’This means 49 per cent of Nigerian women still do not have the power to decide on their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,’’ the report said.
The UN agency estimated that Nigeria’s population has grown from 54.7 million in 1969 to 105.4 million in 1994 and 201.0 million in 2019.
The report noted that of this 201 million, 44 per cent or 88.44 million were between the ages of 0 and 14, while 32 per cent, representing 64.32 million, were within the ages of 10 and 24.
“Reproductive rights are still out of reach for too many women, including the more than 200 million women who want to prevent a pregnancy but cannot access modern contraceptive information and services.
“Ultimately, almost all of the 4.3 billion people of reproductive age around the world today will have had inadequate access to sexual and reproductive health services at some point,’’ it revealed further.
In 1969 world population reached 3.6 billion, up about 1 billion from only 17 years earlier, leading to the establishment of UNFPA.
The UN agency has succeeded in reducing fertility rates worldwide by about 50 per cent.
In the least developed countries, fertility was about six births per woman in 1969.
But countering the UNFPA figure, the Director in charge of Census in the NPC, Usman Kolapo, said yesterday that the figure was based on mere projections arising from the 2006 census conducted by Nigeria.
He said: “The fact is that the figure is not as high as that but it is close to it. The UN is just using the basis of the 2006 census to arrive at the figure, taking into account both birth and death rates, apparently using high variant of calculation, which could arrive at that figure.
“But if you use the medium or low variant of calculation of birth and death rates, the figure cannot be up to that. If we had a census, we would have known our true population. We cannot categorically say that our population is up to 201 million.’’