Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 23, 2012

Domestic challenges for Nigeria

In a country where the government seems on the verge of being unable to deal with things as they are, changes will bring major new challenges.

 Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population
In a quarter-century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people — a population about as big as that of the present-day United States — will live in a country the size of Arizona and New Mexico…
As graduates pour out of high schools and universities, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is nearly 50 percent for people in urban areas ages 15 to 24 — driving crime and discontent.
The growing upper-middle class also feels the squeeze, as commutes from even nearby suburbs can run two to three hours…
Across sub-Saharan Africa, alarmed governments have begun to act, often reversing longstanding policies that encouraged or accepted large families. Nigeria made contraceptives free last year, and officials are promoting smaller families as a key to economic salvation, holding up the financial gains in nations like Thailand as inspiration…
“Population is key,” said Peter Ogunjuyigbe, a demographer at Obafemi Awolowo University in the small central city of Ile-Ife. “If you don’t take care of population, schools can’t cope, hospitals can’t cope, there’s not enough housing — there’s nothing you can do to have economic development.”
The Nigerian government is rapidly building infrastructure but cannot keep up, and some experts worry that it, and other African nations, will not act forcefully enough to rein in population growth. For two decades, the Nigerian government has recommended that families limit themselves to four children, with little effect…
In the ramshackle towns of the Oriade area near Ile-Ife, where streets are lined with stalls selling prepaid cellphone cards and food like pounded yam, Dr. Ogunjuyigbe’s team goes door to door studying attitudes toward family size and how it affects health and wealth. Many young adults, particularly educated women, now want two to four children. But the preferences of men, particularly older men, have been slower to change — crucial in a patriarchal culture where polygamy is widespread...

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