Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Another aspect to an important cleavage

Language, heritage, religion, location, and cultural traditions are aspects of Nigeria's cleavages. Here's another.

The problems of family planning in Nigeria
NOT everyone thinks birth control is a blessing. Boko Haram, a jihadist group that terrorises north-eastern Nigeria, deems artificial contraception to be a product of infidel learning, and therefore forbidden…

Even outside those areas, contraception is controversial… Many Nigerian Muslims believe that pills and condoms are part of a Western plot to stop Muslims from multiplying. And in poor, rural areas centuries of experience have taught people that having lots of children makes economic sense…

So the government in Kaduna, a majority-Muslim state north of the capital, Abuja, does not encourage people to have fewer children. That would be politically toxic. But it does offer free contraception, and suggest that women might wish to pause between pregnancies. It also promotes girls’ education—something that has caused fertility rates to fall more or less everywhere it has been tried…

No one knows how many Nigerians there are. The World Bank says there were 182m in 2015, but this estimate is based on the 2006 census, which was probably inflated (politicians typically exaggerate the count to grab more parliamentary seats and government money for their regions)…

To be prosperous as well as populous, Nigeria needs to educate its people better. This would also curb population growth, since well-schooled women tend to have fewer babies…

Most girls in the programme will finish secondary school and delay childbirth (previous cohorts wed an average of 2.5 years later than peers)…

Within Nigerian Islam, a debate rages between modernisers and obscurantists. The former may be winning. Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano and a senior Muslim leader, has spoken out against child marriage, and proposes a legal minimum age (there is currently none) of 18…

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