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    Posted September 19, 2011 by
    Abuja, Nigeria
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Boot camp: Editing your story

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    Week 6: Editing my population story




    Introduction: Population boom without supporting infrastructure as a recipe for disaster




    A: Nigeria is 32nd largest in area and 8th most populous


    1)Population on the rise since 1950

    2)Urbanization of most Nigerian cities

    3)Population of Abuja steadily growing


    B: Rapid urbanization of Abuja has not come without a price

    1)Rise in criminal activities

    2)Congestion and overcrowding

    3)Environmental issues

    4)Commercial activities attract unscrupulous characters


    C: Necessary that control mechanisms are put in place


    1)Mass orientation of illiterate masses on the need for child planning

    2)Need for government to provide adequate infrastructure

    3)Develop satellite towns to decongest cities




    According to wikipedia, Nigeria is said to be the 32nd largest in area (923768km), and ironically, also the 7th most populous with about 70% of its citizens living below poverty line. The population of Nigeria has always been on the increase. According to U.N world population prospects (2008), the population of Nigeria in 1950 was 36, 680, 000, but in 2010, it had grown to 158, 259,000. Even then, the accuracy of these estimates can be called into question because as a Nigerian, I am aware that illiteracy, and religious or cultural convictions make it difficult for the government to have a clear picture of real population figures as there have been cases where people refused to be counted during census exercises due to some illogical reasons. The growth in population has contributed to the urbanization of cities across the country. In Abuja where I have lived for the past nine years, the population currently stands at 7,000,000, transforming the once small peaceful town to a vibrant city.



    The rapid urbanization of Nigeria's federal capital territory has not come without a price. The city has witnessed a remarkable increase in criminal activities which security agencies struggle to combat daily. Living conditions on one hand tend to vary from place to place. Even though I am lucky enough to live in the well maintained and mostly serene part of the city, I have once visited Nyanya, one of the many satellite towns surrounding the city where people live in overcrowded and squalid conditions, and the experience wasn't a good one.The problem of sanitation is also a bane of the government as residents sometimes have to sidestep trash littering the roads and sidewalks of the city. Also, congestion on major highways within and leading to the city has made commuting a nightmare. Before now, it was easy to move around the city without fear of being caught in a traffic jam, but today, things have changed, and for worse. Where I used to move round the city with relative ease, I now have to contend with long snaky lines of cars stuck bumper to bumper on major roads, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Yet in spite of these obvious problems, some areas of the city are said to be growing at 20-30% per year, and with the recent migration of people from the Northern part of the country where political and religious riots have forced them to relocate, the city continues to grow at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, the rise in demand of goods and services has led to the emergence of new markets, making the city a hub of activities that attracts all manner of people, including some unscrupulous characters. As you round a corner of a crowded market, it is advisable to cling tightly to your purse amid the pushing and jostling, otherwise chances are that you will be relieved of some of your hard earned money or valuables by some red eyed urchin you missed spotting on your way in.



    In the light of the above facts, I believe that it has become necessary for control mechanisms to be put in place to stem the growth of the population, because without a deliberate intervention from the government, the country faces challenges ahead. The government needs to embark on a mass orientation of people in the rural areas who tend to be culturally inhibitive, to shun the practice of having more children than they can care for. I also think that policies should be formulated to make small families more attractive. When the government eventually realizes these goals, it should then commit itself to providing supporting infrastructure as the absence of this has reduced the quality of life in the country. In cities like Abuja with poorly developed satellite towns, the focus should shift to these places where majority of the people who cannot afford the high costs of living in the more developed parts of the city, are forced to make home. Until the government tackles this population issue with doggedness and innovative policies that will bring real development to the country, the constantly swelling population will be continue to be a problem for Nigeria.

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