Nigeria's population is currently estimated at over 198 million, the largest in Africa, but the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, sees this as a time-bomb waiting to happen except a few things are done.

Professor Osinbajo wants Nigerians to build an economy that will support this fast-growing population in order to avoid this 'time-bomb' scenario.

The Vice President made this submission on Thursday in his address at the Religious Leaders Consultative Forum on Harnessing Demographic Dividend for Sustainable Development in Nigeria: The Role of Muslim Religious Leaders held in Abuja. 

He also highlighted what Nigerians should be doing to check the impending unfavourable circumstance.

"We must act with urgency to build an economy that can support that population, provide jobs and economic opportunity, education and healthcare, hope and optimism.

"It is the business of heads of families at the micro level and governments at the macro level to prioritise the education and health of their families and invest more per child with more deliberate planning," he told the gathering.

The Vice President also reeled out some efforts that the government had made, saying the Federal Government had since 2015, prioritised the problems of speedily getting the largest numbers of our people out of poverty and its implications for the critical human development issues especially, healthcare, education and jobs.

"We are now two years into the most ambitious Social Protection Programme in the history of Nigeria, with a provision in the budget of 500 billion Naira.

"We are in answer to the malnutrition and stunting feeding over 9.2 children in public primary schools daily in 25 States. 

"We have now employed 500,000 graduates in our N-Power programme, and we are giving micro-credit to over 2 million petty traders in every State.

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"We are also targeting our cash transfers to over 400,000 of the poorest Nigerians. We are investing in present and future generations, raising school enrolment and child immunisation rates.

"The emphasis on young people as contained in the Demographic Dividend Road Map is consistent with one of the strategic objectives of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, of “Investing in our people” through social inclusion, job creation and youth empowerment and improved human capital," he explained.

The theme of the forum is “Increasing Access to Reproductive Health as a Key Pillar for Achieving Demographic Dividend in Nigeria".

Demographic dividend refers to the growth in an economy that is the resultant effect of a change in the age structure of a country’s population.

The vice president said that relevant demographics showed the prospects and potential of a prosperous future for Nigeria, if appropriate and timely actions were in place.

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According to him, Nigeria’s population size is currently estimated at over 198 million, the largest in Africa.

He said that about 63% of the population was under the age of 25 years, 33% between 10 years and 24 years, and 54.8% of working age between 15 years and 64 years.

Osinbajo added that 51% of the female population was in their reproductive ages-15 years to 49 years.

According to him, it is estimated that by 2050, Nigeria would be the 3rd most populous country in the world, after India and China. 

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