National pride and Nigeria’s growing population

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Nigerians have long taken pride in being a large nation.“We are very grateful to Britain for giving us Nigeria. It is a great thing to belong to a big country. There is always an unspoken contempt for small countries in international affairs, and we are happy to be citizens of a big country,” said Obafemi Awolowo in 1958. Nigeria’s size and population as guarantor of global gravitas has since become entrenched in the national psyche. Especially as numbers remains the essential foundation of our claim to the “Giant of Africa” status. In terms of sheer natural wealth for instance, countries like Congo and South Africa are no lesser than Nigeria.

But with 198 million citizens to manage, and counting, according to Eze Duruiheoma, Chairman of the National Population Commission, is Nigeria’s population size a misguided source of national pride and how capable is the Nigerian state of handling such numbers?

It has become a bit of a cliché to say a large population offers both opportunities and challenges. But this it boils down to. If mere population size determined national success, China and India, with roughly 1.4 billion citizens each, should be the world’s two main economic superpowers. But more efficiently-governed China is the only superpower of the two, with a $12 trillion economy, second only to America’s. Meanwhile, India’s 1.4 billion population generates a GDP of $2.6 trillion, far less than the $4.9 trillion of 127 million-strong Japan and significantly less than the $3.7 trillion GDP a “mere” 82 million Germans generate. Switzerland’s 8.6 million population enjoys a GDP double that of 204 million Pakistanis while 37 million Canadians have grown an economy six times the size of 168 million-strong Bangladesh. Clearly, a large population is no guarantor of national success, much less greatness, … Read More...