Our Population Lies Are Catching Up With Us, By ‘Tope Fasua
…is Nigeria’s population up to 200 million? I doubt this very much. But can we walk back the lies and delusion? Very unlikely. We are stuck. Creating an alternative ‘reality’ will be an arduous task, yet we need to find a way to wriggle out of this fix. For at 206 million – if that were our true population – there is no hope for Nigeria.
Amidst the utter confusion around COVID-19 and the swirling conspiracies, some of which are believable or at least should be investigated, a worrisome statistic about future population outcomes rented the waves about two weeks ago. In short, the statistic, published by Vollset, S. E. et al in The Lancet, an academic journal, which, for the purpose of my write-up, is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, concluded that by the year 2100, Nigeria’s population will be around 750 million. The same report holds that the Chinese population would have dropped from the current 1.4 billion to 700 million. India’s population too, according to the report, will have dropped from 1.3 billion presently, to barely 1 billion people. Well, I am going through the entire article to see the rationale for the halving of the Chinese population within 80 years and why the otherwise thriving Indian population will recede by 300 million people, while Nigeria’s hits the roof.
Take the case of India. A reduction by 300 million people within 80 years could means that despite the birth of new children, a lot more people will die there. Even Indians should be scared of this prospect. Chinese people, we know, have implemented a population slow-down policy in the past (under Emperor Mao’s Cultural Revolution). At that point, the country instituted a one child per family policy, which led to several horrible practices like the killing of female children, unofficial abortions and general mass infanticide; acts which were criticised in the Western-dominated mass media. It seems as if such policy – or worse – will now be applauded by the same sections of the media that criticised the population curb. Suddenly, some sections of the global intelligentsia have caught the bug of obsession with the population of thwe world, even when China has adopted a more humane policy. But as you shall see in my arguments below, it is trite for everyone to be worried about the global population. It will however be important for us all to have an opinion in determining how to slow down population growth, and whether indeed certain people need to be culled. Rumours also have it that eugenicists are on the prowl, on the wings of a new corporatocracy or tehnocracy, seeking to weed out those they believe are weak and unfit. Africa is an interesting repository of the weak.
I mentioned the sponsorship of the journal because it is one item that jumps at you once you get into the article on the first page. Whereas I would seriously want to avoid conspiracies, but I believe that for the purpose of this article, it is an important disclosure. The famous Bill Gates does have his sponsorships everywhere and some people have accused him of knowing too much about the ongoing pandemic and wanting to control the world. The pandemic itself has been rumoured to be targeted at population reduction (either naturally as pandemics do, or in some manipulated fashion). No matter where we stand on these issues, it is important to keep open eyes and minds, as this is a phenomenon that is bigger than any of us. Gates himself is no stranger to controversies and conspiracies though, has never offered a straightforward answer when confronted with these frightening allegations, and he has spoken about finally ‘getting attention’ in more than two of his interviews I have seen. I was also scared that he had a monopoly over the vaccine that will solve this coronavirus problem, but I am now more comfortable knowing that many entities, including nations like the U.K., Germany, and Russia are now involved. If for anything, this could mean that the vaccine will be more affordable by poor people when it eventually debuts. And that it could debut faster than initially thought.
Enough of conspiracies, especially those that say all the talk around population is meant to prime the minds of people across the world for what is coming. However, it is clear to see that The Lancet report clearly puts Nigeria out there as the bad guy; the chief populator of the world, almost like the nation polluting the world with human beings. Our case is further worsened by the knowledge that indeed we are a dependent nation, in which officially over 100 million of our 200 million people live in abject poverty. Decades of mis-governance and the lack of vision have ensured that we continue to go round the world cap-in-hand in order to survive. We, like many countries populated by black people, are one of the sorry cases. We have selfish and myopic leaders who display much opulence while we are, overall, a pathetically poor people. When a country is like this, having frittered her goodwill through constant begging and the squandering of opportunities, then anything could be written about such a country. We will be hard pressed to find value in our nation. In fact, we have to insist on being accorded value and dignity, simply as human beings. A 2016 article written by Boris Johnson, the current prime minister of the United Kingdom, acerbically captures our estimate in the eyes of global leaders, and perhaps most other people in the rest of the world. Readers will do themselves a favour to read the condescending but perhaps accurate article at The Spectator.
On the matter of population, what exactly is Nigeria’s numbers? Decades of cooking the books, reporting outlandish populations, to ‘win’ elections and give victory to politicians who only ruin the country, is now biting us in the derriere. Decades of inflating the population and falsifying figures just to lay claim to a larger percentage of the ‘national cake’…
Some snippets from Boris: “I’ve been in Africa for ages and there’s one thing I just don’t get. Why are they so brutal to each other? We may treat them like children, but it’s not because of us that they behave like the children in Lord of the Flies.. Malaysians have air-conditioning and computers; 90 per cent of Ugandans live in Stone Age conditions — round mud huts with a fireplace dug in the floor and raffia mats for beds and a life-expectancy of 42”.
Let us not deceive ourselves, people who have high stakes in this world, or believe they do; people who ‘run things’ and have exercised their powers of control over large populations, do have a right to worry about what happens to the world and whether human population is going to overwhelm the earth. They have a right to imagine how this world will be in the next 100, 500 or 10,000 years. Lesser mortals like us may choose not to think that far but even at that, it is a worthy experiment to project the population of our country. The problem I think we have is that ab initio, we have allowed our small wars and myopic contests to becloud our future. Our lies are coming home to roost.
On the matter of population, what exactly is Nigeria’s numbers? Decades of cooking the books, reporting outlandish populations, to ‘win’ elections and give victory to politicians who only ruin the country, is now biting us in the derriere. Decades of inflating the population and falsifying figures just to lay claim to a larger percentage of the ‘national cake’, which nobody bakes but which drops on the nation’s laps every month, has come to give us nightmares. Is Nigeria’s population really 200 million? Or 206 million as being presently updated, even by the National Population Commission? How reliable are our censuses? When we subject this figure to triangulation, using other data such as the BVN or even the number of voters, it falls flat on its face. Nigeria has less than 40 million BVNs, in a population where at least half of the numbers should be active workers and account holders. Our data on mobile telephony is distorted because many people hold multiple phone lines mainly due to their fears of bad service. Even many students have two phone lines each. We hear that the total number of mobile phone users in the country is over 100 million though. Then we turn to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the electoral body. As at 2019, the total number of registered voters was 84 million, but consistently for over two decades, we have never scored 35 million votes, even in the most hotly contested national elections. The explanation that people are lethargic to voting is no longer cutting the ice. What is more likely is that the figures are inflated, for obvious reasons.
Again, is Nigeria’s population up to 200 million? I doubt this very much. But can we walk back the lies and delusion? Very unlikely. We are stuck. Creating an alternative ‘reality’ will be an arduous task, yet we need to find a way to wriggle out of this fix. For at 206 million – if that were our true population – there is no hope for Nigeria.
I believe strongly that Nigeria’s population is not up to the much-touted 200 million. I have shown my triangulated evidence above. Something in the region of 120 million may be closer to the truth. If this is so, it is for our own good. If we project from 120 million, then Nigeria’s population will end up at 414 million by the year 2100, using my more conservative assumptions.
I plugged in the figure on MS Excel and did a mini Monte Carlo simulation. Running at 3 per cent growth rate per annum, Nigeria’s population would have grown to over 2 billion by 2100, not even 750 million! In order to achieve a figure of around 710 million, I had to drop the growth rate of our 200 million odd population to 2 per cent from 3 per cent from about eight years from now, and further to 1 per cent from around 2056, till the end of the period, 2100. Populations do expand fast. At 1 per cent growth rate, a population doubles every 63 years. The fear of population watchers is therefore justified; if the world allows populations to grow at current rates, how do we handle the numbers in due course? What kind of world would that be? What is sustainable and what is not? 750 million people sounds frightening for Nigeria. Even 400 million.
I want to hope that things will not pan out the way the scholars at The Lancet have imagined. For one, whatever dynamics are responsible for a slow-down in population numbers in China and India may also apply to Nigeria. We hope that the prediction is not that billions will be wiped out by recurring diseases and pandemics. We hope also that they are not projecting that authoritative governments will show up and forcibly reduce populations by sterilising their people or something that crazy. I am also hoping that Nigeria will not continue this way, carrying on mindlessly and unconcerned, plan-less and visionless, or like Lugard had said about us, ‘with no apprehension for the future’. I want to believe that at some point, something will break that resets our thinking and slows us down from the path of destruction.
I believe strongly that Nigeria’s population is not up to the much-touted 200 million. I have shown my triangulated evidence above. Something in the region of 120 million may be closer to the truth. If this is so, it is for our own good. If we project from 120 million, then Nigeria’s population will end up at 414 million by the year 2100, using my more conservative assumptions. This is a huge figure, but less frightening. I doubt very much if the entity called Nigeria will still be around in its present state by the year 2100 anyway. Technological disruption, as we have begun to see lately, is likely to have upturned our reality totally by then. I also think that indeed there are machinations in the works by powerful people who run the world, to ensure than human population does not balloon to unsustainable and unimaginable levels. When I worked the numbers, even at a 0.5 per cent growth yearly, the current human population will have bombed out to N521 billion from the current level of 7.5 billion by the year 2100. Frightening! But that is what the mathematics say. I think even more frightening scenarios than COVID-19 are ahead for everybody, for humanity. It would be about hard decisions, gory sights and depressing times to pass through. Events that will make everyone relinquish their religious beliefs. I kid you not.
I think this is a good point to address those who take delight in populating the world by sowing their wild oats. You may be causing real trouble for the world. I would have argued that population will decline in parts of Nigeria – for I have conducted surveys in the past that shows that most of today’s adults have fewer children than their parents. However, for the fact that some people still sire 20, 40 children in Nigeria today (like one House of Representatives member boasted the other day), it is important to point out that this is a risk we can ill afford to run. For if we do not manage our own affairs, speak the truth to ourselves and get more responsible in more ways than one, surely there are powerful people and powerful nations who will intervene and corral us in and we may not particularly enjoy the tactics they employ. These are times for deep reflections and calculated, almost cold-blooded decisions. This may also be the time to try and be more honest with our statistics. Our lies are putting us in hot oil. God help us.