Paul Arkwright, UK high commissioner to Nigeria, says Nigeria’s population could be a disaster if it is not checked.
Arkwright said this on Tuesday at an event organised by the African Peace Building Network of the Social Science Research Council and African Leadership Centre of the Kings College London in Abuja.
Arkwright said Nigeria’s demography should be taken seriously because, at the end of the century, the country’s population could be about N900 million.
He said at that point, many Nigerians would not have electricity, jobs, or education.
“The biggest threat for Nigeria is around the demographic. Everyone talks about the demographic dividend and I firmly believe that is a possibility but there is a scenario of a demographic disaster,” Arkwright said.
“And that is a scenario where a large number of young people, young children even more than currently are out of school. It is a scenario where girls do not get the education they deserve.
“It is a scenario where the current birth rate continues at six to seven children per woman.
“And that is a scenario where there are not 450 million Nigerians by 2050 but 900 million Nigerians by the end of the century who may not have enough to eat and may not have power or jobs and if peace building is looking into the future, the long term, I think this issue of demography should be looked at.”
He said the UK is working to ensure good governance in Nigeria.
“Some of the areas we are focusing on here in Nigeria are around good governance, around anti-corruption, economic prosperity and how do we improve the business environment. They are around insecurity,” Arkwright said.
“The UK has trained over 25,000 Nigerian troops in fighting Boko Haram in the north-east.
“The UK is working with France and the US to provide intelligence so that Boko Haram does not succeed. We are encouraging British companies to invest in Nigeria because ultimately, the UK will continue to strongly support Nigeria.”
He urged experts on peace-building should to ensure that demography is looked into in the bid to proffer solutions to the challenges associated with it.