BY PRUDENCE IJAH, ABUJA
The Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, says deliberate planning, policy formulation and fidelity to policy implementation holds the answers to increased investments in Nigeria’s population towards achieving demographic dividend in the country.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this at the closing of a 2-Days’ forum organized by the United Nations’ Population Fund, (UNFPA) to enhance the capacity of Muslim Religious Leaders to advocate for, and support policies and programme that will contribute to accelerating the process of harnessing Demographic Dividend in Nigeria.
During the Vice President’s keynote address, he said ” heads of families at the micro-level and
government at the macro-level must prioritise the education and health of families, only then can the much needed progress be achieved”
Addressing the role of Muslim religious leaders, Prof. Osinbajo, who urged them to engage in discussions with their minds devoid of prejudice, emphasized that they remain the voices of change in ensuring improved maternal and newborn health, an end to early child marriage, increased enrollment and retention of the girl-child in school amongst other roles.
Also speaking, President of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Shehu Salihu, warned against what he called blanket and indiscriminate containment of procreation.
Prof. Salihu stressed the need for the society to deemphasize protected sex and rather emphasized morality and chastity among young people.
The United Nations-Resident Coordinator, Edward Kallon, called on the religious leaders to brainstorm on how Nigeria could take advantage of her population.
Earlier, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole pledged government’s continued collaboration with the UNFPA in harnessing Nigeria’s demographic dividends in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
He said “Nigeria is projected to be the 3rd most populous country in the world by 2030, with a high fertility rate, it is therefore important to make this population useful”
The high level stakeholders meeting of Muslim religious leaders had various sessions addressing key issues around the demographic dividend roadmap while participants shared their experiences.