A professor of virology and former vice-chancellor of the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Oyewale Tomori, says the country’s population is increasing at an uncontrollable rate, expressing concern that politicians are not talking enough about the need for family planning.
According to the eminent virologist, political leaders are not talking about family planning because they are afraid of religious leaders who are always preaching against it.
Tomori who was recently appointed to serve as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 vaccine composition said family planning remains a crucial measure required to put Nigeria’s population under control.
According to him, people should space out their children to have a better life, advising Nigerians to plan their family according to their resources.
Tomori, also the Chairman, Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19, affirmed that politicians failed to oppose religious leaders against family planning because they are afraid of losing their votes during elections.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an exclusive interview, the virologist said no country will make progress and witness development without putting its population under check.
He told our correspondent that Nigeria’s resources are dwindling while her population is increasing uncontrollably, describing the situation as double jeopardy.
In December 2020, the National Population Commission says Nigeria’s population is now estimated at 206 million.
Tomori said, “The government is afraid of the religious leaders to talk about family planning. No government will come out and confront religious leaders against family planning.
“The religious leaders are the ones preaching against family planning, saying children are God’s gifts. And because the politicians are afraid of the religious leaders for the next vote, they failed to oppose them.
“You know how religious we are in this country. The politicians are afraid that if they talk about family planning and its benefits, it will affect their votes and this is increasing our population uncontrollably.
“Life was better before independence and shortly after independence. Our numbers are going up uncontrollably.”
He described the state of the health sector at 61 as deplorable.
“The state of health of the sector is embarrassing. This is because, 61 years after independence, we shouldn’t be where we are now. Health was better those days.
“But part of the problem is the way we have uncontrolled population. The facilities and resources we have are not matching with the number of people we have. So, an uncontrolled population is a major problem that we have. When you are having seven million children born every year, that is a whole country.
“The number of children delivered in Nigeria annually is more than the number of children born in Togo, Gambia and Benin Republic put together and those countries are doing well because they are putting some little measures of control over their population so that the resources they have can match it.
“But here in Nigeria, no; the resources are dwindling and the numbers of people are increasing. It is double jeopardy,” he said.
Tomori noted, “Any country that wants to develop, can’t be having seven million children a year.
“It does not make any sense because you need resources to take care of those children. It was five million before, but now it is seven million based on the figures we are getting.
“Many of the countries making development are putting measures of control for the health, development, progress, and advancement of their people.”
The virologist also expressed worry at the rate doctors were leaving the country, lamenting that the government was not even bothered about the disturbing development.
“We should be ashamed of the health system we have. Doctors are running away; health workers are leaving the country. The numbers of our doctors are dwindling and we don’t seem to care,” he said.
He concluded, “We need to educate our people to think differently. Unless we change our attitude, we will never make any progress.”