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Obasanjo: Failure of African leaders to make hard choices responsible for overpopulation

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday attributed the alarming population growth in his address at the Public Presentation of the 2020 Report of the Africa Progress Group (APG). However, he ruled out support for one-child or two per family policy in African countries, but submitted that the population should be properly harnessed as asset rather than a burden.

Obasanjo said: “African governments should not ignore the overwhelming evidence that the failure of leadership to apply a set of hard choices on population management is encumbering progress on the continent. “For the avoidance of doubt, APG is not queuing behind the proposition for policies such as one child or two per family as we have in some regions of the world. Our position is rested on the belief that population, large or small, can be harnessed as asset rather than a burden.

“Besides, the variability in socio-cultural positions on family planning by different African communities should be respected but properly managed. Africa’s growing population if well managed will yield huge dividends for national and regional development.”

He added: “The growing population is served the best regime of such enablers as education, health, food and nutrition security, housing, employment and security of lives and property to make the population an asset rather than a burden.” The ex-military ruler also challenged African leaders to pay attention to education as “education is seen as the antidote to poverty and ignorance and the direct and indirect key to unlocking human and material resources of a nation.” Obasanjo called for focus on food security to curb hunger and malnutrition in Africa. He said: “In spite of the depression in the economy of African countries induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, funding of efforts to make population an asset can be achieved through curbing corruption, reducing financial wastage and adopting diverse ways enumerated in this report.

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