Archive for May, 2013

Lagos: Menace of Overpopulation

overpopulation in Lagos

Overpopulation in Lagos

Lagos, the centre of excellence with an official population of ten million, is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria as a country. The former national capital is popular and whenever the name Nigeria is mentioned, the state Lagos comes to mind immediately. Outside the glamour and well deserved popularity, the state is the most economically important state of the country and is arguably the largest urban area. The figure of its population is an issue the jury is still out on, but nobody can deny the immense number of people living in Lagos state. Few words may suffice to describe Lagos state, but ‘Densely Populated’ has to be one of them.

The allure of Lagos life and living, which agreeably has all the enchanting fireworks that other states so desperately crave, is so appealing that I can dare say other state dwellers dream of living in the state. But away from the glitz and glamour, when the topic of population is put into perspective it poses a valid argument. Is the population of Lagos state a part of its cure or parts of its disease? Many people have tried to rationalise the immense benefits of having so many people in the state, sighting it to be a pool of human capital, this cannot be compared to how other countries have gainfully used their population to foster development at a faster rate: China comes to mind. Their seemingly unending population drives industrial production and has given them a big factor of production which they had used to their advantage; this is not the case with Lagos. It has become a problem. So we can conveniently say, overpopulation of Lagos state is a menace. And with it comes stinging poverty.

The figure of population in Lagos is a matter of concern, the menace of overpopulation has been haunting ever since the high influx of citizens of other states into Lagos started. The fight for shelter, food and mere existence seem to petrify the people; not only the slum dwelling classes at the maximum but also the middle class and upper classes as well. More than a thousand people reportedly in into Lagos daily with less than one percent of them leaving. The number of issues affecting every individual is humongous; poor quality of drinking water, improper sanitation, aberrant politics, unpredictably frustrating traffic jam and the list goes on.

The national government continues to demonstrate obliviousness of it responsibility towards the citizens. As things stand, the future of the ordinary Nigerian citizen living in his/her own country is bleak, given that the population of the country is expected to double within 30 years if statistics are anything to go by. The situation in Lagos is replicated albeit on a smaller scale, in towns and cities all over the country. People living in other states find it hard to hope that there is anything viable to do over there, and they get glittering report about life in the Lagos metropolis. This attracts them and gets them happy to ditch what they are doing in their cities to come to Lagos in pursuit of a better life; regardless of the ‘downgrading’ work they might get, or with them coming with absolutely no work planned out for them: just coming in to make the numbers. Getting to the state, a lot of them are shaken by the rude awakening, there are no jobs! Even residents of the state do not have jobs, yet wave after wave of Nigerians and neighbouring country’s inhabitants keep flooding into the state, in pursuit of happiness. Had other states developed themselves to a good model, the inhabitants would have no need to come to Lagos. Why leave a town where you have a good work and a great life? With them having none of both where they are, the only logical thing they can do is come over.

To understand the gravity of the issue of overpopulation in this state, u just needs to visit the popular Idumota market on a Tuesday morning. Take position at a vantage point and have a good look at the termite-like movement of the people; make sure your valuables are well kept. There you would observe those that are there to work, those that are there to watch and those that are waiting for an opportunity for chaos to happen and they wreck evil. With all these in mind, we can sectionise the various facets of life within Lagos that suffers from the menace of overpopulation in the state.

Food: Producing food for two as you would for a thousand; the food produced and transported in is not even enough to feed those present, yet a lot of others are coming in. It would be unfair for us to castigate them for pursuing a better life. But the overpopulation is such a problem that food security has now become a struggle. “Too many people consuming too many things too quickly” is the best way to describe the situation, scarcity kicks in and food price climbs a ladder. With the future projection of population even getting increased, how would people feed? The upper class should maybe consume less, and subsidise food for the lower class, but then it’s their prerogative and you can’t force them.

Of the three basic needs of man, the one that ranks second is a nightmare in Lagos. Shelter is an extremely important need and the availability of it is limited in Lagos. Housing is a major problem in the country generally, but the population of Lagos gives a new dimension to the problem. People leave their states to ‘struggle’ in Lagos and a lot of them end up sleeping in buses and under bridges, exposing them to insecurity and the elements. For a typical example, visit the Ilaje area of Bariga in Lagos and be in awe of the volume of people living in these slums. Their fight for survival is hinged on finding a roof over their head and you would be surprised at the number of them that sleep in boats. How can people with such living conditions contribute positively to the development of the state? They simply cannot. And when they cannot solve problems, they become problems: Problems that the central government seem to have turned a blind eye to.

Aside from the devastating economy and the rather poor standard of living, overpopulation is also one smirking culprit in making our environment polluted. Due to the need for more space, drainage and waterways are now being converted into housing projects in various cities. As greater quantity of water is being reduced in the construction of more houses, Man makes living difficult for animals that heavily depend their continued existence on water, thus, creating a reason for more fish species to become extinct. And as Lagos urban areas continue to expand, the water that men drinks and the air that he breathes also continue to become polluted.

Healthcare; health is wealth and the apparent lack of good health shows the lack of wealth. The shocking figure of mortality in the state is totally appalling and looking around the health care facilities, you would be surprised at its inadequacy. Health care facilities are not enough in the state and the population keeps growing arithmetically, making it hard to cater for everybody. The lack of adequate checks and quarantines even mean a lot of diseases are imported along with various people coming in and the pollution rate also makes health care very difficult.

Overpopulation has never failed to smite any country’s economy with unkind effects like scarcity of resources for food production, low gross production and high unemployment rate that consequently leads to equally high crime rate. Listen to the experience of Lagos dweller about the security problems overpopulation causes and you would stare in awe. A lot of people inhabiting Lagos neither have jobs nor anything to keep them busy. They desperately lack food, shelter, proper hygiene and the only thing most of them take on themselves to do is commit crime to make ends meet. This is very rampant as even sellers of consumables turn to rob people inside their cars when there’s traffic on the road. Traffic lock being another unquantifiable problem on its own. With a large amount of docile population, the security risk is sky high in the densely populated state.

In conclusion overpopulation brings food scarcity, scanty housing, improper healthcare, pollution, scary crime rate, the starving margin and the insanctity of human lives, whereas it could have been harnessed for increased production to the benefit of the state. The situation is not all lost as it could be salvaged positively. Security has to be the start; that goes without saying. Then industrialisation is key; bringing in more industries. But then, why bring in more industries and risk population explosion? When industries can comfortably go to other areas in the countries, gainfully employ their citizens and leverage on the resources there to foster development. Other states should look at good paradigms and develop themselves to be made an envy of all states, so that its valuable population would come back home and develop it. Some credit to the government of Akwa Ibom state, a lot of their people have gone back ‘home’ because of the many feats of the government at making the life of the people easier. Develop other states and Lagos would decongest and population would become a cure.

Thus, overpopulation is one of Lagos’ biggest challenges. Let’s shorten the queues.