Why Is Lagos Overpopulated: Reasons: If there is one unifying characteristic of megacities all over the world, it is overpopulation. From Mexico city to Mumbai, to Lagos, the teeming number of people who are in these cities suffocate the limited resources available. Consider Lagos, a City in Nigeria, once a tiny coastal town just a number of decades ago is now a sprawling commercial capital with millions of inhabitants.
The rapid explosion of the population of Lagos from just a few thousand people to 22 million people occupying the 452 square miles of the city is unprecedented. This unprecedented growth has far reaching consequences. The effects of Lagos overpopulation are dire. The facilities and amenities that were put in place many years ago for the few people living there has been stretched to their limits and beyond by the excess number of people lining there now.
Some people live in houses without good waste removal system, others do not have access to potable water yet many others are living in the slums scattered around the city. But the worst is yet to come. Experts hay predicted an exponential rise in the population of Lagos within the next 30 years. Economic and natural resources are bound to witness even more strain if not breakdown if nothing is done to effectively manage the situation.
The consequences of Lagos overpopulation are not hard to find. Moving from less populated places like Abuja, the capital of Nigeria to Lagos state, one would immediately find the atmosphere choking! Public transportation is always jam-packed, protracted traffic jams has become an allusion to Lagos and the air is thick with noise and sweat and smoke.
Why is this so? Lagos is not, after all, the only City in the world with so many people living in it. What makes Lagos overpopulated? To answer these questions, we must dissect the various components of the issue.
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What is Overpopulation?
Population in the context of this article means the total number of people residing in a given geographical territory, in this case, Lagos, over a period of time.
Overpopulation on the other hand is not simply too many people living in a giving area at a particular time. It is correctly defined as a situation where there are too many people living in a given area such that they are more than the limited available economic and natural resources in the area at a given time. This can result in population crash, environmental deterioration and low quality of life for people in that area.
There are over 39 million people living in California, the most populated city in the United States of America. Yet, California is not overpopulated. The resources and land area of this city is enough to comfortably accommodate the people living in it.
What Causes Overpopulation?
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC), says that there are 3 main reasons for overpopulation:
1. Natality: this is the ratio of births and individuals resident in an area at a given time. High natality has been said to be the greatest contributing factor to overpopulation.
2. Migration: This is the act of people moving from one community or area to another, usually in search of greener pastures. Migration is the major cause of overpopulation in Lagos.
Research reveals that thousands of people move into the Lagos everyday! The World Population Review, 2018 reported that despite Lagos being the city with the smallest land size in Africa, it has the largest population of about 22 million inhabitants.
3. Low mortality rate: mortality rate refers to the ratio of deaths to population in a given area and time. Cities usually have low mortality rate because of high natality, health care, etc. However, this is not the story for Lagos. The mortality rate is still high thus it is not the reason for the city’s overpopulation. What then are the causes of Lagos’ overpopulation?
Why is Lagos Overpopulated?
There are many reasons for the overpopulation problem in Lagos and indeed a number of other Nigerian cities. We shall now examine some of the major ones.
1. No laws regulating birth rate in the state: Countries like China have in the past come up with birth control laws to contain the overpopulation problems. The government of Lagos state is yet to tap into this initiative.
Single and married people give birth to as many children as they want and no one cares about whether the resources to train those children are available. Some of these children are sent to beg of hawk or even to orphanage homes while their parents are still alive.
2. Early marriages: This has very drastic effects on the growth of the population. Most couples who get married on time have little or no knowledge about marriage or family planning and thus produce children at will.
They in turn, give birth to children who have no knowledge of family planning and the trend goes on.
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3. The quest for Male children: male children are more valued in Nigeria than female children. This is true even in Lagos which is deemed Yorubaland. The reasons for this include: the need to keep the family name alive and the demand for the physical strength that is natural for men.
Sadly, this craze for Male children has led many to reproduce like rats or chicken in a bid to get a male child. Many couples are pressured by society and their relatives to seek every opportunity to get male children. Some men marry many wives, many women give birth to as much as 10 girls in their bid to get at least a boy! And when the male child finally comes along, the female children are usually relegated to the background; some of them get pregnant out of wedlock and the population keeps growing.
4. Religious beliefs: The three major religions practised in Lagos are: Christianity, Islam and traditional African religion. Islam as well as the traditional African religion is practised by a good number of Lagosians.
Both religions encourage polygamous and early marriages. Polygamous marriages are characterized by large families made up of many wives and numerous children. This contributes greatly to population growth.
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5. Illiteracy: Illiteracy is a condition that does not allow the sufferer to know that they are in trouble.
Many polygamists think that they have arrived with their many wives and children but the truth is that they are putting extra burden on themselves and the society. Their illiteracy here is as a result of their lack of knowledge about population growth and sex education.
6. High sexual urges: In this age where pornography has become rampant and easily accessible, sexual urges have been on the rise especially among young men and women.
There are many cases of childbirth outside wedlock so much so that it is now almost the new normal. From baby mamas to impregnated house helps, more children are given birth to everyday without recourse to the available resources for raising them.
7. Old-age social security: Many people believe and hope on their children to support them in their old age. They see children as an investment that must yield them dividends.
A pension plan. With this mindset, many have decided to double their chances of getting better returns on their investment by giving birth to as many children as possible so that if some turn truant and disappoint them, others won’t. Many of such parents have been disappointed completely.
Their children grew up and left them for dead, travelled to other countries to find greener pastures because their parents did not even give them a good platform to make it in life.
8. Anticipated high infant mortality: Many couples due to religious or superstitious beliefs decide to give birth to many children for fear that some may die. They hope that with many children, at least one or two may survive.
The ogbanje belief among the Igbos who make up a good portion of Lagos population is an example of the causes of this weird mindset. In some cases, some of their children die as anticipated but in many cases, they don’t and they are left with too many children than they can cater for.
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9. Immigration: The rate of influx of new people both from other states of the country and abroad to Lagos is alarming. Most businesses have set up their branches or headquarters in Lagos and this means that their top employees must relocate to that city. Also, many people move to Lagos, being the commercial capital of Nigeria in search of better opportunities for employment or business.
The numerous tertiary institutions in the state also contribute to the high immigration rate and there is no framework on ground to monitor this fast growing immigration rate. This has led to growth in the crime rate in the city.
10. Improved medical facilities: Being a megacity, Lagos boasts some of the best private and public hospitals in the country. This has improved the quality of available healthcare for Lagosians. Thus infant and adult mortality rates has reduced. People now live longer and healthier with vaccines and drugs that are readily available in the city.
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If the Federal and State Governments are determined to eliminate the consequences of overpopulation such as: poverty, disease, illiteracy, hunger and to provide a conducive environment for our future generations, then, they must take drastic steps to set things aright.
It is despicable that the government does not have accurate information about the population of the residents of the state despite the existence of an agency saddled with that precise duty– the National Population Commission (NPC). If private companies have the exact figures of their customers and workers, Lagos State should too. Very little or no economic or social revolution can be effected without correct information about the population of the state.
Reorientation of the populace is also in order. There is a need to divest Lagosians of the warped mindset and stereotypes they have children and childbirth. They must be made to rethink those cultures and traditions that are repugnant to natural justice Equity and good conscience and embrace wisdom.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.