Thursday, 26 November 2015

Northern lawmakers kick against birth control; ...says it is anti-Islam

House of Representatives
There was uproar in the House of Representatives yesterday, following a controversial motion seeking to control the country’s population. 

While some members did not see anything wrong with the motion, Muslims and a section of northern members said it was a direct attack on Islam.

Hon Babatunde Gabriel Kolawole had brought a motion titled “Need for the Federal Government to curb population explosion in Nigeria.”

In his prayer, Kolawole asked the House to urge the Federal Government to curb the current population explosion by coming up with a workable reduction policy and directing the National Orientation Agency, NOA, to educate Nigerians on the benefits of family planning.
The lawmaker cited a report by the United States based Population Reference Bureau, PRB, in its 2011 World Population Data Sheet, released in 2014, which states that Nigeria’s population would be 433 million by 2050.

This would make the country the third most populous in the world then, behind only India and China and higher than the United States, but with only 10 per cent of the land mass of the US.

He expressed concern that though Nigeria’s population has hit the 166 million mark, about five million people were being added annually.
Kolawole expressed concern that the National Population Commission, NPC, did not seems to be alive to its responsibility of researching and monitoring national population information databank as well as advising the President on population matters.
He said unbridled population growth puts pressure on the country’s finances and infrastructure, especially food, housing, education and healthcare and is also the catalyst for high unemployment, crime, poverty, among others.
The legislator said his motion was in view of the challenges of countries which have population problems like China (1.4 billion) and India (1.28 billion).

He warned that Nigeria, as a potential third most populous country in the world by 2050, is heading in such direction if it does not immediately commence the implementation of an action plan to curb unbridled population growth.

Kolawole had hardly concluded his submission when a member, Sani Abdul, from Bauchi State objected to the motion, saying that it was unnecessary and a waste of time.

But, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, disagreed with Abdul, noting that the motion was necessary since it was a planning issue.

Abdul in sustaining his argument, however, insisted that population is the strength of any nation, adding that Nigeria has the resources and land mass to accommodate any population explosion.

Thereafter, lawmakers, mostly from the north and Muslims, who contributed to the motion, were unanimous in speaking against it.

Zakare Mohammed, who claimed that he was not against the motion; at the same said the country’s culture must be preserved.

According to him, in the north and in Islam, it is acceptable to have more than one wife and bear as many children as one so desires.

However, Adam Jagaba raised a constitutional point of order, saying that the motion was in line with the constitution and did not offend any part of the House rules.

Another member had raised a point of order pursuant to Order 9 Rule 8 of the House Rule, saying the motion was in no way attacking Muslims.
The lawmaker said this is not the intent of the motion, implying that Sani Abdul’s submission opposing the motion was impugning motives, which was against the House rule.

Speaker Dogara in sustaining his point of order said there was no attack by the motion on any religion.
“It is only a call for policy for planning. It is only when the policy is developed that you can attack it,” he said.
In his ruling, the Speaker referred the motion to the Committees on Justice, Population and Rules and Business to consider the way forward.

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