Are Lower/Middle Class Nigerians Having Too Many Children?

Angus was a butcher in my local market. He was generous with his merchandise and gracious in his mannerisms. I trusted him so much that I could call ahead and have him package and send meat to me. I was pregnant for my second child at the time and feeling quite accomplished. For some reason, I assumed Angus was unmarried. How wrong I was.

I engaged him in a conversation one afternoon and inquired as to his marital status; he told me he was married. I swallowed my surprise and asked about his offspring. My mouth hung open when he casually told me he had six children…six.

One day, Angus disappeared from the market and his mobile number stopped connecting. Many months later, after the delivery of my child and the attendant period of ‘omugwo’ I chanced through the market and inquired about Angus from the other butchers. They informed me that he had passed on, and my soul was saddened as I imagined the lot of his children without their amiable father. RIP Angus.

We used to have an ‘Obioma’ tailor who would pass by the house and mend our clothes –Mr. Eze, I believe-. Because of his expertise, he became a family favorite, and soon enough was sharing details of his life with us. He had eight children and his wife was expecting another set of twins…ten children on an ‘obioma’s’ income?

Or is it my mother’s tailor- when I was getting married in 2010, she had five children and was heavily pregnant with a sixth. She has since birthed two more children. Do the addition.

While we invest our energies and resources in championing these awesome causes for empowering children, educating them, clothing them, feeding them and keeping them off the streets, isn’t it time we dedicated just a bit of these efforts to enlightening their parents about not only family planning but economic planning? 

Most educated young couples have adamantly refused to have more than two children for diverse reasons including career pursuits, medical challenges and the all-important economic factor. Others on the other hand are advocates for having a quiver full of them, and I cannot judge them. However, when you have to send your children to live with relatives so they can get an education and yet, you are still in the business of birthing even more children? Then it becomes a problem, not just for the parent but for society at large.

Children that are not catered for at home take to the streets for sustenance, and if their needs are not met, they become tools in the hands of depraved people. And the beat goes on.

The Nigerian reality/mentality for many decades has been to have as many children as possible but in the face of recent statistics by UNICEF Nigeria stating that forty percent of Nigerian children have not had a primary education, and 10.5 million children are out of school, isn’t it time we really began to re-educate parents about the costs and implications of properly raising a child in the 21st century?

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