The first Nigerian Population Policy was written in 1988 to reduce population growth as a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Health and the World Bank. Whether this policy was successful is in contention. Some schools of thought argue that it was unsuccessful due to cultural, religious and financial factors in play. However, a positive demographic change was noticed statistically after the policy was implemented. Achievement of policy goals was limited due to flaws in the implementation strategy adopted for the National Population Program as well as due to a cultural aversion to family planning in Northern Nigeria, among other factors. The success of the policy was greatest in Southern Nigeria where social advancement also played an integral role. This paper shows that the attitudes towards population growth differ between these two very important regions of one country. This paper also addresses, in great detail, the obstacles to the implementation of the 1988 policy, and analyzes why the policy was successful in a part of the country, but not in another. With a new Population Policy having been implemented in 2006, identifying the problems of the 1988 program implementation has limited value unless the learned lessons result in a greater determination by the upper echelons of government, the bureaucracy and the political class in the nation to reprogram efforts for the future. While the Federal Government has recently instituted reform agenda that cover economic, social and administrative reforms, the population sector, together with the political governance that will address the role of population size in allocation of resources and power, needs to be included in the reform agenda.


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