Hon. Mohammed Mahmud, Chairman House Committee on Population and National Identity, gave the assurance when FP Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) paid advocacy visit to NASS as part of activities to commemorate 2017 World Population Day (WPD) in Abuja.

The annual WPD is commemorated on July 11 and has “Family Planning, Child Spacing: Empowering People, Developing Nation” as theme for this year.

Mahmud, who said that Nigeria’s current population of over 180 million was alarming, emphasised that the only way to curtail this was to ensure voluntary, safe and cheaper access to family planning.

This, he noted, could be possible through improved budgetary allocation and timely release and judicious use of such money.

The senator explained that when women got access to FP services, they would be able raise healthy families which would directly reflect on the health of the nation.

According to him, access to FP is an indicator of a nation’s economic development and healthy population.

Hon. Uthman Hunkuyi, Chairman Senate Committee on Population and National Identity and senator representing Kaduna North, said increased budgetary allocation was a huge step but its utilisation on intended purpose was another.

Hunkuyi solicited the cooperation of CSOs on budget tracking to ensure judicious use of whatever money targeted at improving maternal and child health to ensure healthy population.

He said “the issue of family planning, child spacing and empowerment are issues that have to do with planning and in this case, we learn from the past and project for the future.

“Considering the rapid growth in our population, the quality of life will be affected if nothing is urgently done because there will be problem of housing, the lack of job, among others.

“We are always ready and will do our best to ensure we play our role with regard to the nation’s demographic issues which has to do with management of our population.”

Earlier, Dr Adenike Adeyemi, Member, Board of Trustees, Association for  Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), said the visit was to solicit support ofgovernment in ensuring increased and prompt budgetary allocation for family planning.

Adeyemi said that the vision of the organisation was for every family in the country to access quality, safe, voluntary family planning as a right.

She explained that women who adopted family planning were healthier and at lower risk of maternal death, likewise their children.

She decried the death of women due to pregnancy complications, stressing, however, that “successful planning programmes could reduce maternal death by 33 per cent and child death by 20 per cent.

“Access to voluntary FP services as human right is central to quality and women empowerment which is key in poverty reduction.

“Investing in FP is investing in the health and rights of women and couples in Nigeria and achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is greatly dependent on how well the sexual and reproductive rights of women and young people are fulfilled.”

Dr Daniel Aliyu, Honourable Federal Commissioner, FCT National Population Commission, expressed displeasure over the lack of legislation on family planning.

He described it as a challenge in addressing the nation’s population growth.

According to him, availability of legislation will ensure provision of money tosensitise the populace on the need to plan the family.