A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has predicted that Nigeria will have 29 million child brides by 2050.
The report, a part of three reports on how poverty affects children in Nigeria, was launched by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, in conjunction with UNICEF to observe 2022 Children’s Day.
The report put Nigeria’s current number of child brides at 22 million, which it said represents 40 per cent of such cases in West and Central Africa. It, however, further predicted that seven million more child brides will be added by 2050.
Citing the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, NDHS, 2013, the report added that 58.2 per cent of Nigerian girls get married before they turn 18 years old.
It stated that although a comparison of data from 2013 to 2017 revealed a drop in child marriage in Nigeria, it described the rate of decline as modest.
It said the country ranks among those with the slowest declining rates of child marriage in West and Central Africa.
“The rate of decline is also not enough to significantly reduce child marriage in Nigeria under current conditions. Even if efforts are redoubled, Nigeria will add about seven million child brides by 2050. This is because the statistically observed decline will be upended by population growth and the prevalence of child marriage in some regions and cultures, erasing whatever little progress is made in reducing child marriage in Nigeria,” the report said.
The report noted that, by 2018, the percentage of women marrying before the age of 18 had dropped from 48 per cent to 43 per cent, while the percentage of women aged 15-19 marrying before the age of 15 had dropped from 12 per cent to 8 per cent.
The report, however, proffered ways by which the increase can be mitigated, saying Nigeria has to overcome some challenges to effectively reduce child marriage.
These issues include numerous states in the federation failing to domesticate the child rights act (CRA), especially in the northern part of the country).
It also noted that the federal government’s failure to legislate and enforce 18 years as the minimum age for those seeking a constitutionally recognised marriage, is a factor.