The National Population Commission (NPC) has said at least 30 million children in Nigeria, who have not been duly registered, stand the risk of losing their national identity.
Yemi Falusi, Head of the National Population Commission in Ondo State, stated this on Thursday, at the flag-off of the Media Campaign Programme on Birth Registration, held in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Falusi explained that only eight per cent of the population under the age of five are properly registered in Nigeria, just as he said only 44 per cent of Africa's births are also registered, thereby leaving an estimation of 85 million children under the age of five unregistered.
According to Falusi, Nigeria also has the largest number of birth and child population in Africa. He stated that in 2015, one-fifth of the continent's births took place in Nigeria, which only accounted for five per cent of births worldwide.
He said: "The number of children under-five in Nigeria is projected to increase from 32 million in 2015 to 58 million by 2050. The number of children under 18 in Nigeria is projected to also increase from 93 million in 2015 to 191 million in 2050, an increase of 98 million or 105 per cent.
"And by 2050, one-fifth of Africa's children under 18 will live in Nigeria. Nigeria has a high potential for future growth."
The NPC boss observed that the implication, which always surface in future, was that many parents fail to register their children at birth.
"So, in simple language, about 30 million children in Nigeria stand the risk of losing their identity if nothing urgent is done. A child that is not registered is not believed to exist in government parlance, and birth registration is evidenced by a birth certificate. It is a key issue to have an identity. Currently, only about eight per cent of under-five children are registered. Only 44 per cent of Africa's births are registered, leaving an estimated 85 million children under-five unregistered.
"Eight of the 10 countries with the lowest levels of birth registration are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria having the largest population of unregistered children. A significant proportion, not less than a million of these, are made up of children born in Ondo State," he said.
He emphasised the need for parents to get their children, who are below the age of 18 years registered, as it is their fundamental human right. After the registration, the NPC boss added that the Commission would freely issue the recognised birth certificate to parents of the child.
He said: "The moment the certificate is not obtained before the age of 18, that child has lost the opportunity for life. May we not be blamed by our children in future for not doing what what we could have done for them today.
"For the avoidance of doubt, let me clearly state it here that for now, both the registration and collection of birth certificates is free."