Ex-President Jonathan, Senate spokesman, others dispute Nigeria’s 200m population figure claim

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and Senate spokesman Ajibola Basiru have expressed doubts about Nigeria’s actual population said to be 200 million currently.


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Dr. Jonathan and Basiru spoke at a public signing of the NeGST and VISA strategic partnership agreement on economic digitisation yesterday in Abuja.

The former President, who was represented by Senator Sanusi Dagash, said he did not believe that Nigeria’s population was 200 million.

“The census, hopefully, is going to take place soon and I believe it is for the betterment of this country. I don’t believe Nigeria is 200 million. Far from it. We should be about 150 million.

“The numbers that are going to vote and the numbers in your state are equivalent to what you get in the revenue mobilization. But this kind of census will tell us what the real numbers are.”

Dagash, who spoke for Dr. Jonathan, noted that “smaller countries have done this, but Nigeria is a very massive country and we have different tiers of government”.

He added: “If we do not apply technology, then we will continue to wallow around and stagnate rather than develop and get to the next level of our development.”

Basiru also said he did not believe Nigeria’s population could be up to 200 million.

He said: “The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimated population of the youths in Nigeria as at 2021 at about 69 million. This is doubtful because I also doubt that the population of Nigeria is up to 200 million; even the 150 million mark is still in doubt.

“This represents approximately 33.5 per cent of the country’s total population, making Nigeria one of the countries with the largest youth population in the world. It is projected that the number of youths in Nigeria will continue to increase with some estimate suggesting that the country’s youth population could reach 100 million by 2030. But I think if you have a credible biometric-driven census, we will be able to have accurate figures which will be necessary for planning and development of our country.”

The senator noted that with “the advent of digital technology and the growing emphasis on digitisation of the economy, there’s some opportunity to face the challenges of youth restiveness and create a more suitable society for all”.

The Chairman of Sterling Bank, Asue Ighodalo, who spoke on the role of money and development banks in economic digitisation, noted that with funding, businesses and entrepreneurs now have the resources to develop innovative solutions that can drive the digitisation of the economy.

Ighodalo said Nigeria has benefited from the support of venture capital firms and other financial institutions.

Citing an example, he recalled that since 2025, Nigeria’s startups have raised over $2 billion, which has given the technology sector a foothold that has become one of the growing employers of labour in the country.

The banker said money and development banks are essential for the digitisation of any economy, as they provide the necessary funding for the development of technology infrastructure and digital solutions.

He called for more investment in digital infrastructure and promotion of the use of digital payments to create a more vibrant and prosperous economy.

Ighodalo said: “We can build a digitised economy that benefits everyone, promotes financial inclusion and drives economic growth.

“It is essential that we continue to invest in digital infrastructure and promote the use of digital payments to create a more vibrant and prosperous Nigerian economy.”

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