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Joseph O. Jiboku

Department of Sociology, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye

Human beings are social animals that are rational.  This propels them to associate and interact with one another while seeking for opportunities beyond their frontiers, which necessitates mobility.  One of the multiplier effects of man’s mobility is the phenomenon of multi-partner sex, a menace that is associated with the active segment of the population of a society.  This paper examines the twin concepts of Population Mobility and Multi-Partner Sex.  It examines the causes of mobility and reasons for multi-partner sex.  Rural-Urban perception of the phenomena as well as the effects on Reproductive Health and the Socio-Economic Development of society are also examined. Suggestions are proffered that can help stem the tide of population mobility and multi-partner sex in society. 

Keywords: Mobility; multi-partner; sex; health



No man is an island, so the popular saying goes and so interaction among people is as old as history.  The desire to satisfy human wants necessitates interactions and movements across boundaries and continents.  Even within the country, people crisscross the length and breadth of the country for trading and other commercial activities.  Lagos, the  Nigerian centre of commerce, receives many people on daily basis who have come to trade and return to their places of abode.  Kano, Aba, Onitsha, Port-Harcourt are among other popular commercial towns and cities where people visit to buy goods.  Such activities of these people who move from one place to another for trading purposes and in order to make a living through other ventures connected with long distance economic endeavours have implications on reproductive health as well as on the socio-economic development of the country.

Population Mobility
Population Mobility, according to Ogunjuyigbe (2006), is one of the components of population growth apart from fertility and mortality. It is very important in demographic study.  It is the movement of people from one geographical area to another.  It could be internal or international.  The internal involves movement within the geographical boundaries of a country while the international involves movement across international boundaries usually conditioned by law, protocol or agreement.
 Thompson and Hickey (1999), described Population Mobility as population movement across political boundaries.  This is not only applicable to international movement but also to the internal form of movement as there are different political boundaries even within a state. Internal Mobility could be from rural to urban centres or urban to rural and could as well be within the rural or within the urban centers.

Population Mobility is associated with the proportion of the population that is in the active category who are able to move from one place to another.  This includes traders who move from place to place for trade purposes.  In addition, long distance travelers – Truck Drivers and Sea men  are also included in this segment of the population that is highly mobile because of the nature of their jobs.  In sum, therefore, persons of ages between fifteen and

Journal of Research in National Development 6(2) December, 2008

forty-five can be conceptualized as the proportion of a population that is mobile.  The ages below fifteen are wholly dependent and those of forty-five and above would seriously think of settling down and consolidating themselves than going around in search of greener pastures.

Most often, Population Mobility is often associated with the search for greener pastures.  Like Ekong (1988), rightly observes, population movement or migration is basically a reflection of the imbalance in opportunities and life chances which exist between places. It may be permanent and at other times temporary.  People who move from place to place always have in their minds to ‘make it’ in their new places of destination more than they had ‘made it’ in their former places.  It is mostly a desire to forge ahead, extend frontiers of businesses and discover places where commercial activities can yield more profits.  However, what they fail to consider is the effects of their movements to the new places.  Population will increase and may cause over-population while the former places of abode may experience under-population; the demand for basic necessities of life has to increase and family ties tend to be affected.  All these have implications on Reproductive Health and on the socio-economic developments of different parts of the country.  In most cases also, the desired achievements of such persons may be truncated by other social factors.

Multi-Partner Sex
Multi-Partner Sex  can be likened to what Orubuloye, (1991), and Isiugo-Abanihe (1994), referred to as ‘sexual networking’ which is the number of different sexual partners each sexually active individual has within a given period.  While some men who have more than one wife still engage in extra marital affairs, others who have just one wife at home have chains of concubines.  The unmarried are also not left out of the menace of multi-partner sex as they see themselves as not having any bond of marriage with anyone and so maintain numerous sexual partners.

Persons who, on account of the nature of their jobs are often times on transit like the truck drivers, who according to Isiugo-Abanihe and Odiagbe (1998), patronize commercial sex workers are also included in the category of persons with multi sex partners. The males of society are mostly associated with the phenomenon of multi-partner sex.  ‘It is a man’s world’, many would say.  But this is not quite untrue because of the patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society.  Suffice to say that Multi-Partner Sex can also be linked with the female counterpart of society as many of the commercial sex workers on the streets of major cities and towns are women.  They engage in commercial sex, on many occasions to make ends meet and this act of prostitution has constituted one of the negative social problems of society.

Reasons for Multi-Partner Sex
The need to satisfy normal sexual urge leads to sexual networking when in transit, since this set of mobile people cannot move around with their spouses. Akinsete (1997), attributed it to postpartum abstinence period as well as cultural ideas of discouraging post puberty male continence as unhealthy and unnatural.  In addition, she identified the natural proscription of sex for women during pregnancy and breast-feeding period as well as during menopause as contributory factors to multi-partner sex. Even the unmarried (especially the men) see themselves as searching for suitable partners and so try to keep many sexual partners with the idea of taking one of them as wife, a thinking which may in the end not come to be.

Culturally also, the patriarchal nature of society does not frown at men having multiple partners. Culture condones this action on the part of men and seriously frowns and condemns such on the side of the women. Again, Isiugo-Abanihe (2003) and Makinwa-Adebusoye (1993), also observed that when people are away from their known places of abode, the social restraint that they are being watched is removed and this gives room for

higher probability of engaging in multi-partner sex whereas in their usual places of residence, there is a higher level of self-restraint.  This is true because the truck drivers who engage in long distance travel and patronize commercial sex workers are not likely to do so in an environment where they are seen as parents and responsible members of the society.

Other reasons could be on the ground of infertility as many men who have found it difficult to have children with their wives at home may desire to ‘experiment’ with other women outside in order to get desired number of children.  The man could also desire to try his luck in search of a male child if the wife at home has only succeeded in bearing female children. The seamen who leave their homes for months are also highly prone to engage in multi-partner sex to satisfy emotional urge as a result of long absence from home.

Another category of persons involved in this act are the military and policemen who may be on mission assignments for months and in some cases many years.  They get involved in the phenomenon of multi-partner sex due to the nature of their assignments which make them to be separated from their loved ones for a long time. There is also the desire to make ends meet, especially on the part of the female counterparts of society as the reasons for prostitution may be to fulfil certain obligations which supposed family members have failed to satisfy.

Effects on Reproductive Health
Reproductive Health, according to Isiugo-Abanihe, (2003) implies that people, men and women are able to live satisfactory and safe life and are able to reproduce as they consider necessary.  It is associated with healthy living, good standard of living and access to the basic necessities of life.Reproductive health involves the understanding of two parties in the family – the husband and wife.  And even in the pregnancy of a woman, the support of her husband, both morally, financially and otherwise will aid her health condition and

may lead to a peaceful and safe child birth.  The question one then asks is:  How can a man with multiple sex partners, who most times is on transit, be able to give the required support by putting the other partner into serious consideration?

The implication is that multiple sex partners can lead to children being born out of wedlock whose health and physical well being may not be taken care of especially where the mothers do not have a stable means of income.  In fact, the good health of the mother in pregnancy may not even be guaranteed where she has no means of livelihood.  There are other instances where the men even disown the pregnancies of their former sex partners leaving the burden of pregnancy and child care to the woman alone. A mother that is not well fed during pregnancy could have problems in the course of child delivery and even the physique of the child could be affected due to malnourishment.

Makinwa-Adebusoye (1993), also identified the probability of absentee husbands contracting sexually transmitted diseases especially in these days of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the society.  The wife or wives at home could be infected while the children become unsafe.  All these will have adverse effects on reproductive health.  
In the same vein, Lawoyin et al (2000) rightly observed that marital infidelity, multi-partner sex or sexual networking, as it might be called, can cause profound psychological distress in the partner such as anxiety, depression and other psychological states, and impaired psychological well being.  The high incidence of divorce, broken marriages, child abandonmentand single parentage could as well be caused by multi-partner sex in monogamy within the context of polygynous cultural environment.

Implications for Socio-Economic Development
There is the popular saying that actions and reactions are the same but in opposite directions.  The actions of the mobile segment

of the society engaging in multi-partner sex have negative consequences on the socio-economic development of individuals and the larger society.

At the level of the individual, a lot of financial resources are expended on maintaining multi-sex partners.  This includes amounts expended on housing, clothing, healthcare, feeding and other minor expenses.  The Nigerian Home Video, the Nollywood, which is the mirror of society, sometimes depicts the cases of men who even abandon the care and welfare of their homes for their illicit sexual partner(s).  The men are most times hypnotized and before they regain consciousness have lost a lot of their material possessions to the sexual partner(s).  The ladies themselves are not spared in this case as some of them who go around with ‘Aristo’ sugar daddies (whose sources of income are often times questionable) sometimes become victims of ritual kills in the hands of their ‘benefactors’.  In 2007, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Programme, Newsline, beamed its searchlight on the case of a lady who left Benin for Lagos and subsequently disappeared after visiting her second boyfriend. 

When such illicit relationships involve the welfare of off-springs, a lot more is expended.  Money expended on such necessities could have been used to consolidate the economic status and position of such persons and even their family members (if they have) and that is why a lot of drivers in Lagos and other popular cities and towns work very hard under difficult conditions, make a lot of money of which a larger proportion of such earnings are consumed on daily basis by numerous partners and concubines.  The effect is that such people work for many years with little or nothing to show for it.

In some cases, the women with their off-springs are abandoned and left to fend for themselves and their children and this action has dire consequences on their well-being and on the nutrition, health, education and general

living of their children.  When such women do not have a stable means of livelihood, what they do is to resort to all forms of prostitution.  Prostitution itself has its own multiplier effect on parties that are involved as money is also expended by the men to take care of the women involved.

At the societal level, a lot of resources that should have been invested and re-invested into the economy are consumed by the society.  The poor health, nutrition, housing and other social vices in the society can be traced to this phenomenon of multi-partner sex, resulting in conception and birth of children that are not planned for.  Consequently, from their early stage in life, these children suffer deprivations which affect almost all facets of their lives.  Some of them grow to constitute problems to the society due to lack of parental care from their early life.  The society today is saddled with rehabilitating such people at a very high cost .

In sum, therefore, with the present state of economic downturn, a man who has numerous sexual partners, will not be well positioned  to contribute to development bearing in mind the number of women and the numerous children outside matrimony and sometimes within his household who depend on him.
Women are generally often referred to as ‘the weaker sex’.  It  becomes a difficult task for a woman single parent (without the support of her husband) to be in the vanguard of development.  In cases where such women do not have substantial means of income, it becomes very much impossible to put their children on the right path that will make them worthy members of the society.  The children in this kind of situation are therefore not well situated to face the challenges of life.  It must not get forgotten that the foundation is a pre-requisite for growth and development.  The resultant effects of a shaky foundation on children and the larger society as a result of amorous and illicit sexual habit and multi sex partners are better imagined with social vices ravaging the society today.

The Way Forward
 How do we address the phenomenon of multi-partner sex among the youths who constitute a substantial segment of the mobile population?

There is need for mass education and enlightenment of the people particularly the segment that is more prone to this act on the subject of Reproductive Healthy and the dangers of multi-partner sex.  This mass enlightenment has to include all segments of society:  the literates and illiterate men and women; youths; boys and girls, and should be in the simplest language possible.  Avoiding multi-partner sex will help stem the tide of the spread of STDs and especially the much dreaded HIV/AIDS.  More efforts are needed in this direction from governmental institutions, non-governmental institutions and our educational institutions.  In fact, there is need to create this awareness in the young ones by including in their school curricula, more subjects that expose them to issues on sex and health, generally, and AIDS in particular.
Religious institutions also should be more involved in sensitizing their followers on the negative consequences of sexual networking, while the mass media can help sensitize people on the dangers of promiscuity and unsafe sexual habits.  Nigerian culture, individuals should be made to know, allows for polygyny and not promiscuity that can endanger the well being of the family and affect the larger society.

The government also needs to do more in providing jobs for  unemployed youths and making rural areas more attractive to stem the tide of population mobility.  Like Oyekanmi (2003), rightly suggested, banking and loan facilities could be made available to people especially youths and rural dwellers so as to encourage self employment and thereby help to slow the drift of population from rural to urban areas in search of wage employments which is increasingly becoming a mirage with the present day economic situation of Nigeria.  Citizens should have access to the basic necessities of life and at least be satisfied that

the government has not failed in fulfilling their own bargain of social responsibilities.  This also will go a long way in curbing social vices like prostitution and armed robbery

The orientation of  men as husbands and heads of families on the issues of reproductive health; of having many children; of searching for male children and of having the feeling that ‘it is a man’s world’, should change.  On the other hand, women empowerment is another issue that should be seriously considered.  Women should no longer be relegated to the background. They should be enlightened and trained to take up responsibilities and assist the men to meet family needs.  The family is the smallest unit of society and when it is developed, such development would spread across to the society.  Development, first and foremost must be human centred.  It is the individuals that are agents of development in society and so should be properly guided.
            All these will go a long way to control the rate of population mobility and multi-partner sex and reduce the health risks that are associated with these phenomena in order to ensure a safe and better society for all ages.


Akinsete, Y. (1999) “HIV/AIDS Enlightenment Workshop”,  held at Eko
            Hotel Lagos, August 14, 1999.  Adapted from:  Lawoyin, T.O.
            Osinowo, H.O. and Walker, M.E., “Extra-Marital Relationships
            Among Married Nigerian Men in Ibadan Metropolis:  Role of Socio-
            Demographic Risk Factors”,  African Journal for the Psychological
            Study of Social Issues, Vol. 5, Nos. 1 and 2, April and September,

Ekong, E.E., (1988,) Rural Sociology:  An Introduction and Analysis of Rural          
            Nigeria, Uyo:  Dove Educational Publishers.

Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C. (2003) Male Role and Responsibility In Fertility and 
Reproductive Health in Nigeria, Lagos:  Ababa Press Ltd.

Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C. and Odiagbe, S.(1998) “Sexual Life On the HighWay: 
            Nigerian Trucker and Commercial Sex Workers in the Era of AIDS”,
            African Population Studies, Adapted from Isiugo-Abanihe, U.C.,
            (2003) Male Role and Responsibility in Fertility and Reproductive
            Health in Nigeria, Lagos:  Ababa Press Ltd.

Lawoyin, T.O., Osinowo, H.O. and Walker, M.E., 2000, “Extra-Marital
            Relationships Among Married Nigerian Men in Ibadan Metropolis:
            Role of Socio-Demographic Risk Factors”,   African Journal for the
            Psychological Study of Social Issues, Vol. 5, Nos. 1 and 2, April and
            September, 2000.

Makinwa-Adebusoye, “Determinants and Socio-Economic Consequences of
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Ogunjuyigbe, P.O., “Ecology and Population”, in:  Ogunbameru, K.A. and
            Rotimi, W.R. (2000)(eds.) Man and His Social Environment:  A Text of
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Orubuloye, I.O., “Sexual Networking in the Ekiti District of Nigeria”, in: 
Studies in Family Planning, 22(2), Adapted from, Isiugo-Abanihe, (2003) Male Role and Responsibility in Fertility and Reproductive Health in Nigeria, Lagos:  Ababa Press Ltd.

Oyekanmi, F.A.D., “Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Households and
            Respondents:  Migrants and Non-Migrants”, in:  Migration and
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            Social and Economic Research, NISER, Ibadan, 1997.
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to Sociology, New York:  Longman Inc.

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            December, 2006.




FIG: 3.0    This attractive recreation area is in a housing development in the heart of New York City, (Courtesy of New York City Housing Authority).






                                      N  x100%
dfad                                     490



















Table 1: Rate of demand for recreational activities
               Source: fieldwork, (2008)




adfd                                   N    X 100



















Table II:           Rate of non demand for recreational activities

                     Source:  Field work (2008)







Percentage number of People
Source: Fieldwork (2008)