It is estimated that around 200 million people live in Nigeria today. The average age is around 18 years. In 2019 the United Nations (UN) ranked Nigeria’s population as the fastest growing country in the world and it will be the third-largest country in the world after India and China by 2050.
One explanation for the rapid population growth is inadequate family planning. Only 15% of Nigerian women between the ages of 15 – 49 make use of contraception. On average, a woman has 5.07 children. The problem is that contraception is taboo nationwide and women often have no way of preventing pregnancies.
Nigeria, West Africa, the “region of the old men”
The country Nigeria in particular and other countries in West African are mainly ruled by presidents over the age of 60. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is about 78 years old. He and many other high-ranking politicians have been in office for decades. This makes it very difficult for the younger generation to get into, and succeed in politics. These old persons in government who are suffering from “seat-tight syndrome” use Makaveli theory and stay in power for as long as they can.
Young people extensively lack the right contacts and networks across the country which are essentially needed to get to the seat of leadership. In addition, another common tradition is the need for strong financial resources. For example, to get the ticket for a party’s presidential candidacy costs the equivalent of more than 35,200 US Dollars which is an equivalent of 14 million Nigerian Naira.
In 2016 young Nigerians launched the NotTooYoungToRun brought to life. The aim of the movement was to lower the age structure for political office so that more young people have the opportunity to apply for political office. Young people from across the country have fought for a cause and actually managed to lower the passive voting age in presidential elections from 40 to 35.
Despite the success of the campaign, the age structure has not changed after the elections in February 2019. People don’t identify with the state, so voter turnout across the country is very low. The opinion of many is that it doesn’t matter who is in power because nothing would change anyway. Young people in particular do not feel supported by the state. This hopelessness leads many to join terrorist networks.
Nigeria’s numerous challenges
Nigeria has a population growth rate of 2.6%, but the infrastructure does not grow enough. There are no roads or transport links. In addition, the power grid is not designed for such a large population and power outages occur regularly. The educational institutions are also overwhelmed by the large population.
This means that more than 8.5 million children of primary school age do not attend school. In addition, there are not enough universities for the large number of young people who would like to study. A subsequent problem is the lack of trained staff. There are not enough well-trained teachers, doctors, or various specialist staff. In addition, the population lacks jobs.
One of Nigeria’s major challenges is the country’s cultural diversity. Many ethnic groups live here, numerous religions are practiced and over 521 different languages , and many more local dialects are spoken. People identify with very many different groups and so it is difficult to develop a sense of community in the country.
Success stories; the only hope of the Average Nigerian Youth
The Nigerian youths numbering over 33,652,424 are battling a failing system. However, there are numerous success stories that are popular in the country which serve as motivation to the young people.
In addition to all the challenges that Nigeria has to face today and in the future, there are also positive things to report. A considerable business start-up scenes keep developing each day in most cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Aba. Most of these start-ups have a particular focus on the agricultural and medical sectors.
For example, there is a star-up that enables doctors to rent rooms for treatments on a daily basis. There is also another medical innovation that allows patients to have online consultation with a medical expert over the phone. This can be through textual chats, video calls or voice calls.
The entertainment industry is also growing exponentially. Since the late 19th century, Nigeria developed its own film industry, which is now known as “Nollywood”. Nollywood is rated the third largest in the world after America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood. There is also “Kannywood” which developed into a successful industry in northern Nigeria.
Most of the films are produced in the African language and focus mainly on the local population as a target group. The quality of the films is improving and the demand for trained actors is also increasing.
In addition to the film industry, the music industry has also recorded a surprising growth.
Most of the young musicians produce conscious music which is often used as a form of expression and criticism. An example of a successful young Nigerian musician is the rapper Falz, who in his song “This is Nigeria“, which has been viewed billions of times, settles accounts with the country and does not shy away from directness.
How can young people change the situation in Nigeria?
Education is the future. Because whoever has a good education has better chances in life. Investing in education therefore means investing in the future of a country. Nigerian youths must be given the opportunity to go to school. In a next step, it must be possible for them to gain access to public universities with well-trained staff. In addition, funding programs for study abroad are important so that people come to other regions and countries to broaden their horizons, to gain knowledge and experience with which they can then implement their ideas and goals at home.
Although Nigeria faces numerous challenges, the country also has great potential. Young people in particular are trying more and more to use their potential and do not let the difficulties in the country get them down.