A SWOT analysis of our economy will reveal that Nigeria's young population should be at the top of our "strengths" list. Nearly three out of every four Nigerians are under 35 years, earning Nigeria its "youthful nation" title. That's about 155 million people, a significant group of people who should engage in producing or consuming goods and services but currently struggle to do so.
Nigeria's youth population is 95 million people, over three times Ghana's population and about 50% bigger than the 64 million youths the NBS estimated nine years ago.
The youth population is a potential opportunity for current economic growth and a future demographic dividend. But no region in Nigeria employs up to 30% of its youth.
A third of Nigeria's total young people are in the labour force. Another third is arguably still in school, and productivity for the final part is problematic. Data shows more than 18 million young Nigerians claimed to be ill, and others have given up hope of working.
Yet, the burgeoning youth population remains a challenge, as many young people are either uneducated or unemployed—and in some cases, both. Given the country's size, though, it is difficult to attribute the source of unemployment to a single cause. The factors that apply to young people in a specific region might differ from what ails other areas. Then there is the more pressing question—to what extent is Nigeria wasting its young population?
We've decided to delve into the pages of a recently published National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) survey to answer this question. Using results from the survey, we will explore how serious the issue of youth productivity in Nigeria is and possible remedies for the opportunities we are missing as a country. First, it would make sense to clarify who we're referring to as "youths", so let's start from there.