Are younger Nigerians optimistic about the country’s future?
At the “Nigeria 2050 Forum” hosted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group during the Social Media Week in February 2020, Wilson Erumebor shared insights on Nigeria’s rising population and its implication on different aspects of the economy.
Nigeria’s population is projected to rise to over 400 million by 2050, making Nigeria the third most populous country in the world. 67% of this population will be below 35 years which results in about 270 million people. This large population with a youth bulge will create significant pressures on infrastructure, social amenities, food security, human capital and jobs.
As Nigeria’s population expands, there are several critical factors such as climate change, innovation and technology, urbanisation and the rise of renewable energy that will also influence Nigeria’s trajectory and how the country responds to these factors will lead to three different scenarios going into the year 2050:
*Nigeria Stagnates– a case where Nigeria will neither improve nor decline significantly.
*Nigeria Rises– a case where Nigeria becomes the seventh largest economy in the World. Poverty and unemployment rates will reduce significantly and Nigeria becomes a developed country driven by technology.
*Nigeria Fails- a case where living in Nigeria becomes chaotic. Nigeria heads towards disintegration and becomes war-torn, with about 80% of its population living in poverty.
During the session, a poll was conducted on which of the three scenarios will likely play out by 2050. 52% of the audience believe that Nigeria will Rise. 33% believe that Nigeria will Stagnate while 15% believe that Nigeria will Fail.
To avert the Nigeria Fails and Nigeria Stagnates scenarios, Nigeria needs to develop a shared vision that answers critical questions such as where will Nigeria be by 2050? Which sectors will drive economic growth going into 2050? What strategies are required to ensure economic growth is inclusive? What skills are needed as we develop key sectors? etc. The development of this shared vision is based on the premise that a country’s development process is not coincidental, it is actually a deliberate effort and action by various stakeholders led by the government at both federal and state levels.
But we must not focus on developing this shared vision and long term plans alone. Stakeholders, especially the Nigerian youth, must hold government to account to ensure swift implementation. Social media has become a platform for change in the last few decades and the youthful energy on social media needs to be properly channelled towards holding government accountable and asking critical questions relating to Nigeria’s development.
To make all these a success, the Nigerian government must engage the youth. Several countries have developed effective structures of youth engagement to ensure the voices of young people are heard and that young people get a seat at the table. Nigeria needs such structure. Although young people may account for 70% of Nigeria’s population, they certainly account for 100% of the country’s future and must be given priority.