Street scene in Sokoto, Nigeria

Social situation Pervasive poverty and corruption

Even though the Nigerian government receives high revenues from the raw materials industry and has undertaken its first economic policy reforms, it has so far not been able to achieve tangible improvements for the people.

About half of the people live in extreme poverty. Living conditions in the country's northern part, which has been neglected for many decades, are significantly worse than in the south. At just 55 years, average life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world.

The health and nutrition status of many people is extremely poor, with problems beginning right at birth. According to the World Bank, 117 out of 1,000 newborn children die before they reach the age of five. Only about one fifth of the population has access to safe drinking water. Most people have no access to basic sanitation. Merely about 55 per cent of the people are connected to the power grid. In rural areas, that rate is as low as 25 per cent. The illiteracy rate is almost 40 per cent.

Nigeria's wealth of oil only benefits a small elite. Cronyism and corruption are part of everyday life. On Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2020, Nigeria is ranked 149th out of 180 countries evaluated.

Rapid population growth

Nigeria's population is currently growing at a rate of 2.5 per cent, or about five million people a year. Over the last 30 years, it has more than doubled, from about 95 million in 1990 to some 206 million in 2020. The United Nations expects that it will double again by the middle of this century, reaching a total of 400 million. The share of under-15-year-olds in the population is already over 40 per cent.

In view of this high level of population growth, the economic growth of the past few years was far too low to facilitate sustained progress on development. The young generation, whose numbers are constantly growing, has very little prospect of getting access to formal jobs, housing or basic social protection. According to Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate was 33 per cent at the end of 2020, with youth unemployment being as high as 42 per cent.

This lack of prospects poses a very great risk of conflict. Increasing parts of Nigeria's society are already trying to assert their personal and political interests by force.