Challenges Facing Nigeria

Challenges Facing Nigeria

Challenges Facing Nigeria

Challenges Facing Nigeria

The Federal Republic of Nigeria remains the baby giant of Africa sitting very close to the heart of Africa about 10 degrees north of the equator just at the western coast. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the most populous country in all of Africa and the eighth most populous country in the world today. Nigeria has a total land area of about 923, (about 1.5% of which is covered by water) with about 853km of coastline. Just about 33.02% of this total land area remains arable (land good for farming). Nigeria ranks 32nd in the world by total land area. Nigeria shares borders with the People's Republic of Niger to the North, the Republics of Cameroon and Chad to the east and the People's Republic of Benin to the west. Nigeria also borders the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea) to the south.

Nigeria remains the most populous country in Africa today with an "estimated" population of about 178 million people (Ethiopia the second most populous country in Africa today has a total population of about 96 million people. Followed by Egypt with about 85 million people). Nigeria's population growth rate hovers around 2.6%. Nigeria comprises of 36 different states with Abuja (Abuja has a total land area of about and a population of about 2 million people) being the federal capital.

More than 50% of the total population of Nigeria live in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Lagos (the most populous city in Africa today). Lagos City which used to be the capital of Nigeria from 1914 to 1991 remains the heart and soul of Nigeria with a population of about 11 million people. Kano (another major city in Nigeria today with a population of about 3.5 million people), Ibadan ( a major city with a population of about 3 million people), Kaduna (with a population of about 2 million people), etc. remain some of the major cities and towns in Nigeria today.  Nigeria comprises of about 250 different ethnic groups with Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Fulani being the most dominant ethnic groups both socially and politically. The Yorubas make up about 21% of the total population. The Igbos make up about 18% of the total population. The Hausa and Fulanis together make up about 29% of the total population. Other "influential" groups living in Nigeria today include the Ijaws who make up about 10% of the total population, the Kanuris (make up about 4% of the total population), the Ibibios (make up about 3.5% of the total population), and the Tivs (make up about 2.5% of the population). Islam remains the most dominant religion in Nigeria today with about 50% of the population being Muslims. Christians make up about 40% of the total population with indigenous believers forming the remaining 10%.

There are more than 550 different languages spoken in Nigeria today (Please note: according to history, Nigeria had about 1500 different ethnic languages most of which are dead due mostly to outside influence) with English being the official language and "Pigdin" (broken English) being the street language.

Nigeria has a literacy rate of about 61.3% for the total population with the female literacy rate hovering around 50.4%. In other words, just about 50.4% of the total population of females above age 15 can read and write. Although this literacy rate is far better than in countries like Burkina Faso, this literacy rate falls far below expectation compared to countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe and even Kenya. Although just about 60% of the total population above age 15 can read and write in English Language, almost the entire population do speak and understand the "pidgin" language (broken English) which helps a lot in communication especially on the streets.

Most African countries especially the English speaking countries like Ghana also do speak and understand pidgin which helps a lot in "street"communication among these countries.

Nigeria is a very rich country in terms of human and natural resources (including natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land). Nigeria is an oil rich country (the leading exporter of oil in Africa today) and one of the leading oil exporters in the world (the 6th leading oil exporter in the world today). Please note: The petroleum industry remains the largest industry and the main generator of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in Nigeria today.

Despite the abundance of human and natural resources, Nigeria remains one of the poor countries in the world today. Nigeria has the largest population of poor people in Africa today (Some will blame it on the population size). Nigeria unlike countries like Ghana, Botswana, etc. suffers the most from population explosion.

CORRUPTION, poor management of funds, political instability and poor governance continue to tear Nigeria apart. Nigeria although not the "most" violent in Africa, remains the most corrupt country in Africa today with very high unemployment rates. Almost all political figures in Nigeria today engage themselves in corrupt activities leaving the average Nigerian on the streets with nothing but poverty, anger and despair.

Although Nigeria has many graduates, most of them end up on the streets with nothing at all to do after college. Most of these unemployed graduates engage themselves in online scams and other fraudulent activities (popularly known as the "419" business) just to survive.

Between 45-60 percent of the total population of Nigeria lives below poverty line. Most people have given up on education because they find nothing useful to do with their degrees after college. These days you see children of school-going age roaming about on the streets hawking.

About 3 to 5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria today. About 220,000 HIV/AIDS deaths were recorded in 2009 alone.  Most children on the streets have lost either one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Ethnic and religious conflicts especially between Muslims and Christians worsen the situation in certain parts of Nigeria today. Local terrorist groups such as the notorious Boko Haram (which means western education is evil) continue to terrorize several innocent people especially in the northern parts of the country.

Besides the deadly HIV/AIDS, the deadly malaria, bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, Ebola (Nigeria is now Ebola-free), etc. continue to threaten several lives in Nigeria today. According the World Health Organization, more than 26.7% of Nigerian children under the age 5 were underweight in 2008.

Environmental degradation (gradual deterioration of the environment) including soil degradation (caused mainly by oil spills especially in the Niger Delta areas. Oil spillage poisons food sources and water bodies in most of these areas), rapid deforestation, air and water pollution especially in urban areas, desertification (especially in the northern parts), rapid urbanization (which puts much pressure on available resources), etc. remain some of the major environmental issues facing Nigeria today.

Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has listed three major challenges facing Nigeria’s economy that the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari needs to tackle. According to Dangote, Buhari needs to make unemployment, increased power generation and corruption his top priorities after his swearing-in on May 29. Speaking in an interview with This Day, Dangote pointed out that the business community in the country is set to back Buhari’s administration. He explained that with President Goodluck Jonathan conceding defeat, the confidence of investors all over the world has been boosted, adding that the business community would wax stronger if the president-elect tackles some urgent needs of the economy.

Speaking on unemployment, Dangote said: “It is a great and pervasive problem in Nigeria. But the point must be made that it is not peculiarly a Nigerian problem. All over the world, there are growing issues of unemployment. And what we are saying is that the in-coming government can achieve a remarkable success in this regard if it declares an emergency on unemployment and tackle it decisively. You know the organised private sector will or should play a key role in this. And that is why we are concerned.” He further lamented the extent of damage corruption has done to Nigerian economy, describing it as a “big cankerworm that has really eaten deep into the fabric of our nation.” “The malaise of corruption is a threat to the survival of the Nigeria economy, no doubt. We must all therefore rise in unison to tackle the menace both in the public and private sector of the economy. The Buhari-led government can show a lot of strength on this issue by showing direction, by demonstrating commitment to ridding every sector of the economy of this malaise.

. The businessman called on Buhari’s administration to revisit the ongoing privatisation programme in the energy sector with a view to growing the energy capacity of the country. According to him, if there is increased electricity output, there would be industrial growth and even the small and medium scale businesses which are dying because of insufficient energy supply, would begin to experience boom again. Dangote is a Nigerian billionaire businessman, who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. The company operates in Nigeria and other African countries, including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Togo and Zambia.

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