What I’ve Learnt About Nigerian Youth Sector In The Past Few Weeks – Part I

Currently, I’m setting up a youth leadership foundation for a client. As part of my pre-planning activities I did an extensive review of the youth development sector in Nigeria.

I learnt a lot. Lets see how much I can capture in 500 words.

According to the National Youth Policy, a youth in Nigeria is anyone from the age of 18 to 35. Before that you are a Child according to the Child’s Rights Act and the Nigerian Constitution. There is a lot of debate about this age in Nigeria.

Some people say that its too old, others insist that age is not the appropriate criteria but when the person actually becomes independent, and in much of Africa they insist that is later than the western average of early 20’s.

Everyone I spoke to said the age definition is political and was more about access to opportunities including travel and leadership development than anything. One of my respondents said that  African delegates were always the oldest at global events.  And I think Nigeria’s PDP infamously made a 75 year old ‘youth leader’. My personal views are here.

The UN defines a youth as anyone between the age of 15 and 24. The Commonwealth uses 15 to 29 years.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics Nigeria’s population reached 167 million people in 2012 and about half of the population are youth, which NBS defined as individuals between 15 and 34 years of age. Half of them only have a primary school education or none at all. An analysis of regional demographics in youth population is in another post here.

The implications of Nigeria’s youth bulge are well articulated in the Nigeria: Next Generation Report here. We can either go boom or bust and the window of opportunity is here and closing. The youth population needs urgent intervention.

Nigeria’s Youth Policy suffers from a lack of buy-in, measurable outcomes or appropriations. While it acknowledges positive youth development defined here  it does nothing to actualise it in the policy and still treats youth as  problem to be solved, read a look at the policy here.

The policy is supposed to be developed with the National Youth Council, the Federal Ministry of Youth and a wide representation of youth . Unfortunately the NYC and the Ministry are hobbled by corruption and politics.  Attempts to review the current youth policy in 2012 fell apart.

A number of youth led or youth focused youth organisations emerged as leaders in the Nigerian youth development space. We’ll look at who they are and what distinguished them here. They are regularly partnered and funded by a handful of foreign funding organisations find more about them here.

More Nigerian individuals and corporations are implementing youth focused programs through philanthropy and CSR that address urgent issues of unemployment and conflict resolution. More about them and their models here. read more about the youth development sector in the global south in the Restless Development Mapping Report here.

I guess there must be a part 2, 3, 4 etc. Links will be activated asap.


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