Africa covers 6% of the earth and with 20% of land mass in the world. We have 54 states and 1.2 billion people from different ethnic backgrounds. Africa is projected to be 2.5 billion people by the year 2050 and that will be 25% of the world population. 60% of the 1.2 billion Africans are below the age of 25, while Africa is still a very young continent full of potential, growth and innovation. 720 million people in their prime currently live on the continent. Within the continent, the Nigerian population in 1960 was 45.14 million but by 1988 it had doubled to 90.45 million and by 2017 we were at 190.9million people, while in 2019 our population is 201 million people with 42.54% of this population between the age of 0-14. No doubt, 70% of Nigerian population is under the age of 35. As at 2017 world bank records show that Nigeria’s GDP was $1,968 per capita, meaning, for every Nigerian, if we divide all the money our country made that year, each individual will only get less than $2000.
Statistics.com projects that for 2019 our GDP per capita is 2,297. I trust my fellow Nigerian youths, we will bring out calculator and start converting dollars to Naira and even asking how come our government is not giving us this money, if they do we will all be alright. For the average Nigerian, that will be nearly N70,000 per month. But Alas GDP is all we make to provide the necessary amenities, fund development project, keep the whole country working and still support the people with welfare breaks and social housing so we can’t be entitled to the money per head for normal domestic life of eating and merry making because l can guarantee some people would use theirs to buy aso ebi and be at every Owanbe every weekend, which really isn’t bad thing but a sign of abundance , wealth and growth in the economy.
Luxembourg has the highest GDP in the world at $119,719 per capita followed by Norway’s $86,362, even US is 7th on the list with $64,906, Canada 18th position at 48,604 and UK 20th position at $45,491 per capita. With Nigeria at 106 on a list of 126 countries and with our population at over 200 million people, we are one of the poorest countries in the world and this is why so many young Nigerians seek the elusive dream of immigrating to other countries. Our GDP pays for infrastructure, education, salaries of government workers, security ( Police, Military ), electricity which is a main catalyst to development and eradication of poverty but with our per capital income what can the money really achieve?
The exodus of young Nigerians braving all types of terrain to go to better developed countries can be mitigated with just the provision of electricity, with our vast population and cheaper labour, a lot of manufacturing industries would come into Nigeria to set up shops , with our first language being English it gives us a major advantage in the world economic table. India was able to capitalise on the language and population and it saw a mass exodus of companies from the US, UK and other developed countries having IT surges and customer service centres setting up shops in the country. The more job creation the less inclined people would risk crossing the Mediterranean for a better life, which is not 100% guaranteed. Even life in these other developed countries is not picking money on the streets; as the adage goes, there is no food for a lazy man. Some people wake up as early as 5am to go to work and do all kinds of odd jobs, graduate or no graduate, if you do not work you do not eat. There is no free bee anywhere, everyone works and even when you work it’s very unlike Nigeria that you will be working and living in your parents home without contributing a dime. Here, you have to contribute for electricity, gas for heating, council tax, house rent or mortgage and also feed yourself and if you are married, both parties have to work unless one person makes way more than the other so the less breadwinner can be at home taking care of the kids because the cost of child care is enough to pay an average worker’s salary in the UK. There are also a lot of success stories as Nigerians are hard working people. In the US, Nigerians are the most successful ethnic group not of US origin because we work hard and study hard. A Nigerian can have Bsc, Msc, PhD and still go back to be a doctor. I had an uncle who after his first and second degrees still went back at 42 to study medicine and became a doctor at 49 and still practised for over 20 years in the UK.
The youths have a bright future ahead if we as Nigerians can harness our resources and population, we have so much land that farming can be a way out, mechanized farming where the government can lease land from land owners and get the infrastructure for cultivation and employ graduates or programmes that let graduates teach for a year on very good starting salaries , fix our electricity to foster manufacturing and small scale home grown companies.
Even though people say the dream is elusive, living outside our beloved and esteemed country, one has to put into consideration quality of life though the whole world is a bit topsy curvy in terms of security but people are living a better life , where they can get home and put on their fan or AC, eat what they want to eat, make sure their children have a more than average education or opportunity. When we look at Anthony Femi Joshua, would he have the same opportunities he has had if he was in Nigeria? He actually wanted to be in the boxing team for Nigeria but was not accepted. People, l have learnt as l grow in age, do what they need to do for themselves to have some form of happiness and stability. Even though for some people leaving home to other places is an elusive dream and attainment of success is slim, some say as long as they have peace of mind and can have basic amenities and not have too much security concerns and health care is available they would climb Everest to get there.
The elusive dream is being elusive of our own brilliance, not building our country for the 0-14 years old that currently is 42% of our population and by 2050 will probably be double that number. When l was younger l remember, there were all kinds of developmental ideas such as Vision 2010, Vision 2020 on by the government, l wonder what happened to all the visions. So many young Nigerians that should be best in the world in sports, in research, in inventions, in Arts and yet we let all the visions and talent stand still. No grass is greener anywhere if it isn’t watered.
Most Nigerians l have met in developed countries always say the same thing; ‘if Nigeria has constant electricity and security l would be Nigeria’. Now imagine a Nigeria with uninterrupted electricity and security, 80% of the Nigerians abroad will be back home, poverty will be eradicated by 80%, there will be self sufficiency, more international companies coming to set up and we would actually be what UK is to Europe, what Dubai is to the middle east with more disposable income, money circulating, no one will be waiting for government money, it will be a Nigeria of the 80’s where every family was self sufficient and the quest will be to stay in our country and merry and close the streets for parties.
•Dasilva-Cole is a Nigerian who lives in London, UK