Challenges in Nigeria and Solutions on How to Resolve them
What Are the Problems Facing Nigeria Today?
Nigeria has many problems. These problems are but not limited to:
- Crime and terrorism, specifically Boko Haram insurgency
- Education and university systems
- The environment
- Road accident
It would be impossible to thoroughly examine all of these issues in just one article, so think of this as an introduction.
Nigeria’s Biggest Problem Is Corruption; Very Sad
Corruption is at the root of many of Nigeria’s problems in totality. Corruption takes many forms and infiltrates all political institutions and economic sectors.
The current ruling government is not performing its functions as promised, and officials are too busy enriching their pockets to govern effectively. In 2013, Transparency International deemed Nigeria one of the most corrupt nations in the world, ranking as 144th in Corruption Perception Index out of the 177 countries measured. Mathematically, it shows that Nigeria was the 33rd most corrupt country in 2013. In the year 2012, a Gallup poll found that 94% of Nigerians thought corruption was widespread in their government. The spoils of political corruption—billions of US dollars—are stashed in foreign bank accounts. The Abacha administration in the 1990s notoriously looted upwards of $3 billion. Since then, government institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the former President Goodluck Jonathan have vowed to eradicate corruption. Even so, as recently as 2013, the Central Bank of Nigeria reported the 76% of the country’s crude oil revenue intended for the Bank was unaccounted for.
The most currently released result on the level of corruption in Nigeria has improved when compared to that of 2013 and other years. In the 2014 result on corruption ranking, Nigeria is ranked 136 out 174 surveyed countries. This implies that Nigeria is the 38th most corrupt nation in 2014. The result was published by Transparency international on Wednesday, 3rd December, 2014. The result shows that former President Goodluck Jonathan administration was making impact to bring down the corruption level in Nigeria.
The current president, President Mohammed Buhari, is putting his own efforts to bring corruption in the country to the minimal level. This made few who looted in the past regime to bring back some of the money they embezzled.
Election-rigging is not unheard of in Nigeria. The citizens of Nigeria are tired of coming out to cast their votes on election day only to feel their votes haven’t been counted. A Foreign Affairs investigation of the 2007 elections counted around 700 election-related violent acts in the year leading up to the elections, including two assassinations. International observers in 2007 reported rampant theft of ballot boxes, and while in 2011 the situation improved, ballot-rigging was still rampant. During elections, Nigerians and international watchdog groups tell stories of thugs hired by candidates to hijack the ballot boxes and intimidate voters. Many of these thugs are disaffected and unemployed youth.
Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on 2nd October, 2014, reported that European Union (EU) Committed 15 Million Euros (€15,000,000) in the country’s 2015 election. How will the money be utilized? Will the money be solely used for what it is meant for? Only God knows what those who are ruling the election body will use it for what it is made for or embezzle it as corruption in the country is experienced more in public sector.
Corruption doesn’t only exist in government, but is pervasive in society. For example, what happens in some companies with a male CEOs when a woman applies for a job? Unless they already know them, some of the CEOs demands special and sexual favors from young women seeking employment and at times do not hire them in the end. Those at the top adopt an attitude of “if I do no not already know you, I’m not going to hire you,” and exploit their power—this is just one illustration. Those who do not have connections to top officials or executives remain jobless, even if they’re university graduates with top marks. Gender and education will be discussed later, but this is a concrete example of how systemic corruption perpetuates a host of problems in Nigeria.
The press is hamstrung in its efforts to report corruption and election-rigging. Some have been paid off by the governments they report on, a practice which produces weak news and must be stopped. In 2013 the Committee to Protect Journalists, an American NGO which evaluates press freedom around the world, added Nigeria to their impunity list, a list of of countries where journalists are routinely harassed and murdered with little to no recourse.
Though President Muhamed Buhari administration is working hard to see that election-rigging in Nigeria is eliminated, much more needs to be done. Seminars should be organised for Nigerian youths to be taught the dangers of working as thugs for politicians. This is where importance of youth empowerment comes to play. Television channels in the country should be used to educate the nation about corruption and how to stop it. Political candidates found guilty of election-rigging should be punished more frequently and harshly. If convicting corrupt politicians becomes normal others will learn, and with time, election-rigging in Nigeria can be made a thing of the past.
It is true that Nigeria is blessed with crude oil (petroleum) but the question is on how correct is the volumes that are exported out of the country. For instance a head in one oil servicing company in the country may export about one thousand barrels of crude oil from the country and went back and gave a report to the government that he exported five hundred barrels. What happens to the remaining five hundred? The money goes into his personal account-corruption in the higher order.
Corruption is also rampant among Nigerian businessmen and woman. How many have bought any electronic product with a particular capacity and the product gives him or her result of what is written on it? In Nigeria, many populations of those who deal in electronic products buy products of particular lower capacity and use their own manufactured stickers to high the capacity on the products. For instance, a businessman may buy a Tiger generator of 4.5h.p (horsepower) and change the capacity to 6.5h.p to sell at higher price. In other business sectors, some sell inferior products to costumers to make high profits. There had been lots of cases of misunderstanding in the country’s market places between sellers and buyers because of inferior products sold to the buyers.
Boko Haram and Terrorism in Nigeria
Terrorist attacks are on the rise in Nigeria, which is the increased activities of Boko Haram over the past year. Bombings, kidnappings, and other violent activities of Boko Haram prevent many Nigerians from feeling safe.
Boko Haram is a well-known agent of destruction in Nigeria. Even a casual observer who doesn’t live in Nigeria has likely heard of Boko Haram’s recent 2014 kidnappings of hundreds of children—mostly girls—from schools and villages in northern Nigeria. On the night of 14-15 April 2014, about 276 Chibok school girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram. These girls were between 17 to 18 years according to a source. They were secondary school students at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. Only God knows the nature of what is in-between the legs of the female students at the moment. In the northern part of the country, students cannot complete their studies because of the looming threat of kidnapping and murder.
The news report from Channels Television of Nigeria (The best television station of the year) on June 18, 2014, had it that Boko Haram killed 15 students from bomb blast in a school at Kano state of the country.
What is Boko Haram? It is a militant Islamist movement with ties to Al-Qaeda whose name translates into "Western education is forbidden." Their ideology is based on a fundamentalist Sunni Islam, and their intent is to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and cleanse the country of any and all Western influence.
Boko Haram’s campaign of bombing, shootings, and kidnapping was launched in July 2009, but has recently intensified. On 1 May 2014, International Workers’ Day, a car bomb blast in Abuja killed at least 19 people at a bus station. The summer of 2014 has been especially violent, with bombings, massacres, and mass shootings being committed on a near-weekly basis. In July 2014, Human Rights Watch estimated 2,053 people had been killed in 95 separate Boko Haram-linked attacks in the first half of 2014 alone, and the number is likely much higher by now. Thousands more have been displaced by the violence.
There was bomb explosion at the Bauchi Central Market on December 22, 2014 at about 17:30hrs. As a result of the blast, the market was in flames. At the early hours of the bast, 19 persons died in the incidence and 25 injured.
Boko Haram in the most recent time has adopted new method of terrorizing Nigeria. These wicked souls now use children for carrying out their evil motives of suicide bombing. When they enter any community, they make sure that they gather enough little children to work for them. According to a Nigerian newspaper report, on Sunday 22 February 2014, a girl of not more than eight years indulged in suicide bombing in Potiskum market which killed about five and injured many.
Crime and Problems of Public Safety in Nigeria
The Nigerian crime problem gives many citizens in this country sleepless nights. In many places, people feel they can no longer walk around their own neighborhoods unharmed. Public safety is the most fundamental responsibility of any state, and Nigeria has failed in this regard.
Please bear with a personal anecdote on the subject. I have a friend by the name of Sampson C. On 13 June 2013, Sampson was heading to a night vigil at Onitsha in Anambra when a group of young men stopped him. They took everything he had on him. He pleaded with them saying, “Collect everything you want, but give me my wallet back because I have some important documents in it.” The young men refused, and took the documents which were of no use to them. This situtation is pitiable and is a typical example of rampant petty crime in Nigeria.
As of 2004, Nigeria has a high murder rate: 17.7 homicides per every 100,000 people. Mugging and piracy are endemic. An overall increase in crime against foreigners in particular led the US State Department to consider the situation in Nigeria as “critical” in 2013. People around the world cannot even browse the Internet without fear of being scammed by Nigerians looking to make money overnight.
One cause of Nigerian crime is the drug trade, in which organized criminal groups in Nigeria are heavily involved. According to the American FBI, ethnic Nigerians in India, Pakistan, and Thailand provide Nigerian gangs with easy access to 90% of the world's heroin supply.
People engage in illegal and bad activities when they are frustrated with legitimate options. Lack of opportunity makes them indulge in criminal acts, and their actions make the whole nation look bad. Instead of allowing persistent unemployment to continue, the government should increase security in the country and hire youth as security agents.
Kidnapping activity in Nigeria is growing fast like grasses in the river side that have water in abundance. This has come to the extent of kidnapping the country’s kids to be released on ransom. The Lawanson Road, Itire abode of the Orekoyas, whose three children were kidnapped by a housemaid last Wednesday, 24 hours after she was employed, became a Mecca of sorts of yesterday, following news of their discovery (Vanguard News, April 16 2015). This is a kidnapping incident that took place in Lagos state of Nigeria, whereby a housemaid kidnapped 3 children and demanded fifteen million naira as ransom (N15 million), and after payment of the ransom the children released in an uncompleted building in the state.
Unemployment in Nigeria
Unemployment is a hot issue in Nigeria, and many people are frustrated with widespread joblessness. Unemployment in Nigeria is like a disease that the cure is not yet discovered. According to official statistics, 24% of Nigerians are unemployed. These numbers are worse for young people. Official Nigerian statistics say 38% of those under 24 are unemployed, but the World Bank estimates this number to be closer to 80%. In March 2014, 16 people were killed in stampedes when 500,000 desperate job-seekers rushed to apply for under 5,000 vacancies at the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Students at tertiary educational institutions often graduate into joblessness and low morale. There is a great challenge in Nigeria education. Many Nigerian graduates did not learn good skills during their studies. They were busy reading only textbooks without knowing the applications of what they read. They apply for jobs for which they aren't hired because they lack skills. Graduates often must stay in their parents’ homes for a long time, with mounting frustration and pessimism. This negativity is one of the major root causes of crime among young people in Nigeria, as they turn to unscrupulous activities because there is nothing else to occupy their time or generate income. Each year, 200,000 students graduate from universities, but many fail to find a job, and some will seek out less-than-honorable means of supporting themselves.
Encouraging acquisition of skills will go a long way in solving Nigerians unemployment challenge. Both the government and the individuals should work hand in hand to reduce unemployment. Another alternative to solving unemployment issue in Nigeria is through self-discovery. Embracing the opportunities offered by the internet is a welcomed idea in solving Nigerians unemployment challenge. Among them include application design and online publication. Online publication helps in discovering how to write. Nigerians can write on Hubpages which is where this article is published. People who are interested can signup and the site management will train them on how to use the platform and make money through advertisement placed by merchants. This forum does not require any money to start-up and the management directs the writers on how to get paid.
Problems in Nigeria's Educational System and Universities
There is also a lot of corruption in the Nigerian educational system, particularly universities. Lecturers are known to collect money from students in exchange for good grades. Some say they have to bribe university administrators in order to have their exam results compiled and submitted to the (required) National Youth Service Corps.
In August 2014, Nigeria’s own Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) reported that corruption was endemic to Nigerian universities, due to continual failure to make violators accountable for their actions. The Chairman of the ICPC’s University System Study Review, Professor Olu Aina, said there was a lack “political will” to deal with corruption violations, few internal checks and balances in universities to prevent corruption, and little external oversight of corrupt practices.
Beyond political corruption, the Nigerian education system suffers in other ways. It compares poorly not only to those of developed Western nations, but also to other African countries like Ghana and South Africa. In 1997 and 2000, federal government expenditure on education was below 10% of the overall budget. The money appropriated to the education sector in the 2013 budget was ₦426.53 billion which amounts to only 8.67% of the total budget (₦4.92 trillion). The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommends that the education sector accounts for 26% of national budgets in order to impact national development.
What proportion of Nigerian students quite from school? According to Channels Television Station report on 9th September 2014, over 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school. This shows the literacy level of the country. According to the guest on Channels Television who gave the statistics, he stated that the problem of Boko Haram in Nigeria today is because they were not in schools when they were young. He went further to say that they were fed with wrong information and because of that lacked knowledge, and when they lacked knowledge they lacked wisdom. So, they are a problem to the country because they lacked knowledge which they would have gained if they went to school (Boko Haram).
Inadequate Infrastructure in Nigeria
Infrastructure may seem a trivial issue following other problems like Boko Haram, but how can a country progress without a reliable power supply? The power sector is corrupt and mismanaged, and many workers in the electricity sector are not equipped with the proper skills or training. Domestic production suffers in these conditions, but many foreign companies also find it difficult to conduct business in Nigeria because of frequent power failures. This problem keeps Nigeria a Third World country from year to year.
Also, what do we have to say on the state of Nigerian road networks? Business suffers without a dependable road system. Corruption and the embezzlement of public funds keep roadways in disrepair. In 2011, the World Bank reported that only 67% of paved roads and 33% of unpaved roads were in good or fair condition. Between 2001 and 2006, only $50 million of the needed $240 million were allocated for road maintenance.
Similar issues of inadequacy and corruption can be seen in the water resources and railways. Nigeria needs to tackle the challenge its infrastructure problems by providing the proper funding and cracking down on the embezzlement of public funds earmarked for infrastructure. Any engineer or contractor that fails to do his work well should be taken to task.
Nigeria needs more power and better roads. The workers in these sectors should be paid well, and those with good skills and strong ethics should be rewarded. Citizens should carry out a peaceful movement, telling the government how important the power supply is to the country.
Environmental and Public Health Issues in Nigeria
The environmental and health standards of Nigeria are in a bad state. In 2013, Amnesty International reported that Nigeria experiences hundreds of oil spills per year in the Niger Delta, largely due to pipe erosion, sabotage, and neglect by oil companies. Oil spills weaken the micro-organisms and the soil nutrients, and this weakening harms communities who fish and farm the Delta as well as the overall economy. Littered waste is scattered all over the roads and streets in Nigeria. Improperly disposed garbage contributes to the spread of disease.
The health system in Nigeria does not adequately serve the population. The average Nigerian life expectancy is 38.3, according to the World Health Report, one of the lower life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa. Infant mortality has been on the rise since the 1990s, and the maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. The Nigerian health system is poorly funded, and this lack of resources creates a “brain drain”: talented doctors and nurses find jobs in developed countries, leaving Nigerian hospitals in the hands of their less-talented colleagues. Within Nigeria, good doctors are dis-proportionally concentrated in cities, leaving rural areas under-served.
In the recent time, there is a health challenge in the country resulted by Ebola virus. This disease entered the country through an official from Liberia, Patrick Sawya. The doctors in the country are doing the much they could to bridge the spread of the disease. At the initial stage when the disease was contacted by few Nigerians, there came a rumour that the disease can be cured by table salt. Many citizens of the country dissolved salt in water and drank and some took bath with it and this led to the death of about eighteen while many others hospitalized, which is more than what have been killed by the virus. The statistics of people who have been killed by the virus as of on 17th September 2014 were seven and fifteen infected recorded in Lagos state of Nigeria. African Development Bank (ADB) issued one million dollars to Nigeria in September 2014 to assist in fight against Ebola virus.
The government needs to play a bigger role in providing proper waste disposal systems and better healthcare, particularly in neglected rural areas. Environmentally sustainable disposal practices, like recycling, should be adopted. Those who vandalize oil pipelines should be pursued more aggressively and punished for causing oil spills. Bush burning must be limited so that the micro-organisms that promote crops output can thrive. Hospitals need better funding. The state must take steps to keep qualified young doctors in the country, perhaps by giving them more important roles in public health administration.
Nigerian Women's Issues
Many people in Nigeria still believe that only men should be in positions of power. There are many causes of gender inequality in Nigeria. Some archaic traditions and customs do not permit women to occupy top professions or political offices. As a result, women in Nigeria face discrimination and violence. Unemployment in Nigeria affects the women most when compared with that of men. This is due to the fact that some women are neglected due to their sex and weaknesses. Because of such, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience Jonathan, and other women in the country came up to empower Nigeria women to the best of their capacities.
As of 2011 there are only 32 women (out of 469) in the national parliament. Women’s status in Nigeria is improving in some ways, though. In 2011, President Jonathan appointed a cabinet made of 33% women, something unheard of previously. With women’s participation in politics and elections slowly increasing, we may see more female candidates for office in the future. The old customs and beliefs about women’s roles need to be updated.
Civic Pride and Patriotism in Nigeria
Nigeria suffers from a deficit of civic pride and collective responsibility. Wealthy Nigerians do little to use what they have to help the masses. Instead, they transfer their money to foreign banks rather than making it useful for the nation. When these wealthy men want to go on holiday, they travel to United States or Canada, and many migrate to the developed world rather than spend their money here.
Citizens should cherish the goods manufactured in Nigeria, and wealthy Nigerians should invest their money in local industry to encourage development. With this, more jobs will be created for the masses. Economic freedom should be encouraged in the country for better business growth.
This lack of civic engagement has real economic consequences. The masses do not purchase the goods manufactured in Nigeria because they believe they are inferior. Instead they spend money on goods created in Europe, which doesn’t benefit businesses or ordinary workers in Nigeria. When local industry is discouraged, the Nigerian government spends more on imported goods. Even as an exporter of crude oil, Nigeria imports its refined oil from other countries.
Road Accident: Trending Problem in Nigeria
Road accident is another trending challenge in Nigeria. Many citizens of Nigeria have lost their lives in road accidents. Before, it was air accidents by flights that were being experienced in the country until the government of the federation looked into it and had the problem tackled. So many have their future shattered and others have lost focus because of careless accidents by road in the country. At around 3p.m on Sunday 31st May, 2015, break failure on a tanker carrying petroleum product killed not less than 80 people at Upper Iweka, Onitsha Anambra state of Nigeria. There was death of over 20 university undergraduates from University of Nigeria Nsukka on road accidents. The accident occurred on Tuesday, 2nd of June 2015. These students were the hope of their parents whom have been training them for years in the university. The instances given are just few among many road accidents that take place in the country. High statistics of lives are being lost in Nigeria on road accidents every year.
The government of Nigeria should implement and enforce law that will be guiding drivers who drive on the roads. This should include monitoring every transportation company to make sure that they have qualified automobile engineers that check their cars before they embark on any transportation. Also, the time through which the vehicles run on the highways should as well be taken care of. Nigeria has lost a lot of lives through tankers transporting highly inflammable liquids and we do not want more of that tragic experience any longer. Cars which travel by roads should be “healthy” enough to prevent lost of lives.
The Way Forward: the Youth Can Transform Nigeria
The only way Nigeria can solve its many problems is by giving the youth more opportunities to participate in the government, economy, and society. Young people are the prime beneficiaries of school improvement, and the percentage of youth in higher learning institutions is currently very high. If young people were in charge, the educational system in Nigeria would not be in its current state, and unemployment would be reduced.
At the same time, young people shouldn’t wait for good things to come to them, but need to take individual initiative. Youth empowerment and initiative will improve life for all Nigerians. Nigerian government officials and other elites need to share power with the country’s youth and listen to young peoples’ ideas for how to better the country. The young men and women of Nigeria are tomorrow’s elders and, if included, could transform Nigeria. Without the energy of youth, society will decay and perish.
In addition to minimizing of corruption in the country, Nigerians should cultivate the habit of being patient. Why many indulge in corrupt practices is because they are impatient and want to make quick money. In developed countries of the world like the United States, many Nigerians are locked up in the prisons and some have been killed because of the corrupt practices they practiced.
Discussed are the major challenges that Nigeria is facing for some time now. These challenges are many though not all of them were properly detailed out. On the other hand, the piece is backed-up with the possible solutions to arrest the challenges. It is believed that the situation of the country will get better if these solutions are put into action by both the government and citizens of Nigeria. Nigeria is our country and we can build it with combined effort. Let there be peace and you be an agent of peace.
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•Idris Alao (2013), Does Nigerian Education System Prepare Students for the Work Environment, retrieved August 3, 2013, Naija Writers Coach Publication.
•ISHOLA BALOGUN and EBUN SESSOU (2012), As Boko Haram’s attack increases, Death Toll rises, retrieved August 1, 2013, Vanguard Online news Publication.
•Mahmoud Sarki Saleh M and Madori (2013), Education: problems and challenges in Nigeria, what to be done?, retrieved August 2, 2013, Daily Trust Publication.
.Nigerian Television Authority (2014), European Union (EU) Commits 15 Million Euros in Nigerian's 2015 election.
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Corruption is the biggest among the challenges in Nigeria. It is clear to every citizen of Nigeria that the level of corruption in the country is high.