By Yemisi Adegoke & Kelechi Anozia
According to the first ever Youth Wellbeing Index the answer is, yes.
The study, conducted by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), polled youth in 30 countries and rated them in six areas: “citizen participation, economic opportunity, health, information and communication technology and safety and security.”
Nigeria ranked bottom in five out of the six areas: economic opportunity, health, information and communication technology and safety and security.
Fresh off the heels of the NIS tragedy in February where at least 17 youth died from stampedes across the country in search of employment, coupled with near constant industrial action in the nations schools, corruption and instability, is the IYF study a true reflection of the feelings of young people in Nigeria?
We spoke to eight young people to try and find out:
Adaeze, 23, Student, Enugu
Chinenye, 24, Graduate, Abuja,
Kosi, 23, Graduate, Enugu
Onah, 26, Youth corper, Lagos
Miracle, 22, Student, Enugu
Sessi, 28, Financial auditor, Lagos
Olanma, 19, Student, Enugu
Lois, 26, Graduate, Lagos
Are you surprised by the report revealing Nigerian youth to be the unhappiest in the world?
Lois: I’m so not surprised and I so agree. The youth of this frigging country have nothing to be happy about. They watch their parents (retired) struggle and even die in the process of getting their rights. Most of them grew up in lower middle class to poor homes, most of them are wise and ambitious but over and over again they don’t get to live their dreams because there’s no structure to help them.
Olanma: I’m surprised. The Nigerian economy is not the best there is, but there are countries in worse conditions. I choose not to believe that Nigerian youth are the least happy.
Onah: I’m not surprised that Nigerian youth are the least happy in the world, they’ve been manipulated to suit the immediate needs of the so called elite (politicians). Also, the Nigerian youths have refused to take their destinies into their own hands, they have forgotten that total happiness lies within.
Kosi: Least happy? Who gave the stats? Did they actually take polls from Nigerian youths?
Chinenye:The youth are not sad per se , they are scared of the things happening around them and what people, parents and teachers expect of them.
Miracle: It’s not farfetched. The three basic things that top the priority of youths all over the world are being denied youths here in Nigeria in broad daylight. What is more shocking is the fact that these things have not been given to us as due to a lack of inadequacy but simply due to sheer corruption and greed.
In the area of ‘economic opportunities for youth,’ Nigeria ranked 27th out of 30. Do you think this is an accurate reflection of what’s happening here?
Chinenye: I think that youths are busy trying so hard to get good grades and white collar jobs…and this kills any ounce of entrepreneurship. We have been made to understand that once you have good grades a job await you.We rely so much on the government to provide for us and it’s crippling society.
Onah: I will say to a very large extent it’s a true reflection of what’s happening at the moment .The land tenure system in the country is unfavourable in terms of doing business. Successive Nigerian governments have failed to provide basic amenities such as constant power, good road networks etc
Olanma: Nigerian youth these days, are more concerned with acquiring wealth and properties than enjoying each day as it comes. and that mentality is very bad for the health.
Nigeria was also ranked bottom in terms of education and it’s said Nigerians are among the highest in terms of people seeking to study overseas.
Kosi: We know our educational system is messed up and a lot of us want to study abroad…
Sessi: The educational system is in an ever- increasing downward spiral, with little hope for those whose parents cannot afford private education.
Chinenye: I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but it’s not as it should be. Most of the lectures are taught with outdated notes. The old and shrivelled lecturers have refused to retire to give way for the young ones, because they may not be paid pension and all that. So the old ones falsify their age to stay employed and the young ones remain unemployed.
Onah: I’m a graduate of one of the state government owned universities in the country and I will tell you that the educational system in the country is not up to standard compared to other developed countries. I graduated from a system where we don’t have a functional library, it’s ill equipped and packed with outdated text books…yet the state Governor will visit and instead of attending to those issues he will give the students union leaders money to continually get their support
Olanma: The Nigerian education system could be much better than it is right now in terms of practical study and is very likely amongst the bottom ranking countries. Many Nigerian students with not very high grades go overseas and top classes because they are provided with the necessary learning environment.
Australia was the country where youth were found to be the happiest followed by Sweden, South Korea, the UK and Germany respectively. Would you consider leaving Nigeria to live elsewhere?
Chinenye: I wouldn’t want to live outside Nigeria, because there are lots of things to achieve. If only the youths will be made to understand that life is not all about white collar jobs.
Sessi: If I had a choice, I would consider leaving Naija. I believe third class citizens in developed countries are treated even better than ourselves who claim we are first-class citizens in our own homeland
Kosi: I would live outside the country on condition. I still love this place, people here in Naija are making it big. People with sense and talent are exploiting opportunities, making money and fame.
Olanma: There’s nowhere else I’d rather live. Sure I’d like to visit other countries but there’s no place like Nigeria, rich in natural resources and void of natural disasters
Onah: I cannot leave Nigeria to another county where the youths seem happy because running away means I have been defeated. I can only visit those countries and replicate what they’re doing over here I believe I’m part of the solution not the problem.
Adaeze: Probably not, in my opinion no matter how bad it is in your own country its way worse in a country that is not yours. In a country that’s not your own,you’ll always be treated as a second class citizen. That can never happen in ones own country.
What do you think are some of the key issues facing Nigerian youth today?
Kosi: Key issues facing us is more of the fact that in our society It’s more difficult to start up and sustain a business. The banking system is pretty messed up too. I know countries where as a new business owner, you get interest free loans from banks. Here, they chase you away with huge interest and when you make it, they start running after you to bank with them.
Onah:The key issue with the Nigerian youth is that, they have problems with their attitude and they have refused to believe that their destinies lie in their own hands.
Adaeze: Problems facing the youths include bad educational system, no job prospects or opportunities.
Sessi: [The] Right to good education and even basic amenities are not readily available due to global exposure, they are fully aware they are at a disadvantaged position in the world.
What do you think can be done to make Nigerian youth happier?
Olanma: Either give them all the money and material things they want, or somehow teach them to be content with what they have and who they are and to enjoy every moment of their lives like it’s the last.
Miracle: We must revive our economy, we must place back youth welfare on top of our priority list. The things that lead to a battered economy like crime are aided by youths, when youths are angry, their young blood can’t resist the lure of being busy so then engage in vices, they contribute to the societal decadence, all the things that can crash an economy are propagated by youths. Until we try to go back to the basics of providing food, shelter and clothing, only then will we have taken that major first step towards this journey of a thousand miles.
Onah: I think Nigerian youths can make themselves happy by changing their attitudes always thinking positive and knowing that true happiness lies within them
Chinenye: [They should] Find a need and meet it. We can only move forward, our population keeps increasing which will lead to more demand for food, clothes, technology.
What do you think of the study’s findings? Are Nigeria’s youth unhappy?