Youth in Nigeria
Youth in Nigeria includes citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria aged 18–35 years. Variance in chronologies are used in defining youth and are addressed by members of the state in accordance to their particular society. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with one of the largest populations of youth in the world, comprising 33,652,424 members. Excessive mortality from HIV/AIDS results in low life expectancy in Nigeria. As a result, the median age is 17.9.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, formerly the President of Nigeria from 1999 until 2007, believes that identifying and addressing issues that would enhance the lives of the youth would improve overall national development. He has stated that, "Youth constitute Nigeria's only hope for a real future". The Nigerian government characterizes youth as ambitious, enthusiastic, energetic and promising. They are considered vulnerable in society because of the rapid pace of change they experience at this time in their lives. A National Youth Development Policy was created and designed to advocate for youth and youth development. The policy views youth welfare as vital to the Nigerian nation and its socioeconomic development. This policy is seen as a youth participation project, versus a project identifying problems and needs.
National Youth Policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
The 2009 National Youth Policy recognizes 5 priority areas that need to be addressed to enhance youth lives. These include the impact of globalization, access and use of communication technology, the impact of STDs and HIV/AIDS, intergenerational issues in an aging society, and youth perpetrators and victims of armed conflict. The 2009 National Youth Policy is guided by several national and international policy initiatives, including National Policies for education, gender, health, population for sustainable development, and the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS). The Millennium Development Goals, the African Youth Charter, and other international agreements further guide the policy goals found in the document.
National Youth Policy prioritizes the difficulties women have faced throughout history. Some women experience less occupational opportunity, physical violence and abuse, and labor exploitation. They suffer negative consequences from teenage marriages and pregnancies. The policy seeks to protect their rights and promote female youths' interests and goals. By empowering females, restoring their dignity, establishing programs to end gender-based discrimination and promoting the rights, Nigerian youth policy places emphasis on the needs of young women.
The National Youth Policy has adopted a program for youth that are disabled. The Federal Republic of Nigeria believes that persons with disabilities have rights that should be protected by the government. The program promotes awareness of struggles that the disabled face, removing negative attitudes, while empowering the young men and women with disabilities.
Most Nigerians live in extended large families with separate living quarters. A Nigerian child may be breastfed until the age of 2. Mothers believe there is a bond created between mother and child by breastfeeding. Educating children is regarded as a community responsibility in some ethnic groups. Parenting styles differ among cultures in Nigeria. Nigerian children adapt to one of three roles: authoritarian, authoritative, or permissive, depending on their culture.
Both boys and girls learn to be responsible and hard-working at age 5. Boys contribute to routine tasks outside the home such as helping with the livestock, and helping in the fields. Girls contribute inside the home by cooking and cleaning. Elders tend to value boys higher than girls for their physical abilities and their ancestry. First, fifth, tenth, and fifteenth birthdays are marked by a large gathering for socializing and food and drink consumption as a traditional celebration.
Nigerian urban youth develop romantic relationships that are kept a secret. Urban Nigerians are increasingly accepting meeting publicly; romantic relationships often lead to marriage. Cohabitation in urban areas is increasingly accepted prior to marriage while a romantic couple saves money to marry.
Marriage is a coming of age practice among some ethnic groups. The legal minimum age to marry is 18 in most regions. Coming of age practices vary among different cultures. The Tiv people perform a ritual by marking a girl's abdomen with four incisions to make sure they are capable of conceiving a child. The Okrika Tribe hold ceremonies to mark the stage when girls are ready for marriage. These girls are painted and judged by characteristics such as beauty, grace and chastity. The girls then run a race with young men chasing them. Muslim people arrange marriages for their daughters, placing the male's family finances as an influential factor when choosing her husband. Girls are expected to marry soon after finishing school.
Educating youth in Nigeria is prioritized with the goal of reducing poverty, inequality, and overall increasing economic growth. Youth in Nigeria school system consists of six years of primary education, three years of junior secondary, three years of senior secondary, and four years of tertiary education. Primary school completion rates are 93% for males, and 91% for females.
It is a requirement for every child in Nigeria to receive a minimum of nine years of free education. The government's dominant role with funding provides funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and Education Trust Fund (ETF). Some of the problems Nigerian youth face in education are unbiased access to junior secondary, and senior secondary education for the poor, and the need to adjust the school curriculum to focus on the transition from school to labour economics. The National Youth Policy has implemented a variety of focuses in hopes to improve overall quality of education. These focal points include: development of critical fields of knowledge in applied science and technology, technical skills, vocational skills in agriculture, and promotion of the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The policy developed leadership roles and life training skills which seek to keep youth focused on education, politics and overall youth agency. The youth are encouraged to partake in a variety of programs including: gang related violence prevention programs, Extra-curricular competitive and recreational game activities through organizations, and a student union was launched encouraging leadership roles for youth and democratic culture.
Labor and employment
Individuals in Nigeria can legally work when they are 15 years old. Data on youth employment in Nigeria are scarce due to underresourced agencies responsible for their collection. Eleven million youth unemployment in Nigeria were believed to be unemployed in 2012.
Nigerian youth have experienced increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) and HIV/AIDS. Prevalence of female youth STD contraction is 17.2%. HIV/AIDS prevalence among all youth is 5.2%, compared to the national prevalence at 4.4%.The Federal Government of Nigeria National Youth Policy attempts to mitigate prevalence by providing care, treatment and support for infected young people. In doing so, government promotes prevention activities through risk reduction, abstinence, and condom use.
STD and HIV/AIDS contraction can cause serious, permanent health issues, infertility, death and social consequences such as social exclusion. Many social factors contribute to the rates of contraction. Advancements in information communication technology expose youth to a variety of values and ways of thinking which differ from their elder generations. Cultural norms serve as barriers to protect themselves in many cultures. Condom use is not a common practice.
Infection rates among youth vary according to gender, region, education, marital status, and other factors. Gender norms constrain youth women from controlling their reproductive and sexual lives. The highest rates of infection happen in the north-central part of the country (with Benue State having the highest prevalence rate), lowest in the Northeast. Urban areas have the higher rates than rural places of residency. Youth with little or no education compromised 1.3% of infected youth, in contrast to higher levels of education whose rates were 4.7%. Prevalence of contraction was higher among youth who had never been married at 2.6%, in contrast to those who were married, 1.8%. Premarital sex is common, even though it is considered a taboo in many ethnic groups. It is common in urban areas for inter-ethnic dating to occur, though inter-religious dating does not occur. Youth who had previous education and testing of HIV/AIDS had higher rates of STD contraction in contrast to those who had no awareness of HIV/AIDS.
Nigerian youth have the right to vote in political elections at 18 years of age. Nigerian youth are campaigning for reduction in age qualification for political position with the Not Too Young To Run bill, which seeks to reduce the age too run for President from 40years to 30years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State of Assembly 30 to 25.
Youth in armed conflict
Since the Post Cold War era, oil based revenues and its disbursements in the Niger Delta region has led to massive protests and violence among youth. Young people have engaged in attacks against oil firms and Nigerian militants, hostage taking and hijacking oil workers, youth militancy, vandalizing oil pipelines, and detonating bombs. Tension in the public has caused conflict among minority and majority groups which has crippled national and social development. The youth's participation in violence is their way of expressing feelings of marginalization and that their voices are not heard in competing for resources.
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