Nigerian Youth: The Voice and Leadership to Change the Future

Wake up. 

Clock in. 

Check emails. 

“Fired.” “Furloughed.” “Laid off.” “Reduction in paychecks.” “Close of business.”

Reason: COVID-19. 

COVID-19 has greatly affected economies worldwide, creating high global unemployment rates. The impact of the pandemic on the workforce is much more drastic than originally anticipated, and though the job loss was quick, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) mentioned that there will not be an easy or swift recovery even with the considerable aspiration [1]. After the pandemic, the Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work suggest a better future and “better normal” for everyone stating that the choices we make now will be reflected in the future [1]. It’s our duty to act now, stop the spread of COVID-19, and build our economies back up. 

4 Youth By Youth can help.

Specifically in Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies, COVID-19 is taking its toll, increasing poverty rates and unemployment alike. It is the worst economic decline Nigeria has seen in the last 10 years with over 27% of people (21 million) currently living unemployed [2]. The beginning of the economic devastation resulted from the first lockdown while Nigeria’s unemployment averaged 23% before COVID-19 [3]. Although the lockdown measures have eased, the country has still not fully reopened, and the unemployment rate expects to increase to 33.5% [3]. The current extreme poverty levels are leading to food insecurity, national protesting, a rise in unemployment, and a dive into the country’s worst recession in 40 years [3]. 

Unlike other parts of the world, in Nigeria, a rise in unemployment didn’t only begin with COVID-19; COVID-19 escalated the already burdensome pre-existing youth unemployment. COVID-19 just peeled back the world’s eyes and threw high unemployment rates straight in its face; Nigeria is feeling the crisis. Nigerian youth have been through tough times with unemployment, but the worst is ahead.

During a pandemic, finding a job is nearly impossible. No one is hiring. Essential jobs are the only ones available throughout its entirety, and if you’re at extreme risk of the virus or disease, it’s evident you should just not even apply for a job. Vacations are halted; graduations are stopped; weddings are on hold. By December, Nigeria is expected to reach 39.4 million job losses [3]. 

But 4 Youth By Youth can help break the unemployment cycle. 

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 is to end extreme poverty by 2030. In 2019, Nigeria was ranked the poverty capital of the world [4]. Over the years, there has been a steady decrease in poverty, but COVID-19 has retracted the work thus far. Before COVID-19, 86.9 million Nigerians lived in extreme poverty, but about 91.6 million were expected to be in poverty in 2020 [3]. However, Nigerian youth can be the redeeming feature to this devastation.

Nigeria has about 210 million people, and more than 90 million of them (under 18 years old) are youth [5]. While youth are normally considered very determined and vigorous, they also are facing many obstacles, both pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19. 

“Nigerian Josh Okere prepares to hit the streets again looking for work. For nearly six years since graduation, he’s been seeking employment.

‘You set out from your house in the morning not knowing where you are going to, you’re just having that hope, that belief, that when you go out you’ll find something,’ he said” [6]. 

Finding a job for youth is tough on a normal day with many Nigerian challenges and much conflict, but with the added pandemic, job searching has become even more difficult. Nonetheless, Nigeria desires for a favorable and fortunate future for its youth. 

Luckily, 4 Youth By Youth can help foster Nigerian youth.

Education greatly contributes to youth unemployment. It can have an effect on an individual, household, and the whole economy. Innovation education generates a high standard of individuals who can compete in the workforce, decrease youth unemployment, and create new jobs. Education doesn’t have to be traditional but rather original and transferable. Creating appropriate education policies, offering funding to the education system, and promoting research can help the unemployment issue [5]. With education, Nigerian youth can create their voices, advocate for policy changes, and lead others in their journey to overcome unemployment.  

Aiding this aspiration, 4YBY encourages youth participation in innovation and entrepreneurship and focuses on clinical trials for young people by young people. 4YBY believes in youth involvement to create ideas for sustainability in health. The fostering of youth assists them in breaking the stigma and structural barriers associated with national insecurity and unemployment.  

The current youth in Nigeria is swimming in a pool of frustration rooted from insecurity and pressure from politics and the economy. As a youth individual, it’s hard to see a clear view of the future—of the breakthrough. However, the future is there.

To tackle health and unemployment in Nigeria, 4 Youth By Youth not only engages youth in health research but highlights and advances youths’ skills in research and innovation. 4YBY helps youth discover career and personal potential through activities and active involvement. Since 2018, 4YBY has engaged youth in seven different projects focusing on competency and advancing research skills but also diving into creative talents and professional growth. Through three crowdsourcing open calls, two crowdsourcing designations, an innovation training bootcamp, and a pilot trial, youth have steered design and implementation of their own, unique proposals. They have posed ideas to questions such as “How might we promote HIV self-testing among young people in Nigeria?” and “How will you promote HIV self-testing among young people during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?” to develop new HIV self-testing services and linkage strategies to youth-friendly services, keeping in mind key factors such as low-resource settings and sustainability. Youth have engaged in meaningful connections and conversations with both our teams and amongst each other to develop entrepreneurial skills through learning, observation, and conducting fieldwork. They have also worked towards implementing their proposed HIV self-test service strategies that included repackaging the HIV self-testing kits, promoting and distributing the packages at different events, and offering HIV self-testing kits in different Nigerian states. 4 Youth By Youth lives up to its name; we support and train youth to draw on their own talents, strengths, and preferences to design and implement interventions for their own generations. To build capacity within each other. To break through their unemployment chains. To construct a better tomorrow for themselves and their peers, youth. 

Youth is our focus for change and development. Youth is at our center. 4YBY strives for youth opportunity, empowers youth determination, and leads youth hope for a better future. 


  1. United Nations. (2020, June 30). Hard times forecast for global job recovery in 2020, warns UN labour agency chief | | UN News. United Nations. 
  2. Kazeem, Y. (2020, August 28). Here’s how COVID-19 has battered Africa’s largest economy. World Economic Forum. 
  3. Olurounbi, R. (2020, July 14). Nigeria: Pandemic to poverty in the post-COVID future. The Africa 
  4. Okunola, A. (2020, June 16). How COVID-19 Is Hitting Employment in Nigeria – and Pushing People Into Poverty. Global Citizen. 
  5. Klomegah, K. K. (2020, September 20). Nigeria’s Youth Face Growing Challenges. Modern Diplomacy. 
  6. Nigeria Struggles Against Unemployment, Extreme Poverty. Voice of America. (2018, December 3). 

1 Comment

  • January 26, 2021

    This is sweet stuff, its nice to be in the know.

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