5 things to know about Nigeria, a colossus with feet of clay
More than 84 million Nigerians are expected to vote on Saturday, February 23rd.
But do you know everything about Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s economic heavyweight?
The Afrobeats, a sound that makes the world dance
These are waves that are exported to all corners of the globe. But do not confuse the Afrobeats with Afrobeat – without – Fela Kuti, traditional rhythm mixing funk and jazz. The ambassadors of the Afrobeats – with – are today called Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Jidenna. And at the doors of the Afrobeats are jostling music majors, like Universal Music Group or Sony, who have established their offices in Nigeria, just for that.
According to DJ Rita Ray, the Afrobeats, “this West African phenomenon not only dominates the sound of the continent, it has spread to club festivals and radio stations around the world (…) and also influences genres…, from Grime to RnB, and the artists, from Ed Sheeran to rappers Drake and Stefflon Don.”
Born of a fusion of Nigerian music and Afro-pop Ghana, Afrobeats is also sprinkled with hiplife, Azonto, and dancehall. “What makes the Afrobeats so fascinating is the pace – Nigerians have always been passionate about rhythms, it’s the driving force behind their music,” says Rita Ray.
Writers in the big leagues
In Nigeria are some of the greatest authors in the world. Among them, the late Chinua Achebe, whose first novel, “Things Fall Apart (1958),” has become a classic in postcolonial literature. It has been sold to more than 20 million copies since its publication in 1958. The book has also been translated into 57 languages.
As for Wole Soyinka, he is the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Ben Okri is the first to win the coveted Man Booker Prize in 1991. And the next generation is assured and has nothing to envy to the old ones. Among the new talents that count today, the famous writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the face of feminism of this century.
Nigerians are known to consume proverbs without moderation on a daily basis, so it is not surprising that they are born storytellers. The powerful film industry, Nollywood, can also testify to Nigerians’ love for dramatic scenarios.
Youth, a huge potential
The Nigerian population keeps growing at breakneck speed. By 2047, it will even dethrone the United States to become the third largest country in the world with 387 million inhabitants, according to UN forecasts.
Nigeria also has the advantage of being a very young country, with more than 40% of the population under 14 years of age. It must be said that more than half of the registered voters are under the age of 35 and are already playing a crucial role in this election. Youth is indeed a great asset, especially economic, for Nigeria. This is all the more true as the workforce of the more developed countries ages. But it is also a real challenge for policymakers. Young graduates often complain about the reduced number of skilled jobs, and many do not hide their desire to leave the country.
Oil, but not enough electricity
Even though Nigerians are connected to the power grid, they can not do without these generators because of frequent power outages. And in some areas, the cuts can even last weeks… A paradox when we know that Nigeria is the largest oil producer, a vital windfall for state revenues. And despite this wealth, important social disparities exist in the country. Not to mention corruption, a plague in Nigeria.
According to the International Energy Agency, although electricity production has steadily increased since 2000, it has struggled to keep pace with population growth. Just over half of Nigerian households have access to electricity, but there is a big gap between urban and rural areas.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, more than four out of five households in cities have a power supply, but only one-third of rural households have one. In addition to being the largest producer of oil on the continent, Nigeria is also the largest economy, but its energy problems have hindered its growth.
The fief of Boko Haram
The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has caught the attention of the world. In 2014, the kidnapping of more than 200 girls in a school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria, by Boko Haram jihadists sparked a wave of outrage around the world.
The group was born in 2002 in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, where locals have dubbed it Boko Haram, which in Hausa means “Western education is forbidden.”
Andrew Walker, the author of a book on Boko Haram, explains that “the idea that corrupt politicians were not Islamic has become a stepping stone for Muslim Mohammed Yusuf to found Boko Haram.” The death of Mohammed Yusuf almost a decade ago led the group to launch military operations with the aim of creating an Islamic state. Thousands of people have been abducted and others recruited into its ranks. The group even captured entire areas of the territory in three states, imposing strict sharia law.
At its peak, in 2015, Boko Haram was rated by the Institute for Economics and Peace as the world’s deadliest terrorist group. But over the past four years, the military, with the support of the international community, has managed to regain control of much of the lost territory and to rescue many of those who have been taken, hostage. However, the Boko Haram threat is not neutralized and still makes waves. To date, there are still 112 schoolgirls in Chibok missing.