THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUTH BULGE AND DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB IN BAYELSA STATE
1.1 Background of Study
The human demography historically has been a dynamic one, moving in a geometric progression especially in this modern age. This is truism in most developing countries or least developed countries. In an attempt to explain the present worlds human population, Joel Cohen, a professor in demographic studies made this submission, that ‘presently a billion people are chronically hungry, that is they wake up hungry and go to sleep hungry; again another billion people are living in slums, that is they lack good infrastructure and access to good water supply; also nearly one billion people are illiterate’. All these he said are the world’s population problems (Cohen, 2011). From a demographic point of view, it is an indisputable fact that Nigeria is one of the most populous nation-State in Africa, with a population figure of 140,431,790 in 2006 (National Population Commission 2006). Since this last demographic data collected, Nigeria’s population has never remain the same.
According to the CIA World fact book (2016), Nigeria’s population has increased up to 177,155,745 which comprises of 49% of youth (15-24 years). By implication, the Youth Bulge in Nigeria especially in Bayelsa State is one that must not be over-looked because of its tendencies of enhancing economic development. Globally, ‘Youth Bulge’ is often discussed in the light of either a blessing or a curse. However, our focus in this study is to analyze the phenomenon ‘Youth Bulge’ in the Nigerian context.
Economists, demographers, and other scholars had postulated that Nigeria is expected to experience a Youth Bulge– an increase in the population of the youths in relation to other age groups (Bloom and Humair, 2010; Reed and Mbezu, 2011). As expected, this rising ratio of youth population in comparison with other age groups would stimulate economic growth and development otherwise known as demographic dividend. On the other hand, if not properly utilized, it has the potential of stimulating a demographic bomb – a socially and economically threatening negative consequences, which could deter the country’s social order. According to the UN Associated Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), UN agencies define the ‘Youth Bulge’ as a large cohort (in excess of 20%) between the ages of 15-24 in relation to the total mature population.(Muhammad Idrees1, Muhammad S, Muhammad R, and Muhammad A, 2015)
Nigeria, with particular reference to Bayelsa State obviously has not yield a substantial dividend out of its Youth Bulge in the face of the dwindling economy. Consequently the economy is rampant with, high rate of unemployment, political violence, poverty, crime, and militancy. And as such, instead of reaping the demographic dividend out of the Youth Bulge, we are faced with the reality of reaping a demographic bomb. This is because the Nigerian youths are already vulnerable to drug abuse, militancy, insurgency and other form of conflict (Zainab, 2012).
Lin (2012), a former World Bank economist also warns that failure to nurture youthful population poses risks of insecurity and political instability; in a Statement Lin explained, “If a large cohort of young people cannot find employment and earn satisfactory income, the Youth Bulge will become a demographic bomb, because a large mass of frustrated youth is likely to become a potential source of social and political instability. In fact, Lin described Youth Bulge as a double edged sword with the potential of producing a demographic dividend or a demographic bomb.
Nigeria’s failure to capitalize on the Youth Bulge coupled with the economy recession has led to a more serious crisis across the country especially in Bayelsa State. Crime has become the order of the day as many youths who are unemployed, and have resorted to all manners of criminal act such as, oil bunkery, vandalization of oil pipelines, kidnapping, robbery etc. In an article published by vanguard news, Chioma (2013) reported that, teenagers and young adults aged between 15-29 years are the highest abuses of marijuana, codeine, alcohol and most commonly abused drugs and substances in Nigeria, Chioma further reported that the latest polls results released by NOI Polls Limited revealed an Overall 91 percent argued that there is a high level of drugs substance abuse in Nigeria. The finding supports (UW) data that Nigeria has the highest level of abuse of Cannabis (followed by alcohol (20%) than tobacco with 9%, proscription, drugs and hard drugs 6%.Reasons adduced for the trend as identified by respondents in the poll conducted between July 1st and 4th, 2013 included poverty, unemployment, peer pressure, societal influence and bad friends. So it is no gain saying to State that the common indicators of a demographic bomb ranges from unemployment, underemployment, poverty, militancy, robbery, high rate of school dropout, substance abuse, political violence, election violence (Urdal, 2006). Hence, this study examines these common indicators of demographic bomb in relation to the Youth Bulge in Bayelsa State.
1.2 Statement of Problem
A large cohort of youth places major strains on educational facilities, the labor market and social services which, if unmet, often lead to social instability and radicalism. It may at the same time reduce pressures in other areas such as health care because a younger population is generally healthier (Antonello, 2010). Therefore, the nature of the Youth Bulge in Nigeria, its implications for the economic, political and social future of the States within its six geo-political zones, and the impact these realities can have on citizens of our country have become a study in contrast and a cause for concern. In countries where young adults are actively sought by employers, a large proportion of young people are assets.
The beauty of any given population is to have the population majorly characterized by large cohort of young people. People who are vibrant, filled with potentials, talents etc. with the presence of such youths in any given population, posterity and the future of the population is secured. The demographic trend of increasingly large populations in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa has become a cause for concern among academicians, policy makers and government (Zogby, 2011). Such a growing population could engender either a positive or negative consequences. And as such it becomes imperative for researchers to carry out further studies in this regard to examine these consequences in order to keep peace with this demographic trend and. As Bricker and Foley (2013) rightly put it, ‘The youth now represent a disproportionately Large fractions of total populations in much developing world and will continue to do so as countries complete the demographic transition with fertility rates declining to match already low death rates’. The “Youth Bulge” in Bayelsa, Nigeria as it is in other developing countries, has potential of producing either a demographic dividend or demographic bomb. Putting it differently, it could either be a blessing or a curse if not properly stage-managed.
With Several studies that had been carried out by different scholars on Youth Bulge and it is known that the Youth Bulge of any country can either be a blessing or a course. In fact, in an international conference held at Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia on family planning on November 12-15, 2013, it was emphasized that, provision of good education, job creation and skill acquisition would enhance demographic dividend. (Population Reference Bureau, 2012)In contrast we shall State here that the absence of the above outline is what would lead to what we have conceptually referred to as ‘Demographic Bomb’.
With the high rate of unemployed youth roaming the street, and youths involvement in election violence, cybercrimes etc. It is evident that Bayelsa State is on the keg of a gun powder, a situation that is a strong indication of ‘Demographic Bomb’. It is indeed a huge problem to have such a dynamic population, human resources and not take advantage of it as is the case of Nigeria, Bayelsa State in particular. Today’s youth have become frustrated by the current economic crisis and this in turn has resulted in unemployment, political violence, terrorism, piracy and kidnapping, prostitution and other social vices among the young adult cohorts. Michael (2007) opined that he believed that the socio-economic hardship and not religious ideology is what is leading more Australian Youth to join extremist Islamist organization. For him, beyond religious ideology, socio-economic factors constitute the variables that cause terrorism and other form of violence. The same is true with Nigeria as the economic opportunities of a vast majority of the youths have been blocked by systemic and unfavorable administration.
In Nigeria, it is observed that youth’s participation in politics is more of a demographic bomb than a demographic dividend. Politicians takes advantage of the vulnerable youths and used them as pawns to induce electoral violence and other forms of political violence. In the just conclude gubernatorial election held on December 6, 2016 in Bayelsa State. Pockets of violence were recorded in some of its local government areas where elections were conducted. In fact the Nations Newspaper reported that 5 persons (all of which are youth) were killed as violence mars Bayelsa State.
Also a vast number of the youths in Bayelsa that ought to be in government organizations, factories and other reputable jobs and offices are found in various street corners, hotels and night clubs , prostituting they have become commercial sex workers. Prostitution in Nigeria has become widespread among different categories of people. For instance, in Nigeria the rate at which prostitution or commercial sex works spread and operate is alarming. It has reached the level that those who engage in it now demand respect from the society. (Abiodun, 2012).
Another over-emphasized but often neglected issue with the Youth Bulge in Bayelsa State is unemployment. The promise by Nigerian government to deal with the issue of unemployment has become an every-day song. A song that never make meaning to all who listen, as unemployment still remains at an alarming rate. The National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria has recorded that the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased to 9.90 percent in the third quarter of 2015 from 8.20% in the second quarter of 2015 unemployment rate in Nigeria 11.45% from 2006 until 2015 reaching an all-time high of 23.90% in the fourth quarter of 2006. (Trading economics 2015)
Peculiar to the Youth Bulge in Bayelsa State is the increase in crime rate. Crime such include: piracy, armed robbery, rape, cyber fraud, kidnapping and oil pipe line vandalization – a crime that has become a big business for the youths who engaged in the act. Apparently, piracy started in Nigeria in October 2012. And by early 2013 Nigeria became the 2nd most pirated nation in Africa next to Somalia. The movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta is thought to be behind most of the attacks. It was recorded that since 2012 MEND has hijacked 12 ships, kidnapped 33 sailors and killed 4 oil workers. (Wikipedia, 2012). Beyond this report, it is evident that those involved in this act are the youths, contributing more to the issues of demographic bomb. One question this study seeks to address is how can Bayelsa State Government take advantage of this bulging youth population, engage its youth in productive socio-economic activities, and reduce the rates of crime to enhance a demographic dividend instead of a demographic bomb?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of the study is to determine the relationship between Youth Bulge and demographic bomb. The specific objectives of the study include:
- To examine the correlation between Youth Bulge, Economic hardship and youth crime rate.
- To ascertain the relationship between Youth Bulge and unemployment
- To identify the relationship between Youth Bulge and the rates of the spread of STDs
- To determine the relationship between Youth Bulge, poverty and election violence
- To analyze the relationship between Youth Bulge and the rate of literacy/illiteracy
1.4 Research Question
This study tends to answer the following research questions to solve the research problem
- How has the economic hardship in Bayelsa State impacted on the youth population and crime rate?
- Is there a correlation between increase in youth population and high rate of unemployment?
- Does increase in youth population increase the rate of the spread of STDs among youths?
- Does increase in youth population and increase in youth poverty induce election violence?
- Is the Youth Bulge in Bayelsa State responsible for the increase in the rate of illiteracy?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The essence of having such a demographic study goes beyond analyzing the demographic problems but also to proffer solutions to dealing with the problem associated with it. The Youth Bulge in Nigeria is one that must not be neglected but should be given an ultimate attention by the government, policy makers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), researchers as well as the members of the society.
Practically, this study is significant to the government as it reveal the reality of an increased youth population and the problems associated with it and thereby helping the government to see the need to salvage the situation by creating more job opportunities, empowering the youths through skill acquisition programs and education. In addition, government should seize this opportunity to recruit this young adults in military (Army, Navy, Air-force) and other government corporations.
This study also draws the attention of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). One of the main goals of NGOs is to assist the government in dealing with societal problems through its programs and operations. And as such, the Youth Bulge and its corresponding problems fall within the purview of the NGOs.
Theoretically, this study is significant as findings from the study would add to existing knowledge and would serve as a point of reference for future researchers in the field of academics.
Lastly, the study presents a systematic view of the research problem. This is significant as it enable the members of society to assess the research problem so that they can have a better understanding of the phenomenon.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is limited to examining some specific consequences of the increased youth population in Bayelsa State. Although there are multiplicities of issues associated with Youth Bulge, we shall in this study focus our attention on a few variables. Some of these variables include: unemployment, poverty, illiteracy rate, election violence, economic hardship and the HIV/AIDS.
Although Bayelsa State is made up of 8 local government areas, in this study 4 randomly selected local government areas shall be covered, these local government areas include Nembe, Southern Ijaw, Sagbama and Yenagoa. This selected local government shall constitute the sample size distribution of the population of study.
1.7 Operational Definition of Concepts
- Youth- Youth has being defined as categories of persons between the age where he/she may have compulsory education and the age at which he/she finds his/her first employment. For the purpose of this study we shall define youth as all persons who fall within the age bracket of 15-45
- Youth Bulge-Gunna (1990) used the concept to describe the situation many developing countries are faced with; where there is increase in the proportion of the youth population when compared with the other age groups. For the purpose of this refers to a rise in the population of the youth in any given geographical location and at a given period of time.
- Demographic bomb– In the light of this study, we shall define demographic bomb as the negative consequences of having an increased population of a particular category of people due to a country’s inability to manage or fund for that category of people.
- Economic hardship– This is a difficult situation in which an average citizen finds it difficult to meet their basic need. A situation caused by having too little money or too few resources.
- Demographic Transition– This is the process by which society move from high birth rate to low birth rate. It implies the different stages of growth that advanced societies had gone through and other societies are still going through.
- Election violence- this include all forms of organized acts or threats physical, psychological, and structural, aimed at intimidating, harming, blackmailing a political stakeholder before, during and after an election.