The United States Consulate General, John Bray, has described Nigeria’s present economic challenges and future outlook as daunting in view of its explosive population projected to be 450 million by 2050.
The US envoy linked Nigeria’s security status and overall stability to its economic challenges, while delivering a keynote speech at the Securex West Africa conference in Lagos.
Addressing the theme: ‘A multi-stakeholder approach to addressing Nigeria’s security challenges,’ he highlighted some of the factors contributing to economic and political instability as health crises, illegal trade in toxic chemicals, dumping of hazardous wastes and corruption among others.
Citing the National Bureau of Statistics, Bray said the number of unemployed youths in the country put at 13.2 million as of 2018 was alarming, adding that the rise of militancy in the North East, South East, and South South correlated directly to the number of idle youths in the country.
“The challenges it will face in the future brought on by dramatic population increase could be even direr. Nigeria is on track to reach nearly 450 million by 2050, a number that would make it the third most populous nation in the world. The convergence of these factors and a poor economic outlook will have a significant impact on security and stability in Nigeria,” the envoy said.
He noted that the country was in urgent need of economic diversification which could be achieved through investment in agriculture and the entertainment industry.
However, he said, the heightened farmer-herdsman conflicts had taken their toll on agricultural growth, stressing that the diminishing food security only increased instability in the Middle Belt.
According to Bray, the US is seeking to do its part to help support the development of human capital in Nigeria, saying that the Nigerian government should to do its part by addressing corruption and striking trade deals that would benefit its citizens.
He said, “Nigeria must address its endemic corruption. The ability to “sign deals” that only benefit political leaders impacts Nigeria’s ability to develop its economy and encourage investment. The United States does its best to limit corruption continent-wide. We do so through visa regulations, business sanctions, and through training and advocacy work.”