looking for work keeps increasing. Needless to say, the size of Nigeria’s labor pool is directly linked to the rate at which its population continues to grow. And over the past 25 years, Nigeria’s population has grown exponentially. Indeed in 1975, it stood at 61.2 million people. By 2005 though, it had more than doubled to 141.4 million people, and it is projected to rise to 175.7 million people by 2015. This means that between 1975 and 2005, the country’s population grew at a stagger- ing 2.8 percent a year. And between 2005 and 2015, it is set to grow by a similarly remarkable 2.2 percent an- nually.55
Each and every year, then, hundreds of thousands of young people join the labor market for the first time. So many, in fact, that even a dynamic expanding econ- omy would struggle to find gainful employment for them all, and Nigeria’s economy is anything but dy- namic. There are, in short, far too many people chas- ing far too few jobs, and there is little prospect of this high demographic growth rate slowing significantly anytime soon. Indeed, for cultural and domestic and international political reasons, Nigeria’s politicians are ill inclined to even try to limit it.
The hardships imposed on the mass of ordinary people by Nigeria’s poor economic performance con- tinue to be compounded by rampant corruption. Sadly, Nigeria’s reputation as a den of iniquity is thorough- ly deserved. In its 2007 Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International placed Nigeria in the top quintile of countries most affected by bribery.56 And in its 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, it ranked Nigeria 121st out of 180 countries (with the first placed coun- try being the least corrupt and the last the most).57 One of the most devastating consequences of corruption is the damage it inflicts on public services. To begin with,