Young adults in Africa’s biggest economy believe that with a strong connection, they have a high likelihood of flourishing in life, a BusinessDay survey revealed.
Findings have shown that the country’s older population, while they were young, needed only education to succeed in life. But the current economic realities in Nigeria have changed the narrative and made connections as part of the requirements for the success of young people today.
BusinessDay surveyed over two dozen young adults, 90 percent of the youths surveyed believed they cannot succeed without connections.
“I don’t think anyone can succeed without connections because the situation in this country is hard and there are fewer opportunities,” said Jolaolwa Isaac, a 19-year-old product designer.
“But through the grace of God it is feasible nevertheless,” he said.
Nigerian youth makes up 70 percent of the country’s total population and 53 percent of 151 million of the youth population (80 million) are unemployed, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The country is churning millions of graduates yearly with the economy creating very little or no jobs to accommodate them. This is fueling the ‘japa wave’ (a Yoruba word for “run quickly”) as young adults seek a better life aboard.
Funsho Ade, a 28-year-old gateman of an estate, also believes that connection is very important to succeed in Nigeria.
“Sometimes in fact very rarely do people succeed without connections, the importance of connection cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
Ade said having connections has benefited him “I recently got a better job because someone I know connected me with someone in the US in need of someone to take care of his facility.”
Also, Eniola Victor, an artiste, popularly known as Ne8ure, said hard work, education, and skill are very important to succeed because they determine how successful you become in whatever field you have chosen.
He said, “I see a connection as a catalyst that can speed up the journey of success because, with connections, it becomes easier to get access to people, places, and projects.”
‘But connections without sound education, skill, or hard work, your chance of success is slim. One can say they work hand in hand. What has helped me so far is God, education, skill, connection, proper positioning,” he added.
Olamide Favor, a 24-year-old Lagos-based investment banker said connections make business thrive.
“You need a connection. It puts you to meet the right people, in business, you make good money as a result of the relationship that you have made. But sometimes sheer luck helps one succeed like having a viral post on social media when you least expect,” she said.
Jobberman in a 2022 report said that the country’s youth unemployment rate is alarmingly high and has been increasing on a yearly average of six percent over the past five years.
“Sadly, more scary unemployment realities await Nigerian youth as the Nation’s population is expected to double by 2050.
“Despite gradual economic expansion in terms of GDP and policies geared toward creating more job opportunities, the number of job seekers will keep increasing as population growth outpaces job creation potential, ” the report mentioned.
The report also stated that the nation’s socio-political landscape is triggering an antagonistic effect of some of these well-intentioned economic policies, sparking an increasing exodus of local and international companies and leaving additional hundreds of thousands of youth unemployed.
Atedo Peterside, founder of Stanbic IBTC, in a recent interview, spoke about how society is currently rigged against young people.
He stated that the economy provided the needed opportunity for youths to succeed when he was younger, noting that now the rules have been rigged against young people in the country.
“Some Nigerians as they got older kept on pulling the rug along with themselves and the environment that enabled them to come in and succeed they withdrew it.
“I’m sad that no young Nigerian at 33 will be able to begin a bank the way I did. If you have 10 years of experience and you go to get a license they will throw you out,” he said.
He pointed out that it’s the reason why loads of young people are moving to the creative industry where they are allowed to flourish without being rigged against.
“That’s why you find that young people today are concentrated in the creative arts, music, and Nollywood areas where the rules have not been rigged against them.
“If they want to get land to set up a manufacturing factory, they’ll be rigged out of it in their state or by some old man,” Peterside said.
Toyib Adelodun, civil engineer and life coach while reacting to Peterside’s interview, agreed that it is hard for youths to succeed in the country without connection, adding that tech, media, and sales have low barriers to entry.
The National Bureau of Statistics is expected to release the country’s Labour Force Survey on Thursday.