For two weeks, in at least 12 major cities, the long-held silence of Nigeria’s largest demographic was heard loud and clear.
Some of these young women and men aged between 15 and 44 years took to the streets to demand for an end to police brutality and better governance. The peaceful protests turned ugly when other youth resorted to violence and vandalization.
Both reactions are a symptom of many problems, but unemployment is their topmost concern.
This age group forms the bulk of the working population as well as the unemployed. Over half of the labour force in Nigeria consists of youth who have either never attended primary school or have only been to secondary school (see infographics below).
In a slowly growing economy but rapidly urbanising country, this age group are among those who head to the cities in search of jobs and a better standard of living. But a job is hard to find in most Nigerian cities (between 2010 and 2030, the World Bank estimates that Nigeria must create 30 to 40 million jobs).
Cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, some of the hotspots of the #EndSARS protests, are where the productive jobs Nigeria urgently needs must come from.