Crossroads: Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nigeria

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nigeria
In many ways, the situation of the Niger River can be taken to characterize the country that bears its name, Nigeria. In the Igbo language — a large ethnic group in Nigeria — the river’s name means “great water,” and this name is substantially representative of Nigeria. Not only does Nigeria contain a large portion of the river, but it boasts the largest economy in Africa; thus, the nation could be said to be a “great water” in the large economic sea of the African continent.

But in Africa, an expansive and diverse continent with a wide variety of living conditions, how does Nigeria rank in its citizens’ quality of life? Is Nigeria’s economic progress translating into better living conditions for its people? Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Nigeria which aim to shed some light on these questions.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nigeria

  1. In Nigeria, the average life expectancy is 53 years. While low compared to western standards, this figure is dramatically higher than the 37 expected years in 1960. What’s more, in just the last two decades this figure has increased seven years from the 46-year expectancy in 2000.
  2. Poor living conditions are more common in urban environments. In an article written for the Journal of the Arts and Humanities, authors Babatunde Femi Akinyode, Emilia Oluwafolakemi Martins conclude that deteriorated houses are centered on urban areas — particularly in the western city of Ogbomosho.
  3. Fighting in the Borno state has decreased the quality of life for its residents. In a 2016 article done by Doctors Without Borders, many in the area were said to have been cut off from all humanitarian aid due to fighting between the Nigerian military and the militant group Boko Haram. Fighting still continues as of last month.
  4. Nigeria leads Africa in total people without internet access. Despite having the most people online, 53 percent of Nigerians lack internet access. Furthermore, the country lags behind wealthier countries like Egypt which have a smaller portion without internet access.
  5. Nigeria has an unemployment rate of 18.8 percent. Yet this rate has been climbing steadily for over 2 years, and one article written by Yomi Kazeem states that this trend has no sign of slowing. Nigeria’s job scarcity is exemplified by the fact that nearly one million people applied for 10,000 positions in the Nigerian police force in May 2016.
  6. Access to clean water is a persistent problem for Nigerians. USAID reports that many Nigerians struggle with access to clean water, and this struggle remains a particularly dire situation in the northern part of the country in which only 30 percent of the population have access to safe drinking water.
  7. Nigeria has a problem with air pollution. According to the Little Green Data Book published by the World Bank in 2017, 100 percent of the population is exposed to higher pm2.5 (particulate matter) pollution than is advised in the World Health Organization guidelines. WHO recommends that levels of PM 2.5 be kept under 10 micrograms per cubic meter; however, the mean level in Nigeria is 26 micrograms per cubic meter. By contrast, the United States’ value is 8.
  8. Nigeria has the second largest HIV/AIDS positive population in the World. Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS accounts for nine percent of the world’s HIV burden, and the largest global burden of malaria. Combined, these two facts indicate Nigeria’s struggle with maintaining the health of its citizens’ lives.
  9. Nigeria is in the bottom half of countries in terms of happiness. This study ranks happiness by combining statistics on per capita GDP, freedom to make life decisions, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, generosity and perceptions of corruption. Nigeria, although in the bottom half of the study, does indeed rank ahead of many of its sub-Saharan counterparts.
  10. Nigeria’s Human Development Index has increased by over 18 percent from 2003 to 2015. Despite many setbacks, it is clear that the people in Nigeria have made improvements in their quality of life. An increasing number of people are free to live lives unburdened with extreme material deprivation.


These top 10 facts about living conditions in Nigeria indicate that like many developing economies, Nigeria is a country at a crossroad. In Nigeria there is palpable wealth, modern cities, and at the same time, distressed rural areas complete with violence. Yet, after weathering a recent a recent economic downturn, Nigeria may very well push forward towards a brighter future for all its citizens.

– William Menchaca

Photo: Flickr