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Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate is 34.9% – not 65%

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“Most Nigerian youth are high on drugs,” Reno Omokri, a well-known critic of the Nigerian government and one-time former special adviser to former president Goodluck Jonathan, tweeted on 29 October 2020.

“They go to social media to do all sorts. I saw young unemployed in UK, they didn’t become hoodlums.”

He was quoting a speech politician Mojisola Alli-Macaulay recently gave in the Lagos state house of assembly. A video of the speech has since gone viral.

Omokri added: “UK has 5% youth unemployment. Nigeria has 65%.” He repeated the claim on Facebook.

The tweet has been retweeted more than 1,700 times, and the Facebook post shared over 720 times. But is Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate really as high as 65%?

UK youth unemployment close to 5%

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK has reached its highest level of unemployment in three years and the highest level of redundancies since 2009. This is according to data from the country’s Office for National Statistics.

The agency puts the most recent UK unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over, for July to September 2020, at 4.8%, or close to Omokri’s figure. 

But this covered all ages up to 64. When young people aged 16 to 24 are considered, the rate rose to 13.4%. 

Youth unemployment in Nigeria at 34.9%

In Nigeria, the unemployed population is defined as all people aged from 15 to 64 years who are willing and able to work but are without work during the reference period captured in the data.

On 31 August 2020, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics released its unemployment report for the second quarter – April to June – of 2020. It gives the total unemployment rate as 27.1%.

The unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 34 is 34.9%. This is the highest rate for all age groups.

Omokri’s claim is incorrect. The UK defines young people as those aged 16 to 24, and their unemployment rate was given as 13.4%, not 5%.

According to official statistics, Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate is 34.9%, not 65%. The country defines the youth as those aged 15 to 35. Experts say care should be taken when comparing unemployment across countries, because of such differences.

In February 2020 Africa Check looked into a similar claim, that Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate was close to 70%. It was also rated as incorrect. 

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