Nigeria is famous for her huge population of about 150,539,700 estimated as at August 2003 – the largest national population on the African continent. This population is made up of about 374 pure ethnic stocks. Three of them, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba are the major groups and constitute over 40 per cent of the population. In fact, about 10 ethnic linguistic groups constitute more than 80% of the population: the other large groups are Tiv, Ibibio, Kanuri, Nupe, Gwari, Igala, Jukun, Idoma, Fulani, Edo, Urhobo and Ijaw. The gender divide of Nigeria’s population, as indicated by the last census in 1991, reflects an unusual imbalance in favor of male dominance; 51% male: 49% female.
However, the more critical population indices concern:
- High growth rate – 3.2%; this is affected by decreased infant mortality and high fertility.
- High school age population – over 47% are 15 years old and below.
- High child dependency ratio – one dependant to one worker for the working age group 25-65.
- Large work force – working age group 15-59 is over 40 per cent of the population.
Due to a massive expansion in the education sector in the last two decades, the coloration and quality of the Nigerian work force has changed to include a large corps of highly trained personnel in mechanical, civil, electrical, electronics, chemical and petroleum engineering and biotechnics. There are at present over 30 Federal and State Universities, some of them specialist -Technology and Agriculture. In addition there are at least 20 Federal and State Polytechnics. Over 70,000 graduates in various disciplines from these institutions every year. Disciplines, apart from pure sciences, engineering and technologies, include social sciences, business studies (management, banking and finance), architecture, environment and urban management studies. Also, a sizeable Nigerian population has been and is being trained outside the country, in some of the best colleges in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, Japan and China.
Every year, about 2,000 of these Nigerians return home to seek employment or accommodation within the economy.
For the less skilled and unskilled labour, the country depends on the primary and secondary school systems whose annual enrolments are over 3.5 million and 1.5 million, respectively.