Nigeria Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

Oil resources have made a small number of Nigerians stormy, while half the population is expected to live below the poverty level. In terms of human development, the country lies behind many other countries in Africa. This is partly due to the fact that healthcare is unusually poorly developed.

The World Health Organization WHO has judged the healthcare system in Nigeria as one of the world’s worst. Health care has deteriorated following the large investments made by oil revenues in the 1970s. In an attempt to improve the situation, a compulsory social security system for public employees was introduced in 2003. A 5 percent fee earned entitlement to health care for the employee, spouse and up to four children. Exceptions were made for certain diseases such as cancer and HIV / AIDS. Other employees would have the right to join if they wanted to.

Child mortality is very high, every year around 800,000 Nigerians die before the age of five. The cause is generally diseases that are both preventable and treatable. This is particularly bad in the northern parts of the country. Yet mortality has decreased: just before the turn of the millennium, every fifth child died before his fifth birthday; the figure is now approaching half that.

Just over one child in three is suffering from inhibited growth due to nutritional deficiencies. However, malnutrition among the general population is not as common in Nigeria as in other, equally poor countries. The proportion of malnourished people in the population has decreased from almost 40 percent in the early 1980s to between 5 and 10 percent today. A lot has happened thanks to the fact that new, more high-yielding cassava varieties have begun to be grown.

nigeria population

Maternal mortality is also high. Many pregnancies at a young age are one reason. Another is inadequate medical care; there is a doctor of 4,000 residents. Nevertheless, healthcare resources have been focused on staff rather than buildings and equipment.

A third reason for the high maternal mortality rate is that abortions are only allowed if the woman’s life is in danger. Desperate women turn to illegal abortionists, who often lack medical education. Every year, thousands of women in Nigeria die as a result of abortions. Attempts to change abortion legislation have so far been halted by conservative forces.

Every third inhabitant lacks access to clean water.

Genital mutilation is prohibited

The woman’s position is difficult. It is common for underage girls to get married, and in some people groups, the woman lacks inheritance rights. Polygamy occurs, among both Christians and Muslims. The same goes for genital mutilation; At least one in four women is estimated to have been subjected to some form of female circumcision. The custom became illegal at national level only in 2015 (there were bans in some states before that).

In southern Nigeria, twin births in ancient times were considered unnatural and unfortunate, and it appeared that both mother and child were killed, but that custom is now banned everywhere. It still happens that widows have to submit to difficult rites, that childless women are subjected to severe discrimination and that people are persecuted because they are believed to be engaged in witchcraft. Since the 1990s, the state of Akwa Ibom in the south-east has been haunted by conceptions of child witches, which has led to the abandonment, abuse or even killing of children. Pseudo-Christian “pastors” earn big money in expelling evil spirits from the designated children.

Homosexuality is forbidden. Following a stricter law in 2014, it is punishable by up to 14 years in prison to openly show homosexual orientation or act for the rights of gays. The law drew harsh criticism from, among others, the UN, the US and the EU.

In some places, slave settlements are counted as special castes that are discriminated against (for historical background, see Older History). In November 2009, the human rights organization Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria called on the traditional rulers (kings, emirs, rulers, etc.) to recognize the role some of their ancestors played in the slave trade of the last century as they captured and sold their countrymen.

Crime is a major problem, especially in the cities. Nigeria is, among other things, a transit country for drug smuggling from South America and Asia to the US and Europe.

In 2019, a Abuja court ruled that prostitution is not a crime in Nigeria, as there is no law prohibiting it. It was the first time a court in Nigeria has ruled on whether or not sex work is legal. The verdict was expected to be a preliminary ruling. It is common for prostitutes to be arrested by security agents, and there are many testimonies of harassment and abuse by the arrested women.


HIV is not as widespread as in southern Africa. The number of HIV-infected Nigerians is still estimated to be around 3 million, as the total population is so large. More than 1.5 million children are orphans due to AIDS. The authorities, in collaboration with the UN, among others, have sought to increase access to brake medicines with the aim that everyone should have access to treatment.

A rumor campaign against polio vaccination in Kano in northern Nigeria in 2003 led to a global effort to eradicate polio. Nigeria was then one of only six countries in the world where polio viruses still existed. The rumors claimed that the vaccine contained both HIV viruses and substances that made the recipients fearless. Religious Muslim leaders fueled the rumors and a Sharia court ruled that the United States produced the vaccine to reduce the number of Muslims in the world.

Vaccinations in Northern Nigeria had to be interrupted quickly and could only be resumed almost a year later. Meanwhile, polio spread from Nigeria to at least 20 countries where the virus had been considered extinct. In 2008, Nigeria was the center of a new outbreak of polio in West Africa, but soon the number of new cases was reduced by several vaccination rounds. In 2015, WHO was able to remove Nigeria from the list of countries where polio is spread, as it had been a year since the last disease was found. But a year later, new cases were discovered and a new vaccination campaign had to be planned quickly (see Calendar).

The epidemic of hemorrhagic ebola that affected other countries in West Africa in 2014 never took root in Nigeria. Only a few cases occurred and the WHO praised the country for an exemplary effort to stop the spread of infection.

A comprehensive vaccination campaign against measles was carried out in 2017, as the number of outbreaks of the deadly viral disease increased. Nearly 30 million children were vaccinated, which was seen as a great success. Yet there are more non-vaccinated children in Nigeria than in any other country.


Infant Mortality: 76 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 1.5 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

0.8 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.5 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 67.3 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 39.2 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 3.6 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: $ 79 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 6 percent (2018)