Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, says the execution priorities of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, do not reflect Nigerians’ needs.
Gates gave the submission at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja Thursday during the special National Economic Council on Investment in Human Capital, with the theme, “Human Capital Investment in Supporting Pro-poor and Economic Growth Agenda”.
The billionaire said though the ERGP identifies investing in people as one of its three strategic objectives, its “execution priorities don’t fully reflect people’s needs, prioritizing physical capital over human capital”.
Like Aliko Dangote who spoke before him, Gates espoused on the importance of investments in people in driving the country’ economy.
“To anchor the economy over the long term, Investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people. People without roads, poets and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy,” he said.
Gates said though Nigeria has unmatched economic potential, what becomes of such potential depends on the choices made by Nigerian leaders.
“The most important choice you can make is to maximize your greatest resource, the Nigerian people. Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive.”
On health, he said Nigeria, “is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth, with the fourth worst maternal rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.
“I believe the Nigerian primary health care system is not adequately funded. But it also doesn’t get the most out of its current funding…More transparency would lead to more accountability which would strengthen governance, leadership and management which would improve quality across the board.
The American philanthropist said his foundation had committed over $1.6 billion in Nigeria so far and planned to increase its commitment as it believed the country would thrive better with strong investment in health and education.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who presided over the session, said Nigeria had strong economic growth and development ambitions as encapsulated in the ERGP.
He however said all the lofty ambitions in the plan could only be achieved through the determined application of human skill and effort.