World’s foremost philanthropist and co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates, today advised the Nigerian government to prioritise human capital development as a strategic option of fast-tracking the nation’s development on a sustainable basis.
Gates, who gave the advice at the Expanded National Economic Council presided over by Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, noted that the current reforms being implemented by the government did not place much emphasis on human capital quality.
He said: “Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.
“The Nigerian government’s economic recovery and growth plan identify investing in our people as one of three strategic objectives. But the execution priorities don’t fully reflect people’s needs, prioritizing physical capital over human capital.
“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, ports, and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy”, Gates stressed.
According to him, the most important choice the government could make is to maximize its greatest resource – the Nigerian people, pointing out Nigeria will develop when every is as able to thrive.
Specifically, the IT expert identified investments in their health, education and opportunities as crucial to improving the quality of the human capital and laying the foundation for sustained prosperity.
Gates promised to partner with the federal government on taxes in order to bring in more money for health and education, warning however that government failed to invest more in human capital “then it is very important to recognise that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.”