Calls for tougher policies to sustain gains in human development index
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The United Nations has commended the recent launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) by the Federal Government of Nigeria, noting that the plan with its several medium-term policies and programmes is capable of keeping Nigeria on a positive development trajectory since it focuses on restoring growth, investing in people and building a globally competitive economy.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Kallon, who stated this on tuesday , in Abuja, at the launch of UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) 2016 also expressed optimism that Nigeria has what it takes to surmount her challenges and pledged support of the world body in this regard.
“As the 2014 HDR aptly noted success is not automatic and gains are not necessarily permanent.
“In this regard, I am glad to note that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with focus on restoring growth, investing in people and building a competitive economy recently launched by the federal government outlines several medium-term policies and programmes that can keep Nigeria on a positive development trajectory.”
Kallon, who commended the significant increase in Human Development Index in Africa noted that Nigeria recorded 13.1 per cent increase between 2005 and 2015.
He, however, lamented that issues such as insecurity and the drop in prices of export commodities which are major earners in sub-Saharan Africa are fast eroding on this gains.
He called on Nigeria to as a matter of urgency find lasting solution to these challenges in order to bring about enduring development in the country.
“The report shows that between 2005 and 2015, Nigeria’s HDI increased from 0.466 to 0.527 – a 13.1 per cent increase.
“This is encouraging, but given the humanitarian challenges already alluded to, and the economic recession witnessed in 2016, there is an urgent need to design policies and programmes to ensure that the upward trend in human development is not reversed.
To address the twin problems of economic recession and humanitarian crisis facing the country, Kallon advised that the nation utilises the opportunity provided by the national launch of this report to promote policy dialogue, at both national and sub-national levels.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in her remarks, said the launch of the report was timely.
Ahmed said the report provided an independent and data-based analysis of why certain groups tend to be more disadvantaged and highlights the persistent barriers to achieving sustainable human development for all.
She said it also came on the heels of the recently launched NERGP which she said would define the country’s economic trajectory for the next four years, by ensuring sustained, inclusive and diversified growth.
“The report comes as Nigeria works to actively implement programs aimed at meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both at the federal and state levels,” she said.
The minister said government was working proactively to address the current economic challenges facing the Nation, and to implement policies and programmes that promote human development.
According to her the programmes would ensure that `no one is left behind’.
“We will also strive to ensure that the disadvantaged communities receive the extra support they need. This includes those living in conflict affected areas, women and girls, and rural communities.
“Government is striving to ensure that human development progress is more resilient to shocks, such as epidemics, economic challenges, conflicts. “This is being done through the development and implementation of sound policies and through social investment programmes,” she said.