John Shiklam in Kaduna
Against the recent reports that he attacked the founder of Microsoft, Mr. Bill Gates, for his comments on Nigeriaâ€™s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has explained that he never attacked United States billionaire.
Gates had at an expanded National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on March 22, said President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s ERGP does not truly reflect the needs of Nigerians.
The governor was said to have faulted the philanthropist, saying that his comments were not correct.
However, speaking at the end of the state investment summit thuirsday, El-Rufai said he never attacked Gates but merely put things in context.
â€œA few weeks ago, when Gates came to Nigeria and appealed to Nigerian government to invest more in education, I made a comment that was reported widely as attacking him. It was not an attack on Gates, it was merely putting things in context,â€ the governor said.
He recalled that â€œGates observed that in the ERGP, there was no enough money for human capital development, for health and education and I did not disagree.
â€œWhat I merely pointed out is that the ERGP plan has numbers that reflected federal governmentâ€™s investment in health and education,â€ he said.
El-Rufai explained: â€œThe bulk of education and healthcare investments are subnational because primary education, junior secondary education and primary healthcare where most of the problems are, are all within the purview of state government, just like secondary healthcare are all under the state government.
â€œWhat I told Gates is that you have identified the problem correctly, but you are looking at the wrong tier of government to handle it.
â€œThe state and local governments have the responsibilities to invest in education and healthcare.
â€œSo, it is up to state governments to invest more in education and healthcare and I gave example of what we are doing in Kaduna and also urged my colleagues, the governors to do same. Because unless the state governments do so, the country will be clapping with one hand.
â€œThat is what I said, but it was misrepresented to mean that, I was attacking Gates. There is nothing wrong with attacking Gates, we can differ, but that is not what happened, I merely explained the context, where the investment should beâ€.
According to him, â€œGates is a big partner, he has invested $1.6billion in Nigeria and a large percentage of that money was invested in Kaduna state.
â€œI will not disclose how much, because other states will be envious.â€