Invest in Human Capital, DFID Urges FG

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The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has advised the Nigerian government to invest in its human capital if it must attain its greatness.

The Head of DFID Nigeria, Debbie Palmer, gave the advice in his remark at the opening ceremony of an induction of new and returning governors, organised by the NGF Secretariat on Monday in Abuja.

Palmer said that Nigeria’s population had always being a huge asset and path to its greatness.

“For Nigeria to attain its greatness, to take its place in the comity of nations in 2050, we will need to turn things around. We will need to invest in people who will drive the economy of the country in the future,” Palmer said.

She said that nourishing, educating and giving the young population jobs including the children that would be born in the next few days, weeks and months were what determine the future of the country.

“So there is a lot to do and it required urgent works,’’ she said.

Palmer said that Nigeria’s economic growth could be achieved by harnessing the potential or its population and that requires hard infrastructure like roads and power.

“It also requires a great deal of soft infrastructure, what we may call human capital,’’ she said.

Palmer recalled that in the current released human capital index, Nigeria was on number 152 out of 157 countries, as well as the highest number of children out of school in the world.

She said: “In order for the country to move to greatness, we need nourished, educated young people who can take up work to create jobs for themselves, the families, societies and the nation.

“Presently, Nigeria spends less on health proportionally than South Sudan, less than any country in the world.”

She said that the UK government was determined to work with the Nigerian government to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity.

According to her, “Nigeria is our second investment globally. We gave nearly half a billion pounds to this country last year. And we will continue to work with you in partnership.”

Palmer advised the governors-elect to deliver on their campaign promises now that elections were over.

The Director, Nigeria Country Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Paulin Basinga, said that one of the biggest achievement of NGF was the eradication of polio.

Basinga said that by December, Nigeria would have spent five years without any record of polio virus.

“If all goes well, early next year, Nigeria will be polio free and the world will be declared polio free and that will be another breakthrough in the eradication of small pox in 1970s,” Basinga said.

He charged the governors to ensure that all local governments chairmen were involved in the campaign against polio to get the job done.

He expressed the readiness of the foundation to work with the governors in moving Nigerian states forward.

The Senior Fellow, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Dr Mairo Mandara, said that the key to reduce malnutrition and taking off Nigeria from the number of children suffering from it was ensuring that both the treatment and prevention were included and funded in states’ primary healthcare system.

Mandara advised state governors to ensure that their states’ health plan addressed their health needs.

“As you move in the next four years improving the lives of your citizens, it is important to know that young people are about 65 per cent of Nigeria population.

“Your legacies and future of your state lie in the development of lives of young peoples through strategic and sustainable solutions including promoting girls education,” Mandara said.

She said that while the challenges were many, it was important for the governors to look at solutions that are cross cutting and addressing many challenges at the same time.

Mandara said that for over five years, the CIFF had been supporting the Nigerian government in addressing cases of severe acute malnutrition with over $50 million.

She said that the foundation was currently in the last six months supporting Nigeria with additional $3 million to buy ready to use syraphitic drugs to treat children with malnutrition. (NAN)