World’s second richest man, Mr. Bill Gates, who is on a visit to Nigeria, on Thursday disclosed that the economic templates currently being used by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration do not have the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians at the moment.
This was as he pointed that Nigeria has the ability to approach ‘upper middle-income status’ like Brazil, China and Mexico, but was quick to add that achieving this status is dependent on “the choice Nigerian leaders make”.
Speaking at the special and expanded National Economic Council meeting held in Abuja tagged: ‘the Role of human capital investment in supporting pro-poor and economic growth agenda’, the founder of Microsoft Corporation tasked Nigerian leaders to sincerely invest in not just infrastructural development but also human investment.
He stressed that although Nigeria is rapidly approaching upper- middle income status, the country has “unmatched economic potential and what becomes of that potential depends on the choice Nigerian leaders makes”.
Newsworth recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari upon assumption of office had unveiled a four-year ERGP (2017-2020) to help propel the country towards the path of development and growth. ERGP seeks to build on the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan, SIP, by restoring growth, investing in people and build a global competitive economy.
While observing the Nigerian government’s ERGP identifies “investing in our people” as one of three “strategic objectives”, Gates said the “execution priorities” do not fully reflect people’s needs, “prioritising physical capital over human capital”.
“To anchor the economy over the long term, investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investment 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,” he said.
The wealthy American maintained that the most important choice Nigerian leaders can make is “to maximise the country’s greatest resource, which is the people”. He said Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive.
“If you invest in their health, education, and opportunities- the human capital we are talking about today, then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognise that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow,” he said.
The philanthropist went on to state that Nigeria’s government revenue as a percentage of its GDP is by far the lowest in the world, at 6 per cent and this makes the government investment in Nigerians difficult.
“The next lowest country, Bangladesh collects 10 per cent of its GDP. If you got yourself up to second to the last in the world, you would have an extra $18 billion to budget. Obviously, you are aiming higher, but it gives you some idea about the scale we are talking about.
“We want to support you in your work to mobilise resources to invest in your country and I urge you to rethink your investment on Nigerian people,” the author said.