Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policy, saying it does not address the unique needs of Nigerians at present.
Mr Buhari had unveiled a four-year Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERPG, to help propel the country towards the path of development and growth.
ERGP is an economic plan that builds on the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan, SIP, a short term plan aimed at tackling corruption, improving security and rebuilding the nation’s economy.
But Mr Gates said Nigeria has the ability to approach ‘upper middle-income status’ like Brazil, China and Mexico, but said attaining such status depends on ”the choice Nigerian leaders make”.
Speaking at the special and expanded National Economic Council held in Abuja on Thursday, Mr Gates tasked Nigerian leaders to sincerely invest in not just infrastructural development but also human investment.
The theme of the meeting was “Role of human capital investment in supporting pro-poor and economic growth agenda”.
“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.
“The most important choice you can make is to maximize your greatest resource, the Nigerian people. 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; that 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.”