Billionaire Founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, who was in the Presidential villa on Thursday, said the execution process of the economic and recovery growth plan (ERGP) does not reflect the needs of Nigerians.
Speaking at the expanded national economic council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday, Bill Gates who faulted the ERGP, a medium-term document launched by President Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2017 to restore the nation’s economic status after it was hit by its worst recession in 29 years, said;
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He said the biggest African office of his foundation is in Nigeria, adding that the organisation has committed over $1.6 billion with intentions of increasing the commitment. Gates said addressing the issue of stunted growth, will add $30 billion to the GDP annually.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
Reacting to the report,Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, said the ERGP has enough provision for human capital. According to him, what is needed is not an adjustment of the ERGP but for state governments to adopt similar plans.
“On the review of ERGP as suggested by Bill Gates, it is not correct to say that the economic recovery and growth plan does not give primacy to human capital, it is not correct,” el-Rufai said.
“The economic recovery and growth plan has enough provision for human capital, it is a federal government plan, what is needed is for states to have similar plans as well as adequate provisions for healthcare and education.
“Because the bulk of the burden for healthcare and education really rests on states governments. The disease burden of the country is largely at the primary healthcare level and this primary healthcare system is broken completely, we need to rebuild it.
“It is the responsibility of the states rather than the federal government. The federal government incentifies with funding, grants and aids. But essentially, routine immunization, primary healthcare, is the responsibility of the states.
“So it is not gaps in the ERGP that we are looking at, it is appealing to states governments to provide more money in basic education, primary healthcare. It is not the ERGP that needs adjustments, it is the budgeting that needs to be ramped up in these two key areas because these are where the problems are.
“If a child losses equality education, he is done for life. If a child doesn’t get quality healthcare in the first two years, he is destroyed for life. This is the message that we invest more at the lower level, so that we prevent this disaster from happening.”
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode who also reacted to the report tweeted;
‘You invited Bill Gates to your Economic Council meeting and he told you the bitter truth and that things are not working the way they should.
When your guest tells you the bitter truth you better sit up and listen. Gates needs nothing from you and he has no reason to lie. You are a disaster.”
‘Bill Gates visited the Presidency today and said: 1. “The present economic templates being used by the Buhari govt do not have the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians”. 2. “Nigeria is the most dangerous place to give birth in the world”. LISTEN TO UR GUEST!
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce who took to Twitter to react to the report, tweeted;
Truth to power! More grease Mr.
@BillGates, more grease!
The shots fired by
@BillGates at @AsoRock today were timely and well said. This government has spent three years blaming the previous administration and not enough time preparing its own economic plans and implementing them. It took a foreigner to say this truth to power. Kudos!
We have been saying these same things for years. When we say them, we are called wailers. But
@BillGates is not a politician. He is not a wailer. He is a friend of Nigeria who has spent $1.6 billion of his own money trying to help poor people in Africa and particularly in Nigeria