Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says the execution process of the economic and recovery growth plan (ERGP) does not reflect the needs of Nigerians.
The ERGP is 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.
Gates, who is now the second richest man in the world, made this statement while speaking at the expanded national economic council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.
“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.”
But the remarks did not go well with Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, says it is incorrect to say the execution process of the economic and recovery growth plan (ERGP) does not truly reflect the needs of Nigerians.
He said this in response to a statement made by Bill Gates at the expanded national economic council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
“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, prioritising physical capital over human capital,” Gates had said.
He said this priority would lead to a “sharp limit on how much the country can grow”.
Reacting to Gates’ comment, el-Rufai, who was among the governors at the meeting where Gates spoke, said the ERGP has enough provision for human capital.
He said 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 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.