The UK Department for International Development (DFID), on Monday advised Nigeria government to invest in human capital, if it must attain greatness.
Mrs Debbie Palmer, Head of DFID Nigeria, said this at the induction ceremony for new and returning governors organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) 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 by 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.
“ We need to nourish, educate and give the young population jobs including the children that will be born in next few days, weeks and months.
“These are what determine the future of a 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 of her population and that required hard infrastructure like roads and power.
“It also requires a great deal of soft infrastructure, what we may call human capital,’’ she added.
Palmer recalled that in the current human capital index, Nigeria was on number 152 out of 157 countries, and also had the highest number of out of school children in the world.
“In order for the country to move to greatness, we need to nourish 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 noted.
Palmer said that the UK government was determined to work with Nigeria government to reduced poverty and promote prosperity.
“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,’’ she said.
Palmer advised the governors- elect to deliver on their campaign promises now that elections were over.
Dr Paulin Basinga, Director, Nigeria Country Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that one of the biggest achievement of the Nigerian Government is the progress toward Polio Eradication, and the NGF has played a critical role in this effort.
By September, 2019, Nigeria will have gone 3years without a case of wild polio virus.
“If the country keeps up this great effort, by this time next year (2020)- Nigeria and the rest of Africa – will be declared polio free.”
He charged the governors to ensure that all levels, including the Local Government, were involved in the campaign against polio to get the job done
He expressed readiness of the foundation to work with the governors in moving the Nigeria states forward.
Dr Mairo Mandara, Senior Fellow, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, said that the key to reduce malnutrition was funding.
She said reducing the number of Nigerian children suffering from malnutrition was also dependant on adequate funding for treatment and prevention in states’ primary healthcare system.
Mandara advised state governors to ensure that their states health plan addressed their health needs.
“As you move 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 lies in the development of lives of young people through strategic and sustainable solutions including promoting girl’s education,’’ she 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 times.
Mandara said that for over five years the CIFF had been supporting Nigeria government in addressing cases of severe acute malnutrition with over $50 million.
She said that the foundation was currently supporting with additional three million dollar to buy ready to use syraphitic drug for the treatment of children with malnutrition.