By Emmanuel Elebeke
The federal government has dismissed the media reports which stated that the philanthropist, Gates faulted Nigeria’s economic plans during his visit to PresidentMohammadu Buhari on Thursday.
A statement issued on Friday by the minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma and signed by his special Adviser on media claimed that the media misunderstood the context in which Mr. Gates made his remarks and could not have faulted the Federal Government’s ERGP.
“Several of today’s newspapers carried a story in which the philanthropist, Mr. Bill Gates is said to have taken issue with the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).the
“It seems the context in which Mr. Gates made his remarks was not well understood.
“A close reading of his statement shows that the point Mr. Gates was making was that the human capital development should have been explicitly indicated as part of the execution priorities of the ERGP.
“This is not the same as saying that the ERGP does not address human capital development or that Mr. Gates faulted Nigeria’s economic plans as some newspapers put it.”
It further explained that the ERGP priorities human capital development, insisting that the priority areas of the ERGP have cross-cutting potentials which are all focused towards empowering the people and improving their general conditions.
“The ERGP rests on the three pillars of restoring growth, investing in the Nigerian people and building a competitive economy. The pillar of ‘investing in the Nigerian people’ is nothing other than human capital development consisting as it does of education, health and social investments, and a whole chapter of the ERGP is devoted to this important pillar. Therefore the ERGP indeed priorities human capital development.
“The ERGP sets out 60 strategies cutting across all sectors of the economy. Indeed, over one quarter of them (strategies 31 to 47) fall into the category of
Investing in the Nigerian people.
“The execution priorities of the ERGP are restoring macroeconomic balance, achieving agriculture and food security, ensuring energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, improving transportation infrastructure and driving industrialization through SMEs.
“These interventions were chosen because of their potential for fast-tracking economic recovery and expected contribution of the private sector to accelerating growth, which is one of the key principles of the ERGP. In other words, the execution priorities are catalysts for implementing all the strategies in the ERGP.
“These priority areas have cross-cutting potentials which are all focused towards empowering the people through creating jobs and improving their general conditions. In other words, all the areas indicated are underpinned by the emphasis on investing in the people. Every single one of the execution priorities has the people at the centre.”
The minister, faulting the media reports, also posited that human capital development spending has gone up.
And to demonstrate the commitment of government to improving human capital development at the national level, the statement noted that Federal Government has made significant increases in capital allocations in human capital related sectors in the last three years in spite of dwindling revenues.