May 17, 2024

Nigeria’s human capital remains its greatest asset – Shettima 


VP Shettima

—Inaugurates NEC’s Human Capital c’ttee

–Task members on education, jobs, healthcare delivery

—Says investing in human capital, an economic necessity

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja 

Vice President Kashim Shettima said on Friday that Nigeria’s human capital remains its greatest asset, and investing in its development is not only a moral responsibility but also an economic necessity.

The Vice President stated this when he inaugurated the revamped National Economic Council (NEC) Human Capital Development (HCD) Steering Committee, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said that the federal government reconstituted the committee to reflect the new leadership of the nation and bring all stakeholders together. 

Senator Shettima also noted the determination of President Bola Tinubu’s administration to bolster labour force participation, even as he issued a fervent call to action. 

Delivering his speech titled, “The Burden of Trust in Leadership Transition,” the VP tasked the new committee with the solemn responsibility of delivering tangible progress on the three core pillars of health and nutrition, education, and labour force participation. 

He said each phase of their obligation to serve the nation reminded them of the impacts of their choices, pointing out that the current day was no exception. 

“This is the future we seek, a future where every Nigerian has the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and contribute to the prosperity of our nation. 

“I believe that this alignment of interests signals the approval of what HCD sets out to accomplish—the addition of 24 million healthy, educated, and productive Nigerians to our expanding population by 2030,” VP Shettima stated, declaring that “every Nigerian must thrive under the new administration’s visionary agenda. 

“Our human capital remains our greatest asset, and investing in its development is not only a moral responsibility but also an economic necessity,” he added. 

Aligning the HCD programme’s objectives with President Tinubu’s eight-point agenda, including eradicating poverty and creating jobs, the Vice President said that “every Nigerian must thrive” for the country to realize its true potential. 

“We are going to rely on defined frameworks and data to pursue investment in healthcare systems that are resilient, accessible, and responsive to the needs of our citizens,” Shettima added. 

He noted that the Tinubu administration is committed to prioritising preventative care, reducing child mortality and stunting, tackling malnutrition, and improving maternal health. 

The Vice President further said it is imperative to ensure access to quality schooling for every Nigerian child, noting that education is a catalyst for unlocking opportunities and fostering a skilled workforce capable of thriving in the 21st-century economy. 

“The HCD programme invites each of us to participate in ensuring that every child has access to quality schooling,” he affirmed. 

On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, lauded the move, saying, “It is extremely gratifying that the Vice President has deemed it fit to inaugurate this very important group. 

“For many years, a lot of Nigerians have been yearning for the resuscitation of this group, having seen the modest contribution it made in the previous administration,” he added. 

Speaker Tajudeen affirmed the National Assembly’s commitment to legislative collaboration, noting that “our take in the House of Representatives and, by extension, the National Assembly is to say we would be a worthy collaborator legislatively. 

“Coincidentally, most of the sectors captured under this particular group are also embedded in our legislative agenda and the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda,” he further noted. 

Also, Kwara State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, said their presence at the event signified the governors’ commitment to human capital development. 

“The need for upward integration of various HCD programmes, especially in education, healthcare, and social protection, cannot be overemphasized. The ultimate aim is to improve the lives of our citizens. We are ready to trickle down and right to the local government all the programmes that are necessary to uplift our citizens.” 

Also speaking, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, underscored the strategic importance of the initiative, saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. 

“We know where we are today, and we know where we should be. There is very good evidence that investments in education, health, women, and girls are the right investments,” he maintained. 

Prof Pate emphasized the need for a “whole of government and whole of society approach to governance where every individual’s productivity is optimized,” calling upon state governors to develop subnational HCD indices to measure progress. 

Present at the meeting were Anambra State Governor, Prof Charles Soludo; Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani; and Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun. 

Others are Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; a representative of the Minister of Education, and representatives of development organizations, including the World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ECOWAS, Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO); Tony Elumelu Foundation, and Dangote Foundation. 

Meanwhile, after the inauguration of the Steering Committee, the Core Committee went into a working session where Vice President Shettima told them that they “have a window of opportunity to rekindle hope for the millions of destitute Nigerians.” 

He said whatever solutions they bring before the table, “President Tinubu has the courage of conviction to implement; otherwise, he couldn’t have taken the far-reaching reforms that he took.”

The VP continued: “As we set the ball running, I am confident that I can count on the technical expertise that each of you brings to this critical programme. The task ahead is immense, and so are the stakes. The stakes are very high, but I’m absolutely certain that with the calibre of people we have here.

“I must also remind us that the responsibility of the Core Working Group—the responsibility that you carry—is not just that of the government. It is a collective burden of an entire nation, of an entire continent, of an entire race. Millions of Nigerians look up to us for solutions to our areas of focus, progress in our delivery, and a better tomorrow.” 

Afterward, the Core Committee went into a closed-door deliberation, which was presided over by the Special Adviser to the President on NEC and Climate Change/Acting Coordinator, Core Working Group (CWG) HCD; Rukaiya El-Rufai.