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.”
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.”
He said he would partner with the federal government on taxes to generate revenue for health and education.
In 2016, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with the Dangote Foundation committed $100 million to fight malnutrition.