Bill Gates: Why I spoke directly to Nigerian leaders

Agence France-Presse

Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, again on Monday told the CNN that his criticism of the Nigerian government was to ensure that the country put more investment in education and health sectors.

According to him, the current level of investments in those areas were just not good enough.

“While it may be easier to be polite, it’s more important to face facts so that you can make progress,” the philanthropist said at the special meeting of National Economic Council that included the governors, leading Nigerian businessmen as well as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

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Gates said he spoke out to impress on Nigerian politicians the need to focus on human capital and its large youth population.

“The current quality and quantity of investment in this young generation in health and education just isn’t good enough. So, I was very direct,” he told CNN.

The philanthropist had at a special session of the NEC last Thursday argued that Nigeria’s investment in capital infrastructure should go hand in hand with investments in health, education and human capital development.

He had said, “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.

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“In upper middle-income countries, the average life expectancy is 75 years. In lower middle-income countries, it’s 68; in low-income countries, it’s 62. In Nigeria, it is lower still, just 53 years.

“The Nigerian government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan identifies investing in the people as one of three strategic objectives. But the execution priorities don’t fully reflect people’s needs, prioritising physical capital over human capital. 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.”

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