Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Health, Professor Ali Pate has asked the government to focus on developing its abundant human resources, as a way of improving its global business competitiveness.
Pate, who is a Professor at the Duke Global Health Institute in North Carolina US, told Voice of Nigeria that rapidly developing human capital remains one of Nigeria’s best guarantees of accelerating the development of the country.
Professor Pate said that ‘the choices we make today about children, about basic education, about vaccination will begin to bear fruit in 20 years to come when the children born today, grow into adulthood. if the children are malnourished and are stunted and their brains are cognitively impaired, then development would also be impaired and so making those choices today is a good complement to infrastructural development.”
He noted that such choices would also determine the level of foreign investments that could be attracted to Nigeria
According him, Nigeria’s ranking on the global competitiveness index contributes to quantum of investment it attracts.
”When you look at the World Economic forum Competitiveness Index, one of the criteria they look at includes basic education and basic healthcare, because it has to do with human capacity of the people. If you are investing today in a manufacturing business, you want to go where you will get the people with the brains to be able to contribute,” Pate stated.
He argued that improving quality of education and access to health would in turn improve the country’s competitiveness.
Professor Pate while commending the budgetary allocation to social services and governments new focus on education sector, challenged Civil Society Organizations and the media to monitor the implementation of the budget.
He said ”Nigeria’s problem is not only the policies or just the budget; it is actually in the implementation and execution. Again execution is not just about putting money, it is about the attitude to work and it is also about having an information system to track the budget’s implementation.’’
President Muhammadu Buhari on May 9 signed the 2016 N6.06 trillion ‘Budget of Change’.
Presenting a breakdown of the budget in Abuja on Thursday, Minister of Budget and National Planning Mr Udoma Udo Udoma listed education projects in the budget to include
- N342.1 million secondary schools quality assurance programme across 6 geo-political zones;
- N817.1 million for statutory visitation and monitoring of 90 federal tertiary institutions;
- N2.1 billion for serving ongoing and new local and foreign scholarships.
Interventions into the health sector include:
- N12.6 billion for vaccines, devices and operations programmes for polio, measles, yellow fever, etc
- N1.3 billion counter-part contributions for procurement and distribution of antiretroviral drugs and contraceptive commodities
He also listed Special intervention Projects to include that budget include the establishment of volunteer Teacher Corps and employment of 500,000Graduate Teachers; provision for Annual Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) BURSARIES to 100,000 eligible undergraduates.