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Why I spoke directly to Nigerian leaders – Bill Gates opens up

Microsoft Founder, Mr. Bill Gates, again on Monday has criticised the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

The Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in an interview with the CNN, said that the Federal Government’s investment in education and health was 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 told a room of Nigeria’s government elite that included the President.

Gates said he spoke out to implore Nigerian politicians 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.

Punch also reported that the philanthropist last Thursday had at a special session of the National Economic Council where he stated that Nigeria would do better with strong investments in health and education, rather than concentrate on physical infrastructure to the detriment of 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.

“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.”

However, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, in an interview with State House correspondents after the NEC meeting, faulted Gates claims insisting that the plan had enough provisions for education and health, adding that what was needed was for states to complement efforts of the Federal Government.

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