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Thursday, 22 March 2018

El-Rufai tackles Bill Gates, says Buhari’s plan reflects needs of Nigerians

El-Rufai tackles Bill Gates, says Buhari’s plan reflects needs of Nigerians

Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, says it is incorrect to say the execution process of the economic and recovery growth plan (ERGP) does not truly reflect the needs of Nigerians.

He said this in response to a statement made by Bill Gates at the expanded national economic council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

“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, prioritising physical capital over human capital,” Gates had said.

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He said this priority would lead to a “sharp limit on how much the country can grow”.

Reacting to Gates’ comment, el-Rufai, who was among the governors at the meeting where Gates spoke, said the ERGP has enough provision for human capital.

He said what is needed is not an adjustment of the ERGP but for state governments to adopt similar plans.

“On the review of ERGP as suggested by Gates, it is not correct to say that the economic recovery and growth plan does not give primacy to human capital, it is not correct,” el-Rufai said.

“The economic recovery and growth plan has enough provision for human capital, it is a federal government plan, what is needed is for states to have similar plans as well as adequate provisions for healthcare and education.

“Because the bulk of the burden for healthcare and education really rests on states governments. The disease burden of the country is largely at the primary healthcare level and this primary healthcare system is broken completely, we need to rebuild it.

“It is the responsibility of the states rather than the federal government. The federal government incentifies with funding, grants and aids. But essentially, routine immunization, primary healthcare, is the responsibility of the states.

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“So it is not gaps in the ERGP that we are looking at, it is appealing to states governments to provide more money in basic education, primary healthcare. It is not the ERGP that needs adjustments, it is the budgeting that needs to be ramped up in these two key areas because these are where the problems are.

“If a child losses equality education, he is done for life. If a child doesn’t get quality healthcare in the first two years, he is destroyed for life. This is the message that we invest more at the lower level, so that we prevent this disaster from happening.”

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.

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