By G9ija

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has cited the long years it takes investments in health, education and other relevant human capital development projects, to materialise as one of the reasons many contemporary Nigerian politicians don’t like to invest in such sectors.

Mr El-Rufai said this in his goodwill message during the Human Capital Development (HCD) communications strategy validation meeting held in Abuja on Tuesday.

The meeting was organised by the National Economic Council’s HCD Core Working Group (CWG) in order to unveil a robust countrywide monitoring and evaluation framework meant to track progress on HCD across the 36 states in the country.

The governor described investments in both education and health as generational, saying it takes not less than 30 years for their results to show, but that politicians only have a four-year term in office with a maximum of eight years if returned for another term.

“Politicians tend to ignore education and healthcare for the reason that when you educate a child the results show long after you leave office, and for healthcare, if you don’t invest in people’s health and they die, they will say it’s an act of God.

“But road constructions, the building of secretariats are clear evidence for politicians to show,” the governor said.

He added that it is not that people do not want a good education and good healthcare facilities but “because we as political leaders run away from difficult strategic decisions and tend to focus on populist fire fighting actions.”

He appealed to his colleagues to imbibe the right culture and “do the right thing.”

“If we all agree that human capital is so important, why are we so backwards? Why are state governments not budgeting at least 25-26 per cent for education and at least 15 per cent for healthcare as recommended by the UN agencies? And when these monies are budgeted why are they not spent in the right ways?”

Nigeria’s HCD programme was launched in March 2018 by the National Economic Council (NEC) at a special meeting convened for the purpose.

The NEC, which is led by the country’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, and made up of the 36 states governors of the federation and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, conceptualised the initiative as part of efforts to demonstrate the significance of human capital development in addressing poverty and ensuring participatory and sustainable economic growth.

The programme is also proposed to increase investments in the Nigerian people and improve the human development indices of the country.

In her remarks, Yosola Akinbi, coordinator, The Core Working Group of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), said Nigeria needs to do much more in terms of HCD, and that the initiative is not about the federal or state governments alone, but for the benefit of all.

She said the unveiling of the strategy is to ensure that HCD indices of Nigeria move forward so that the country can be where it is supposed to be in the global pecking order in terms of health and nutrition, education and labour force.

Miss Akinbi said the key targets of the programme is to improve nutrition and to reduce childhood stunting by half from 44 to 22 per cent by 2030.

“Among other targets also include doubling primary school enrollment rates from 46 to 90 per cent and as well double youth participation in the labour force from 23 to 46 per cent by 2030 respectively,” she said.

Ade Ipaye, deputy chief of staff to the President, who represented Mr Osinbajo, said the meeting was convened to validate the communication strategy of the HCD in Nigeria.

He said the objectives of the strategy are clear and that it must be properly implemented.

“It is not a strategy designed for the north, west, south or the east, all the nuances must be properly represented,” Mr Ipaye said.

Mr El-Rufai further noted that the most important targets of the strategy are the political leaders.

“The strategy is clear, communication can be improved, we can work on the demand side of human capital development and even the supply side. But until and unless our political leaders realise the imperative of taking very difficult decisions for today so that generations to come will benefit, we will not make any progress,” he added.