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Unnecessary controversies and hushed up recriminations have followed statement credited to the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, Co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates at the expanded National Economic Council Meeting of last Thursday, 22nd of March, 2018 that the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERCG) does effectively capture human capital development.
The second richest man in the globe took a swipe at the Federal Government’s economic policy pointing out that it play lip service to its enshrined commitment to invest in the people pointing that the ERCG prioritise physical capital over human capital. The Federal Government through its Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma claimed that there is patent media mis-representation of Mr. Gates asserting that he never dismissed the Economic Recovery and Growth Policy of the nation. However, Bill Gates expressed his Foundation’s commitment to work with Nigeria, a relationship which dated back to 2006 but expressed strong fears on the inevitable collapse of the policy if a drastic re-thinking is not done on the human content of the ERCG. He stated that Nigeria is still wallowing in the lower middle- income countries which is most worrisome, “If you invest in their health, education, and opportunities—the “human capital” we are talking about today—then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognize that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow. 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”. He submitted.
It is very instructive that we correctly interpret this frank and brutal admission of the failure of the policy which a syndicate of Bretton-wood financial institutions have been imposing on the country for more than three decades now. It would be recalled that that various military regimes, Nigeria gradually divested itself from playing core major investment roles in the provision of social infrastructures and amenities. The popular refrain then was that Government has no business in business. Thus, with this crass platitudes Nigeria State over years have been underfunding health, education and other social amenities. If any one is in doubt, historical records suffice to proof this point; the students mass protest of 1978 popularly called “Ali Must Go” was occasioned by attacks on rights to education and cutting of government expenditure on the sector, ditto the anti-SAP mass protest of 1989 was a direct challenge on gross underfunding of social sectors and cuts on Government’s policy of structural adjustment. There are many other strikes by the unions of academics, medical doctors and other personnel.
The resultant effects of these policies and peoples’ resistance were the plagues of brain drain and exile of many professional in the social sectors. It is an uncontestable fact that as the health and educational institutions as well as other infrastructure collapse in drove and atmosphere of terror and repression were imposed on the country, many professional flee the countries. Today, Nigeria has the best of its brains who have established colonies of what Akin Adeshina described as “grey matter infrastructure” in all parts of the globe, Europe, the United States of America, Asian nations and even fellow African nations like South Africa and Ghana.
Yes, as much as we agree with Mr. Gates that the Federal Government must re-jig its ERGP to reflect social human capital investment. This would not be an easy road if the Government and its overlords in the advanced industrial world do not publicly accept their infamous roles in ambushing and arresting the country’s development. It is a situation of those who are responsible for dismal conditions now passing the bucks around. Mr. Bill Gates is one a global leading proselytes of the neo-liberal socio-economic system, they must own up to this historical crime against Nigerian people and State.
It is a tragedy that the handlers of Nigeria economy and government cannot read in between the lines that what Bill Gates was pointing out is that there is systemic failure which would have drastic consequences on the country’s future growth plan. It is indeed a systemic self-indictment.

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