Nigeria has placed 152nd out of 157 countries measured in the Human Development Index (HDI). The President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, disclosed Nigeria’s position during a meeting at the on-going Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Bali, Indonesia.
“Nigeria, unfortunately, ranks 152nd out of 157 countries in the Human Development Index,” Yong said. “This is a very loud message to Africa. Africa needs to invest massively in education. The message here is that Heads of State and Ministers of Finance have to take responsibility.”
He also added that there was a lot of reliance on grants and when they don’t come in, countries fail to spend on health and education.
Yong said that the overall spending on health in Nigeria is too low, and the outcomes of education very poor. He stated that being an important country on the continent and across the world, Nigeria ought to be doing better in terms of investment in human capital.
“I think the World Bank has to take responsibility for emphasizing hard infrastructure – roads, rails, and energy for a very long time,” he said. “We are now saying that is a wrong approach. You have got to start investing in your people right now. Of all the reasons, why you need to do that is that the rapid change in technology, in fact, all the low-skilled jobs will be eliminated. Nobody is quite sure how long that will take but a child born today, in twenty years certainly, many of the low-skilled jobs today will be gone and the requirement for this child to earn income throughout his entire life is simply going to get higher.”
Why It Matters
The HDI is a tool that focuses on human beings and their capabilities as the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country. It allows the progress of a country to be measured beyond the country’s economic growth alone. It also allows for an analysis of the effectiveness and efficiency of certain national policies.
As the President of the World Bank pointed, Nigeria’s performance on health and education is quite poor. This will definitely be one of the major talking points in this election season, especially as there are arguments that the incumbent administration hasn’t prioritised human capital development. As an example, the education budget has consistently been below 10% of the total budget.
Already some 2019 presidential candidates are highlighting the issue.
– Obiageli Ezekwesili, the candidate of the ACPN, said on Sunday that if she is elected president, she will not take her eyes away “from any of these four planks at any time:
- A high standard of living which we shall measure by real GDP per capita.
- A high knowledge capital which we shall measure by adult literacy.
- A high longevity which we shall measure by life expectancy at birth.
- A strong, resilient, sustainable and thriving nation which we shall measure by the fragility index. “
On his part, the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had previously said: “Investment in human capital is not simply a cost; it is an investment, the most important of all investments. To produce skilled and healthy workers and knowledgeable and engaged citizens is critical for Africa. Let me also say that economic growth and employment and wealth creation are not just socially important. They are also critical for the national security of African states.”
Another candidate, Kingsley Moghalu of the YPP, has repeatedly said on the campaign trail that “Innovation and skilled human capital, not natural resources, must be the foundational basis of economic activity in the New Nigeria.”