A Nigerian minister has claimed that the media misinterpreted what American billionaire and philanthropist, Bill Gates, said about Nigeria’s economic plans during his visit to Nigeria.
Mr Gates had at the special and expanded National Economic Council, held in Abuja on Thursday, said the present economic template being used by the Muhammadu Buhari government does not have the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians at present.
The philanthropist and founder of Microsoft corporation said the Nigerian government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) identifies “investing in our people” as one of three “strategic objectives” but the “execution priorities” do not fully reflect people’s needs, “prioritising physical capital over human capital.”
Mr Gates said the most important choice Nigerian leaders can make is “to maximise the country’s greatest resource, which is the people.”
The investor also advised the Nigerian government to shifts its attention from oil to the agricultural sector so as to make it a steady and alternative means of revenue generation for the country.
In response, the minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, in a statement on Friday said the media misunderstood the context in which Mr. Gates made his remarks and that he could not have faulted the Federal Government’s ERGP.
“It seems the context in which Mr. Gates made his remarks was not well understood.
“A close reading of his statement shows that the point Mr. Gates was making was that the human capital development should have been explicitly indicated as part of the execution priorities of the ERGP.
“This is not the same as saying that the ERGP does not address human capital development or that Mr. Gates faulted Nigeria’s economic plans as some newspapers put it.”
Mr Udoma said the ERGP prioritises human capital development, insisting that the priority areas of the ERGP have cross-cutting potentials which are all focused towards empowering the people and improving their general conditions.
“The ERGP rests on the three pillars of restoring growth, investing in the Nigerian people and building a competitive economy.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in April 2017 unveiled a four-year ERGP (2017-2020) to help propel the country towards the path of development and growth.
ERGP is an economic plan that builds on the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), a short term plan aimed at tackling corruption, improving security and rebuilding the nation’s economy.
ERGP seeks to build on the SIP by restoring growth, investing in people and build a global competitive economy.
While some Nigerians remained optimistic that the plan will succeed, others said it is not comprehensive enough.
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