Why Nigeria Must Give Priority to Human Capital Development


Thursday, February 21, 2019 7.45PM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV

At the recent Vanguard Economic discourse in Lagos, Chief Economist of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Dr Peter Ozo-Ezon, discussed issues centred on the advancement of Nigeria’s economy.

In his opening remarks Dr Ozo-Ezon noted that, “we look clearly at what is development; development is based on human beings, human welfare and that is why the concept of the human development index is a more embracing concept than GDP as it captures the welfare and development of human beings. It is a concept that as a nation we need to move towards in considering policy formulation and planning”.

Ozo-Ezon pointed out that one could have a country grow at 10% for decades and yet the country would  remain at the bottom of the development heap in terms of human advancement.

Nigeria according to him is a good example of this challenge because at a point in time over a period of a decade it grew at an average of 6%, yet it was one of the least ranked nations in terms of the human development index (HDI).

“I think in designing our policies and our plans we need to shift away from a fixation with GDP Growth and move to the issues of human development index. For instance: Education, Health that play key roles in determining the Human Development Index” He said.

He stressed the need for Nigeria to consciously grow its human capacity,  which will go a long way in lifting Nigeria from its present economic rut.

A second point raised by Ozo-Ezon is that in improving human capacity the country may not in the short-term be considered rich but over the medium to long term its superior work force will generate sustainable streams of economic value that would see to a sustained growth in both GDP and wealth, meaning a regular improvement in the country’s HDI. Citing the example of Cuba , Ozo-Eson said from United Nations Development Programme HDI assessment Cuba was doing very well and should be a country Nigeria should understudy.

Speaking further, he was of the view that the aggressive social intervention programme of President Lula Inacio Dasilva of Brazil, happened over a period of 8 years. Through Brazil’s SIP millions of citizens were lifted from abject poverty.

He said, the challenge for Nigeria is how it can utilize policies, a clear framework and robust planning to set a target for rapid improvement in terms of its human development indices.

Ozo-Ezon emphasised the need for leveraging  key drivers of HDI in the country; the drivers need to be identified and upscaled.

What we need as a nation is for our citizens to attain a level and quality of life that can be regarded as encompassing development. That is what the human development index actually projects in contrast to metrices say a society should grow so fast but have such a skewed  distribution of income that poverty becomes rampant and endemic”, the economist said.

He tasked Nigerian policy makers , to embrace  progressive policies that will move the nation from the fixation with growth to a broader consideration of development.

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