The World Bank says it “has to take some responsibility’’ for advising Nigeria and other African countries to invest more in roads, railways and energy rather than in education and health.
The World Bank President, Mr Jim Yong Kim, made this known while briefing the media after the launch of the 2018 Human Capital Index (HCI), which ranked Nigeria 152nd out of 157 countries.
Kim briefed the media on Thursday at the on-going International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia.
“Nigeria unfortunately ranks number 152 out of 157 countries.
“We provide quite a bit of support for Nigeria in terms of health budget, but we feel that the overall spending on health is just far too low, 0.76 per cent of GDP.
“Also, the educational outcomes in Nigeria are very poor.
“Nigeria is one of the most important countries not only in Africa, but in the world and so we feel that it will be extremely important for Nigeria to really go on a different level all together in terms of their commitment to invest in human capital.
“I think that the World Bank has to take some responsibility for having emphasised hard infrastructure, roads, rails, energy for a very long time and I think that changed 20 years ago.
“But there is still then the bias that says we will invest in hard infrastructure and then when we grow rich, we will have enough money to invest in health and education.
“We are now saying that that’s really the wrong approach, that you’ve got to start investing in your people right now.’’
HCI seeks to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital and accelerate better and more investments in people.
Kim said that through the International Development Association, the World Bank had, since 2015, increased funding for Nigeria and other African countries towards alleviating poverty.
The message here is that Heads of State and Ministers of Finance have to take responsibility.
“What has happened is in many African countries, if they don’t receive grant-based financing, they just simply don’t spend on health and education.
“So we hope that this is a loud wake-up call for leaders throughout the African continent and especially in Nigeria.”
According to the human capital index, children born in Nigeria stand the chance of being 34 per cent as productive when they grow up as they will be if they enjoy complete education and full health.
Children in Nigeria can expect to complete 8.2 years of pre-primary, primary and secondary school by age 18.
However, when years of schooling are adjusted for quality of learning, this is only equivalent to 4.2 years, showing a learning gap of 4 years.
The World Bank report on adult survival rate across Nigeria shows that only 65 per cent of 15-year-olds survive until 60 years of age.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2018 Annual Meetings of the IMF and WBG brings together experts to discuss issues of global concern, including the World Economic Outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness.
Nigeria has expressed concern over the continued closure of shops run by Nigerians in Ghana two weeks after President Koffi Nana-Akudo gave the order to reopen them.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said in Abuja when the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) led by its President, Ken Ukuoha, paid her a visit.
Ukuoha led the Nigerian and Ghanaian Chapters of the union to present a petition, on the continuous closure of their shops, to President Mohammadu Buhari through Dabiri Erewa’s office.
He listed NANTs demand to include the immediate reopening of the over 400 Nigerian owned locked shops in Ghana.
He also called for the immediate return of all seized goods.Nigerian traders were shut-out of their business premises in pursuance of the eviction order dated 27th July 2018.
The Ghanaian authority demanded that traders must have a minimum foreign investment capital of one million dollars to do business in Ghana as stipulated in its Ministry of Trade and Industry (GIPC) Act, 2013.
She expressed worry that in spite of the assurance of Ghanaian President to President Buhari that the shops would be re-opened, and despite an instruction to reopen the shops on Sept. 27, the shops still remain closed.
“I am just going to start by appealing to you; I know it is painful, it is emotional and it is deep, but I just urge you to remain calm.
“I am surprised that after the announcement by President of Ghana on the reopening of the locked shops, they still remain under lock up till now.
“The president of Ghana paid a courtesy call on our president during the UN General Assembly in New York and he assured him that Nigerian traders were not being targeted.
“When they said foreigners, he assured that Nigerians were not the target; and since that time which was on Sept. 27, I am very surprised that, as at today, over 400 shops are still under lock in Ghana,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa expressed dismay that Ghanaian president was yet to honour his promise to reopen the shops 13 days after.
The presidential aide promised to convey the union’s message and petition to President Buhari, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS.
She urged the traders not to take laws into their hands, no matter how provocative the situation may be but to remain calm.
World Sight Day
The Nigerian Optometrist Association has called on all Nigerians to partner with it to chase blindness out of the country by regular eye checks and early treatment.
President of the association, Dr Ozy Okonokhua, who made the appeal during an exercise to mark the 2018 World Sight Day in Abuja, said many Nigerians knew very little about the health status of their eyes.
“The exercise is meant to capture data that would be used in propagating eye related issues in Nigeria.
“We lay emphasis on children and then the general public and the tool we use is able to capture the age, gender.
“We take a brief case history and record the visual accuracy, do external examination, and check the interior of the eye.
“This is to help us determine the actual health status of the people.
“We want to encourage Nigerians to take advantage of this exercise to chase blindness out of the country.’’
Also, the National President of Women Optometrists in Nigeria, Dr Adesuwa Ogli, explained that the World Sight Day was set aside for advocacy on issues of eye health.
Ogli said the association had organised screening programmes for residents of the FCT to offer treatment where necessary.
This year, optometrists in Nigeria are rallying in an effort to obtain support from the government and media for Vision 2020: “The Right to Sight Initiative and “My Sight, My Right Project.
The movement hopes to raise public awareness on vision impairment and blindness as major public health issues.
This year’s theme is tagged “Eye Care Everywhere’’. (NAN)
Oil and Gas
Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) has reiterated its commitment to partner with the Federal Government to achieve meaningful growth in the nation’s downstream sector.
Alhaji Abdullahi Idris, Deputy Chairman of NOGASA, said the association would continue to partner with government in the fight against oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Nigeria to tighten its monetary policies and strengthen non-oil revenue mobilisation efforts for a stronger economy.
The Managing Director of IMF, Ms Christine Lagarde, gave the advice on Thursday at a news conference on some of the key issues affecting global economies.
Lagarde said that domestic revenue mobilisation, which stood at five per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was too low to elevate the Nigerian economy to the level it should be.
“You know that domestic revenue mobilisation is five per cent of GDP in Nigeria and that is just way too low, relative to where Nigeria should be in order to address issues of health, education, proper social spending on the people and particularly the young people of Nigeria.
“That would certainly be a very strong recommendation that I would give her and structural reforms that would probably include really making sure that the refineries and the oil facilities that are available in Nigeria work well and work for the benefit of Nigeria.”
Lagarde said that work was on-going on the possible spill over effect of the trade war between the U.S. and China on Nigeria.
She, however, said that spill overs could occur in various volatile ways.
According to her, for that reason there cannot just be direct spill overs.
She added that the IMF was carrying out the exercise on country by country basis, very often taking scenarios that either would be proven true or hopefully proven wrong.
The IMF chief commended Nigeria for appointing another female, Mrs Zainab Ahmed as Minister of Finance to replace Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who resigned in September.
Lagarde described the world economy as strong, because the growth recorded is expected to remain steady at 3.7 per cent in 2018 and 2019.
She, however, said that the growth was not enough given that the increase had been stagnant for three years running and was more unevenly allocated around the world, adding that risks of trade barriers were rising.
The IMF chief said that if the tensions regarding the trade barriers were to escalate, the global economy would take a significant hit.
“Our strong recommendation is to de-escalate those tensions and to work toward a global trade system that is stronger, fairer and is fit for purpose and for the future.
“This is because if services are not sufficiently covered, if digital transformation is not covered in that trade framework, then we are missing the point and we are probably losing out on the productivity gains that we could have,’’ she said.
She noted that 10 years after the great global financial crisis, the world was safer, but not safe enough.
She also explained that with global and public debt at an all-time high, any slight change could provoke capital outflows and economic instability in emerging markets.
“To guard against this, our recommendation is certainly to encourage countries to have the right combination of domestic policies, using all the tools or the arrows that they have and for global policies to also reflect those requirements of safety.
“We also need to press ahead with the financial regulatory agenda and to resist the risk of backsliding,’’ Lagarde said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2018 Annual Meetings of the IMF and WBG was organised to bring together experts to discuss issues of global concern.
These include world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness. (NAN)