Why Nigeria Must Invest in Human Capital Development—Network

By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News

Nigeria with a population of more than 200 million people, was ranked 152 out of 157 in the World Bank Human Capacity Index, at a potential value of 0.34 ahead of Liberia, Mali, Niger, South Sudan, Chad and tagging behind Sierra Leone in 2018.

In 2020, Nigeria in another assessment by the World Bank under the Human Capital Development Project, recorded a HCI score of 0.36 point, indicating a 0.02 point improvement in its Human Capital Index. HCI score of 0.36 means that a child born in Nigeria today will be 36% as productive compared to if they enjoyed complete education and full health. Such a child only has a 36% chance of living up to their full potential due to the unacceptable state of various socio-economic development.

The Human Capital Index (HCI), is a report, prepared by the World Bank to measure which countries are best in mobilizing the economic and professional potential of its citizens. The index measures Human Capital Development (HCD) and how much capital each country loses through lack of education and health. It also measures how much human capital a child born today expects to acquire by age 18, given the risks to poor health and poor education that prevail in the country where she lives.

Human Capital Development (HCD) according to the HCD project of the World Bank, was defined as the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of society. Advancing HCD requires investing in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills, and this is key to ending extreme poverty and creating more inclusive societies.

The first edition of the Human Capital Index (HCI), published by the World Bank Group in October 2018 and updated in 2020, shows that nearly 60% of children born today will be, at best, only half as productive as they could be with complete education and full health. This reflects a serious human capital crisis, with strong implications for economic growth and the world’s collective ability to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Economic growth and development depend on both human capital and physical capital, and on the factors affecting productivity. Investments in these areas complement and reinforce each other. To be productive, a workforce needs physical capital, such as infrastructure, equipment, and a stable well-governed economy. In turn, a healthy, educated workforce can earn more and invest more in an economy’s physical capital.

As noted in the World Development Report (WDR) 2019: The Changing Nature of Work, the frontier for skills is moving rapidly, bringing both opportunities and risks. There is mounting evidence that unless they strengthen their human capital, countries cannot achieve sustained, inclusive economic growth, will not have a workforce prepared for the more highly skilled jobs of the future, and will not compete effectively in the global economy. The cost of inaction on human capital development is going up.

Nigeria’s performance on Human Capital Development Index is abysmal, despite its vast natural resources, said the Human Capital Development Network (HCDN) at a Media Orientation Parley which held recently in Abuja, in collaboration with the Lafiya Programme, with the theme: Catalyzing the Media as Partners for Human Capital Development in Nigeria. The parley provided an opportunity to discuss and reflect on HCD as the future of the country.

Highly concerned by Nigeria’s performance on the Index, the  HCDN— a Network of development practitioners, Civil Society Organizations, and Media with membership drawn from the 36 states and FCT was established to advance the cause of HCD in Nigeria through advocacy and accountability.

Established in 2018 as a response to the World Bank launch of the first Human Capital Index (HCI), the Network is forging consensus and collaboration among a wide array of stakeholders towards engendering HCD as a policy objective at all levels and raising the accountability bar for efficient investment to advance the HCD agenda across all levels and sectors.

The overall objective of the HCDN is to forge consensus and collaboration towards engendering HCD as policy objective at all level and raise accountability bar for efficient investment towards advancing the agenda, said Dr. Gafar Alawode.

Alawode listed the specific objectives of the Network to include: To sensitize and deepen the knowledge of key stakeholders including the political class, civil society, media and religious group on the centrality of HCD to our collective wellbeing; To forge a consensus and collaboration among stakeholders for robust policy advocacy to advance the cause of HCD;

To stimulate both public and private investment towards accelerated progress on Human Capital Development; To establish and sustain an accountability framework for HCD that will raise the accountability bar for political support and efficient investment including scrutiny of revenue raising efforts of the government; and To generate and use evidence of the current state of HCD including implications of business as usual and dividend of heightened political support for the HCD agenda.

In order to improve Nigeria’s performance on the HCI, the Network recommended as a matter of urgency and national importance, that: The federal government through the Human Capital Development Core Working Group under the National Economic Council should fast track the process of engagement with the tiers of government to further engender HCD as a development policy objective; Increase investments across the health and education sectors evidenced by timely release of budgetary allocations, full release and cash backing of appropriated sums and effective utilization of such funds.

They also recommended that Government at all levels see the current security challenge ravaging all parts of the country as a consequence of under-investment in the human capital of the citizenry and therefore consider HCD investment as a potent intervention towards accelerated growth, shared prosperity, enhanced productivity of the citizenry and enduring peace; Ensure greater transparency and accountability in social investment especially for health and education expenditures; Foster citizen participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of HCD-related interventions to enhance ownership of such interventions at the grassroots.

Furthermore, HCDN called on the three arms of government at both Federal and State levels to engender HCD as policy objectives for national progress and deploy available resources towards design and implementation of policy thrust articulated in the Nigeria’s HCD vision document; Various Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government should work together to ensure synergy in the design and implementation of HCD related policy thrusts across sectors.

They also called on the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to ensure the state Governors include HCD on their priority agenda, follow-up on implementation and encourage knowledge sharing amongst the governors; The Media and Civil Society should raise and sustain the accountability bar for HCD policy action and ensure that government across all tiers make adequate budgetary provision for HCD-related policy thrusts without compromising efficiency of resource utilization.

They urged the CSOs to scrutinize the manifestoes of the political parties for HCD-related content and demand for reprioritization of HCD action; and Religious and traditional leaders should support with awareness creation and encourage their subject and followers to support the HCD vision.

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