The World Bank has expressed worry at Nigeria’s low investment in health and education, describing the outcomes as poor.
This comes as the country was ranked 152 out of 157 countries in the first ever Human Capital Index released by the World Bank Group.
World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, while unveiling the report on Thursday at the ongoing annual meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Bali, said many African countries including Nigeria were in the red zone because of low budgetary allocation to health and education.
Responding to a question on the performance of Nigeria in the index, Kim said: Nigeria, unfortunately, ranks 152 out of 157 countries in the Human Development Index.
“We provide quite a bit of support for Nigeria in terms of the health budget. But we feel that the overall spending on health is far too low, 0.76% of GDP. And also the educational outcomes in Nigeria are very poor.
“Many African countries are in the red zone. I think that the World Bank has to take some responsibility for having emphasized hard infrastructure, roads, rails, energy, for a long time.
“And you know, that changed about 20 years ago. But there has still been the bias that says ‘You know, we’ll invest in hard infrastructure and then when we grow rich, we’ll have enough money to invest in health and education’.
“We’re now saying that that’s really the wrong approach, that you’ve got to start investing in your people right now.”
Kim urged African leaders to budget more for health and education.
“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.
“What’s happened is in many African countries if they don’t receive grant-based financing they simply don’t spend on health and education”.
In her remarks, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, advised the government to tighten monetary policy and ensure that refineries work for the benefit of citizens.
She said: “I would certainly start with a tight monetary policy, higher non‑oil revenue mobilization.
“I remind you that domestic revenue mobilization is 5 percent of GDP in Nigeria, and that is just way too low, relative to where Nigeria should be in order to address the issues of health, education, proper social spending on the people.
“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 equipment that is available in Nigeria works well and works for the benefit of Nigeria.”