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North West Afflicted By Highest School Dropout, Poverty Rate In Nigeria — Nasir el-Rufai

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, yesterday in Abuja, said the North- West geo-political zone of the country had human development indices closer to those of the Afghanistan, saying region was afflicted with the highest number of out-of-school children and the highest poverty rate in Nigeria.

Governor el-Rufai, who spoke at the Human Capital Development Communication Strategy meeting organized by the National Economic Council, NEC, under the chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the North-West region was in crisis.

Prof Osinbajo, who was represented at the event by his Chief of Staff, Dr Ade Ipaye, said the meeting’s objectives were to ensure that stakeholders have shared understanding of the Human Capital Development, HCD, programme objectives and its importance to Nigerians among others.

According to Governor el-Rufai, “I represent the northwest zone in Human Capital Development Council. As you know, our part of the country is afflicted with the highest number of out of school children, some of the highest poverty rates and some of the highest drop-out rates in our schools.

“As if that is not enough, many of our schools are now closed due to the insecurity around our boarding schools. In most of the states of the Northwest, schools have been closed for a while, while security operations are taking place making our educational situation worse.

“Our health statistics are not better. When you disaggregate the national data into zones and regions, it is clear that most of Southern Nigeria have statistics that are middle income country while most of the Northwest have human development indices that are closer to those of Afghanistan. Our region is in crisis.

“This is why you will notice that only the Northwest has the highest representation of governors or deputy governors here. the deputy governor of Katsina State is here because this subject is very important to us. It keeps us awake at night.

“We have the largest population of any geopolitical zone in the country. That is both a blessing and a curse. Our large population is a blessing, if we keep the population healthy and educate the children and give them skills for the future and a curse if they are not educated.

“This is what we are seeing with our insecurity. Most of the bandits we arrested have never gone to school. They have no notion of religion, whether Christianity or Islam, and they have no hope. If we do not invest in education, healthcare, nutrition, our situation will just get worse.”

Stressing the need for political leaders in the country to always “do the right thing” while providing governance, Governor el-Rufai, commended Prof Osinbajo for providing the political will as well as being in the forefront to facilitate attention needed to address the challenge.

He said, “Because it is all about political will. We have spoken here, there is a clear strategy and all talk about implementation. If we all agree that human capital is so important, why are we so backwards?”

“Why are state governments not budgeting at least 25 percent, 26 percent for education and for health care, as recommended by you the United Nations (UN) agencies? And when these monies are budgeted, why are the money not spent in the right way that politicians have a four year election cycle?

But it takes 30 years for the result of investment in education to show. But building roads, building secretariats are clearly evident.

“Politicians tend to ignore education and healthcare, the results show long after you leave office. In my humble opinion, the most important target of this message is our political leaders. The strategy is clear, the communication can be improved. We can work on the demand side of human capital development services, we can work on the supply side, but until and unless our political leaders realise the imperative of taking very difficult decisions for today, so that generations will benefit.

“I want to call on all of us to continue this conversation and continue to put pressure not just on the demand and supply sides of human capital, health, education, nutrition and so on. But on the political leaders that ultimately make the decisions, on budgeting, on spending, and on getting results”


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