By Nnedi Ogaziechi

Bill Gates was here penultimate week. No matter how bad we feel about his observations, it comes as very ironic that he seems to love us and our people more than we love ourselves. There are two key areas that he pointed out must get very urgent attention; education and healthcare. He is coming from a system that puts value on the two key sectors; so he should know.

Bill Gates did not graduate from Harvard but today he is one of the most fulfilled individuals on earth. He lives his dream because he is healthy enough to do what he loves most. The functional education, up to the high school level, equipped him to go into becoming one of the richest men on earth. The key words here are functional education and good health.

As I write, however, there are reports of the outbreak of measles and cholera in the IDP camps in the North East. This is in addition to the reports of the sexual violations that had been reported, and the fact that most of the children in the camps are seriously retarded for those lucky enough to survive. But what have the governments there done?

Ordinarily, the human capital determines the prosperity index of any nation despite what might be the other material endowments therein. The situations in the IDP camps are dire but all around the country there is no calculated effort at improving the education and healthcare of citizens.

For a country as endowed as Nigeria, the political class must take Mr. Gates very seriously. He has been magnanimous with his wealth and has spent so much in our health sector, enough to make him observe there has been no commensurate effort from Nigerian policy makers.

Ironically, for the politicians being addressed, it is business as usual. There are no regrets about his observations or a concerted effort to retrace steps. Sadly, all focus is on the next elections and even that has no clear indications of what can be done differently.

For a country with one of the highest numbers of out of school children in the modern world, most of the governors are more interested in plotting their ways back to government houses or trying very hard to install their cronies in their stead.

The world economy is like a relay race, the choice of the runners determines who gets to the finish line first and successfully too. With poor education and health sectors, no human development can happen but it seems those in positions do not consider those important.

It is amazing that the political class, as a unit, do not bother much about service to the people or a vision for the future of the country. In a world ruled by ideas and technology, how would the Nigerian population catch up with modern development?

From maternal and child mortality to various infectious and non-infectious diseases, the healthcare in the country has not been developed to a level where the people are assured of the minimum level of care in the country. Sadly, as we lose people through deaths and disabilities, no one knows who could have turned out our Bill Gates amongst the people.

Education as key to development cannot be overemphasised in a twenty first century economy. However, most of the state governors are more interested in showcasing renovated school buildings and wasting money on media showcasing structures, for political expediency, than really mobilising citizens and putting a system to enhance functional education. Functional education does not really mean certificates. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and all other inventors around the world became successful because of the basic education and the functional infrastructure they benefitted from.

Originally published in Independent

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