By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Advocacies for investing in human capacities for development of human society were issues put on the front burner during a public conversation with various strata of the stakeholders in Minna, Niger State sponsored by budgit, a non governmental, public oriented development partners.
Tagged ”investing in the people of Nigeria; a conversation of a generation” the talkshop dwelt on encapacitation of citizens as pathway for general development, growth and well being.
The event held within the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Bosso campus, attracted students from the university, student nurses, women organizations, cooperatives, media practitioners, school teachers/head teachers amongst others.
Lead resource person at the conversation, Dr. Michael Olagbenro of the Michael Agbaakin Foundation, said malaria has remained a major killer disease in Nigeria and a huge drain pipe on the country’s resources.
In his presentation, Dr. Olagbenro gave a chilling statistics on the economic implications of the worsening effects of malaria infestation, diabetes, HIV AIDS and similar health challenges across the country.
He disclosed that as at 2015, Nigeria lost over $2 billion on the fight against malaria alone besides the thousands of lives lost.
He projected that by 2020, Nigeria could spend about $1.4 trillion on drugs for the treatment of Diabetes because the problem was now common features among all ages including children due largely to poor hygiene, poverty, illiteracy and weak capacities of citizens and health care delivery services.
Dr. Michael Olagbenro who is the Chairman, Chief Executive of the Michael Agbaakin Foundation, said Nigeria’s case is made worst by the inability to invest in people through good education, proper funding of the country’s primary healthcare sector and absence of a well coordinated health care delivery system.
He argued that investing in people have tremendous impact and benefits on the general economy of the country and it’s future. Dr. Olagbenro advocated for local government autonomy in Nigeria to allow the third tier of government handle the funding of primary health care delivery services to citizens at the grassroots and arrest such health challenges as malaria infestation which has become the number one killer disease in the country.
He argued further that the primary healthcare sector of the country’s health care delivery system would not work if the third tier of government is not given it’s autonomy to handle basic health care challenges.
Dr. Michael Olagbenro said citizens owe it a duty to ensure that their immediate environments were kept clean and safe just as he added that every citizen must be part of a community vanguard to clear all gutters and drainages, cuts grasses and vegetations, ensure proper disposal of waste and ensure personal hygiene at homes as precursor to eliminating malaria, cholera and such intestinal tract infections that are usually deadly and cost the country colossal waste of money on procuring drugs, medications and vaccines for treatment and cure.
Baba Mohammed Djukogi of the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, (IBBL) in Niger state who was also a panelist at the conversation, said bad leadership has remained a major challenge in Nigeria across all stratas of authority where there is no regard for human dignity, rights and privileges of citizens by those in positions of authority across all three tiers and even at local wards and communities.
Djukogi, a poet, literary icon, and writer, argued that unless citizens rise to demand for their rights and insist on what is proper, the circlical vicious corruption, embezzlement, poverty and maladministration would continue.
“Education is a right and it must be delivered and properly too” he said just as he added that it was regrettably sad that year after year, hundreds of thousands of students were churned out from secondary schools, but 90% of them don’t get to proceed to higher institutions of learning because there is no place for them”.
Djukogi said such unfortunate school leavers are turned back to the society and most of them end up as dregs and society’s misfits because the society has no plans for them and they lack the mind set to discover themselves and what they could do to better their lots.
A participant at the public discourse, Bala B. B, said corruption may mar the self actualization or autonomy for local governments as it was being clamoured.
He advised that certain crucial public services such as basic education, primary health care delivery system be expunged from the control and management by the third tier so as not to endanger such primary education and primary health care sector of the country before autonomy is granted to local councils.
He similarly called for proper citizens’ education on their rights and the institutionalization of stiffer penalties against theft and misappropriation of public resources by public office holders.
Bala, a veteran journalist and public affairs commentator, condemned the use of high profiled lawyers by corrupt politicians who had looted public wealth to defend themselves and their ill gotten wealth at the expense of the common wealth and the generality of citizens.
The General Manager of budgit, Gabriel Okeowo who moderated the discussions, said poverty, illiteracy and weak capacities amongst citizens have reduced the worth of the human mind and it’s capacity to pursue and actualise development.
Okeowo said budgit was going round the country creating awareness on investing in human capacities for posterity and encouraging youths in the country to discover themselves without without waiting for governments.