The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has appealed to all stakeholders, including community service organizations, the private sector, traditional leaders and development partners, to join hands with the government to address the problems of human capital capacity building in the country.

Noting that the need to improve the capacity of the nation’s human resource has become more imperative now than ever, the minister listed some of the challenges constraining the quality of the nation’s human capital as including demography, stunting and education.

It would be recalled that the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Index report published a few days ago ranked Nigeria 152 out of 157 countries covered in the Index.

A statement issued by the minister’s Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Paul Ella Abechi, on Sunday quoted her as saying that all hands must be on deck to build Nigeria’s human capital base.

Ahmad noted that the country can do better because “we have done better and we have to do it for the sake of our children.”

The minister recalled that a Human Capital Core Working Group comprising key agencies of the government, private sector, non-government, and development partners was formed to develop a unified vision for human capital development.

She promised: “In the immediate future the Government of Nigeria will focus on high-impact policies and interventions to make dramatic progress in improving human capital. For example, Nigeria is on the cusp of eradicating polio. This would be an important accomplishment as the last polio cases were found in the conflict-stricken North-East states of Borno and Yobe. Other more complex human capital challenges including demography, out-of-school children, learning quality, under-five child mortality, youth employment and women empowerment will require sustained long-term efforts.”

While noting that the World Bank Human Capital Index report was disheartening, Zainab pointed out that the report reinforced the call for action already embedded in the “Investing in People” pillar of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

According to her, the ERGP’s vision for a healthy, educated, productive, and resilient population is ambitious but necessary to ensure we can grow and compete in the economies of the future, reduce poverty and achieve peace and stability.

To address the challenges, the minister stressed that the Federal Government would continue to empower states to identify and implement programmes that will allow for citizens to access their right to basic health and education while holding States accountable to deliver results.

In addition to the focus on the future, she said that government would also focus on the current stock of human capital by supporting interventions that lift people out of poverty, enable them to access health and education services and be empowered as well as increase financing for human capital development.