A Keynote Speech Delivered @ the Founder’s Day Lecture @ El Amin School, Minna, Niger State Founded by Mrs Maryam Babanginda.
One legacy of Mrs. Maryam Babangida is in the fact that she used her position as First Lady in her time to call attention to women representation and especially to connect rural development to the poor economic conditions of women in the rural enclaves of Nigeria. To have made the country start discussing the matter of gender inclusion in our Development process was indeed a worthy contribution to nation building. We all now see how critical it is for nations to be mindful of harnessing both genders to build dynamic and inclusive societies.
Whenever I am asked the two most urgent issues Nigeria must address, I respond — Productivity and Competitiveness. They are intertwined. The more productive an economy becomes, the more probable that it can be competitive in the things it does better. The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is its human talent—the skills and productivity of its workforce. Similarly, an organization’s performance is determined by the human capital that it possesses and its ability to use this resource efficiently. It is the combination of healthy citizens promoting health and education systems plus access to basic services of water, sanitation and clean environment that enable countries to transform their human beings to world-class human capital.
Education which is at the heart of Human Capital capital development is itself the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Education can be formal or informal, oral – through storytelling and discussion or written through teaching and training in a classroom setting. Education is a lifelong process that continuously helps in upgrading the capacity of a society to solve its problems which themselves are dynamic. Societies that place a premium on educating all their people are better and speedier in achieving development. There is now a global agreement that for equity, all persons are entitled to a minimum standard of education. It is a reason for the agreement of nations to the goal of Universal Access to Primary Education.
According to the 2015 Report of UNICEF on Out-Of-School-Children, “ The primary school net enrolment rate in developing regions of the world reached 91 percent in 2015, up from 83 percent in 2000.
The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide has fallen by almost half, to an estimated 57 million in 2015, down from 100 million in 2000.
The Report stated that Sub-Saharan Africa has had the best record of improvement in the primary education of any region since the MDGs were established. The region achieved a 20 percentage point increase in the net enrolment rate from 2000 to 2015, compared to a gain of 8 percentage points between 1990 and 2000.” Unfortunately, while the rest of the world improved in reducing the rate and the absolute number of out-of-school-children, conversely Nigeria worsened over the last decade. Doubly unfortunate is that the deterioration worsened after the slight improvement during the 2006/2007 to 2008/2009 academic session when a Big Push was done by the Federal Government using the Universal Basic Education Commission- UBEC – to incentivize State Governments to do more on Education. Nigeria today has the largest number of OOSC in the world. That over 13.2 million Nigerian school-age children are anywhere but the classroom places a blot on our signature to the Sustainable Development Goals Two: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
These days more than any other time in history, the economic health of a country depends upon the skills, knowledge, and capacities of its people. But not just economic for as many studies have shown the overall stability, prosperity and progress of any nation can be determined by how inclusively it runs. Since the population of each country is made up of males and females and number can therefore matter; it is only those countries that invest on and utilise both sexes in their development process that can quicker attain their development objective. By helping each citizen – male and female – to acquire these human assets of skills, knowledge, and capacities a society secures itself and guarantees a stable future.
Education has proven itself as the bedrock of human progress. It improves the status of citizens of any society, providing each individual with the capacity to function and contribute to economic development with intergenerational benefits that stabilize the future. Human development progress is therefore a key feature of stable societies. Little wonder that countries with lower Human Development indicators tend to be more brittle and prone to conflict. The lower the human development score of society, the higher the level of poverty, and in a viciously cyclical way, widespread poverty becomes a causative factor itself for lower human development and a trigger for conflict and insecurity of all types.
The good news was that until the recent devastating impact of the oil price shock on economic growth, the Nigerian economy had over the last decade and a half shown resilience by growing and sustaining an average of 7% per annum. Even at that, the insufficiency of the economic growth story is that it has left the majority of our populace still struggling to attain the human dignity that is core to human security. It has thus spurned critical questions on the quality and composition of growth that (according to data by the National Bureau of Statistics poverty) leaves 61% of citizens poor in a country that generated by estimate of public budgets, more than $500 billion dollars in oil revenue alone in the last one decade alone? With 60% of the poor in Nigeria estimated to be women and 70% estimated youths, even if we in the future reversed the current fragile growth of 1.4% and began to once again grow at 6- 7% it will not be sustained without deepening the role of education and literacy of at least most if not all of our citizens.
The overall unemployment level (11%) and underemployment (18%) level are rising further. The annual average level of unemployment and underemployment for the youthful segment of our population at 40% instructs the need for bolder actions. Consider that Nigeria is a youthful country with 63% of its population under the age of 25 and then consider that half of them are girls. That should immediately throw up a discussion on what the future of such a country would be without harnessing such large army of citizens who are not part of the productive process but especially not deliberating focusing on the girls as a key part of the inclusive development agenda. Extremely relevant to our discussion today is that the face of exclusion from the success stories of economic growth is the young girl of 18 years in rural Nigeria with no education and no skills and hence no life prospects according to one of the studies conducted at the World Bank at the time I was in charge of its Africa Region operations.
A negligible change in the structure of the Nigerian economy since our independence in the 1960s has left us with the consequence that manufacturing remains below 15% of Gross Domestic Product even if at $430 Billion it is the largest on the continent. Although oil has shrank from more than 35-40 % of GDP up until the early 2000s to just under 15% its impact on the economy remains profound accounting for over 95% of export earnings and 80% of the public budget. Such absence of structural economic transformation has thus meant a narrowing of opportunity for labor to be rapidly absorbed of even those among the excluded population of girls/women and youths that have received varying levels of education not to talk of the ones without any form of education or skills.
The massive unemployment bedeviling Nigeria remains so because our indigenous private sector is underdeveloped compared to the countries of Asia and Latin America where small businesses account for more than 60 percent of the economy or 75% in America. The fact that these regions of the world also have higher Human Development Index scores than Africa suggest that it is a key factor in preparing citizens to lead economic change and the more that happens, the larger the opportunities created for more trained people to enter an expanding private sector.
Evidently, human development is a driver of prosperity since it helps create the basis for economic and social mobility in a society. Where human development is however low, it becomes a driver of poverty. Nigeria’s Human development score stands at less than .5 out of a possible 1. It is certainly one of the major explanations for the disconnect between huge oil revenues and more than a hundred million poor citizens of Nigeria. Southern Nigeria has consistently higher scores for human development, gender development, and empowerment. The North East has the lowest human development, followed by the North West Nigeria. The average poverty level in the three northern zones is 73.8% compared to an average of 63.3% in the South according to a report published by the British Council Nigeria, in 2012. Poverty is much lower in urban areas (12.6%) than in rural areas (44.9%), and the urban poverty reduction dynamic is much stronger.
In a World Bank report — The NER 2014 which also documents major differences in poverty and living standards by macro-region in Nigeria. While the South of Nigeria has relatively low poverty rates, ranging from 16% in the South West to 28.8% in the South East, poverty rates in the North West and North East are 45.9% and 50.2%, respectively. While the South of Nigeria (especially the South West) has experienced a strong positive dynamic in poverty reduction in recent years, the poverty rate in the North West has remained stagnant, while poverty has actually increased in the North East. Thus, disparities between the North (North West, North East) and South of Nigeria in poverty and living standards have increased. This is no doubt related to the recent security challenges in the Northern part of Nigeria. Explanatory factors for the high differences in living standards by geographical region are likely related to differences in the provision of public services and the degree of connectedness to larger markets. ”
This is why everyone cutting across governments, the private sector, communities, families and individual citizens have unique roles to play in a collaborative effort to expand access to quality and relevant education for all Nigerians of school age. The kind of education that will enhance our society is one that “nurtures the mind, creates a good society and competes globally”.
There is an important Gender dimension to the challenge of improving access to education to our citizens. The number of girls with access to school and completing primary and secondary education in the South is higher than in the North and this is a major contributor to higher levels of poverty in the latter region of Nigeria. In a study, “Girl Child Education: Rising to the Challenge” by academics; Grace Nmadu, Solomon Avidime, Olugbenga Oguntunde, Binta Abdulkarim. and Mairo Mandara, published in the African Journal of Reproductive Health in 2010 found that: “Northern Nigeria‟s high gender inequity in education places the majority of young girls at a severe disadvantage.”
The cross-sectional study examined enrolment, dropout, and primary school completion rates in three communities in Kaduna State. It found that less than half of young people (6 – 25 years) living in northern Nigeria are currently enrolled in school and the majority of students are males (60%). The analysis found that there are nearly twice as many boys graduating from primary school as girls, and the dropout rate for boys is just about half (3%) of the dropout rate for girls (5.4%)”. As few as 20% of women in the north-west and northeast of the country are literate.
Inequality and its root cause can be traced to unequal access to education. When it happens with girls it is worse because it has a double effect. The girls which are not educated are most sooner exposed to child marriage unprepared to raise children themselves being children also. Hence society multiplies the number of individuals without the skills to lead a good life each time a girl child falls through the cracks of an unconcerned society. The researchers concluded that “high level of out of school girls seen in this study has grave implications that are detrimental to the society as a whole and which can affect girls’ lives negatively in all ramifications.
Uneducated girls easily slip into the margins of societies; ending up less healthy, less skilled, with fewer choices, and remain ill-prepared to participate in the political, social and economic development of their communities. As undereducated women, they will remain at higher risk of poverty, maternal mortality, child mortality, HIV/ AIDS, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violence. Improving basic education, especially female education, has a powerful influence on both mortality and fertility. Indeed, the close relationship between education and demographic changes has clearly emerged in a number of recent empirical studies. A wide range of theoretical analyses from different disciplines confirms that education improves health and reduces fertility.”
Women with formal education are much more likely to use reliable family planning methods, delay marriage and childbearing, and have fewer (and healthier) babies than women with no formal education. The effect is particularly pronounced for secondary school. Women with a secondary school education tend to have better knowledge about health care practices, are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age, tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies, and are more likely to seek antenatal care, postnatal care, and skilled attendance at delivery. The effect is profound: for each additional year of schooling provided to young women, fertility declines by 10%. In fact, it has been estimated that one additional year of school for 1,000 women would avert two maternal deaths”.
I have observed that there is almost equal representation of excelling boys and girls in the Lafarge program. It is the evidence we need in concluding that our girls can perform as well as our boys and as it is obvious in this competition also capable of doing better. No child must be left behind because of their sex. Thank you Lafarge for equalizing the opportunity to excel for both boys and girls.
The raison d’être of every government is to persistently raise the standard of living or quality of life of its people. Successful countries are those that have developed and in so doing raised their citizens’ quality of life over the decades of its existence. That is why Singapore for example, is cited often as a model of some sort among countries like ours with which it gained independence in the 1960s. As you know already, whereas Singapore has managed to harness all its governance capabilities to produce an impressive nearly $60,000 annual income par capita for her citizens in 2014, Nigeria’s is some $2300. This is made more stark by the fact that at the beginning of their journey to national development, their income par capital were not that significantly different at just about $300 for Singapore and $100 for Nigeria.
Nigeria’s legendary failure to realise its enormous potentials is associated with a diverse range of factors. However, one key factor fundamental to different schools of explanation is that the failure of leadership and consequent poor governance of Nigeria over the last fifty-five years are reasons for our country’s failure to achieve national greatness despite our potentials. This explains why scrutinising the reasons for how the two countries subsequently diverged and understanding the basis of the huge disparity in their achievements is a matter of strong academic research interest. This is relevant, considering that in the 1960s, the bet was that Nigeria would climb the Development ladder faster than countries like Singapore.
However, besides the well-known attribution of better quality leadership and governance of Singapore to explain the divergent outcomes, at a more micro level, it is actually the deep disparity in attention paid by the two countries to human development capabilities of their citizens that explains much of the monumental gap in progress. Simply put, Singapore did well to have adopted and focused on a Human Development led economic strategy.
So what exactly does a Human Capital Centred Economic Development Strategy mean? Well for me, it is simple. It is one that places the Citizens and their empowered capacities at the Centre of economic policies ensuring that from cradle to career; each citizen is accorded more premium than oil, copper, gold, platinum or diamond. It is a development strategy that recognises that Africa’s greatest constraint to equitable, inclusive, broad-based and shared growth is primarily the low productivity of the African citizens and the poor competitiveness of their countries.
The theory of Human Capital may have its limitations and criticisms but economic evidence throughout history has shown that nations which invested in and empowered their citizens as a matter of deliberate economic policies have performed better than those which approached development differently.
Nigeria does poorly in terms of education and health of the vast majority of its population. But even more problematic is that it is still behind the curve in terms of parity between girls and boys in the school. Parity is key to levelling inequality and developing a female base of the population that is capable of positively influencing better intergenerational outcomes to secure the future. So, until equal numbers of girls and boys are in school, it will be impossible to build the knowledge necessary to eradicate poverty and hunger, combat disease and ensure environmental sustainability. Without all of these, it is impossible to secure the future. For a secure future, It is extremely important that girls have access to an education. For every additional year girls go to school, they receive 20 percent higher wages and suffer 10 percent fewer child deaths.
Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunised, be better informed about their children’s nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished. According to The International Centre for Research on Women, the education that a girl receives is the strongest predictor of the age she will marry and is a critical factor in reducing the prevalence of child marriage. The World Bank estimates that an additional year of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths. Also, each additional year of formal education that a mother completes translates to her children staying in school an additional one-third to one-half of a year. So, not just the girl child but the entire society wins in a nation that empowers her!
Attempting to further scrutinize the divergence in the economic performance of Singapore and Nigeria, I read up on a recent poll by MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement, which studied the socio-economic standing of women using three yardsticks. The metrics it measured were, capability, employment, and leadership. The scores of Singapore compared to its neighboring countries makes so much sense that the former is reaping the benefits of empowering the girl child.
The “capability” component of the MasterCard Poll compared the rates of male and female enrolment in secondary and tertiary institutions. Singapore earned 97.9 points, reflecting near gender parity in education.
The “employment” criterion compared the rates of workforce participation and regular employment among men and women. Singapore was ranked seventh. Although only 74.3 women are in the workforce there for every 100 men, women are more likely than men to be in regular employment, with 109.8 women for every 100 men in a regular job.
“Leadership” measured the ratio of women to men in business ownership and leadership, as well as political participation. Singapore was placed third in this category overall and first among developed Asian markets that also included Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
Now, just try imagining what a similar poll on Nigeria will show considering our already known dismal scores on the empowerment of the girl child. If even the world did not know this, the recent words and actions of the Nigerian Lawmakers on all matters touching on the empowerment of girls and women has earned the country opprobrium in a world increasingly more open to gender equality.
I posit therefore the following key points that everyone of us must remember even after this conference:
1. Nigerians need to dialogue and forge the basic foundational consensus that we all agree that Citizens are the Premium asset of our nation– not oil, not gas, not solid minerals, not agriculture. Where we to ever mobilize our public to demand for a new Social Contract from the governing and larger political elite on the centrality of human dignity of the Nigerian life, it would be impossible for the country to ever again be lackadaisical when any citizen is in harm’s way. A country that values the life of each citizen would not constantly be careless with the loss of any one of them. All through our history, Nigeria has almost become inured to such losses— the massive loss of over a million lives during the Biafra civil war, loss of life in the Niger Delta, in Western Nigeria during its various political upheavals, the middle belt or the North Central killings and now the North East tragedy. In fact, there is more concern shown to the safety of the oil pipelines than shown to the Nigerian life.
2. The corollary to that consensus on the citizen would be the economic philosophy that educated citizenry is the cornerstone of our development strategy and that we would at all times prioritise the necessary Education/Health investments required to produce world-class human capital that can compete with the rest of the world.
3. Nigerians would as part of the consensus; define what each citizen represents for the nation. Regardless of how it is framed, it would be that each of our citizens would be capable of cognitive (mental) affective and motor skills and proficiency needed to be a contributor to the economic, social and political development of Nigeria.
4. Any attempt to equate all citizens to mean “boys and men” while excluding girls and women as inextricable part of the “citizens are premium” development philosophy will continue to cost us the future. We could have already become a great nation without the dismal results we have had we placed the girl child at the heart of our development agenda and process. Were we to have already done so, showing empathy for and upholding the dignity of the human life of our 219 ChibokGirls and other citizens would have been spontaneous among our elite regardless of their political persuasion. But then, because humans lives – not the least that of girls and women – have no effect on the oil rent based competition for political control that consumes our political elite, our girls remain captives of terrorists two years after their abduction to the eternal shame of the two governments so far that have failed to rescue them since April 14, 2014.
In not securing them, we also fail to secure our future.
5. The latest policy of de-radicalisation as a strategy of rebuilding peaceful communities cannot be a successful solution in the long term without being founded on effectively designed large-scale interventions to boost the number of girls in school in the North especially.
What would it take to improve girls’ access to education? According to UNICEF, “experience in scores of countries shows the importance, among other things, of:
- Parental and community involvement — Families and communities must be important partners with schools in developing curriculum and managing children’s education.
- Low-cost and flexible timetables — Basic education should be free or cost very little. Where possible, there should be stipends and scholarships to compensate families for the loss of girls’ household labour. Also, school hours should be flexible so children can help at home and still attend classes.
- Schools close to home, with women teachers — Many parents worry about girls traveling long distances on their own. Many parents also prefer to have daughters taught by women.
- Preparation for school — Girls do best when they receive early childhood care, which enhances their self-esteem and prepares them for school.
- Relevant curricula — Learning materials should be relevant to the girl’s background and be in the local language.”
As our society wrestles to end the insurgency that has cost over ten thousand lives and led to the abduction of many a girl-child that should be in school, the urgent crisis of education in the North must be tackled head-on. If even before the Terrorism scourge, as pointed out by aforementioned data, the girl child in the North was at the margin of human development and invariably economic attainment, imagine how deeper a gap the unsafe conditions for education in that region has created. Since the unresolved tragedy of our 219 schoolgirls of Chibok, it is reported that many more families are refusing to send their daughters to school.
What future then can the communities of the North and others in the South that keep girls away from school then have at a time in the world that individual survival is only possible for those with capacities that can be exchanged in the marketplace? The crisis of the further falling back of the girl child is an emergency that our Federal Government must lead the rest of state and local governments, the private sector and civil society to swiftly tackle. We are in an even worse emergency with a mandatory need to strategically and deliberately rebuild the structure and pattern of inclusion of our girls in the development process.
Nigeria cannot afford to be continuously left behind. At no other time in the history of the world has the discussion of the role of gender equality gained resonance as now. Although many are still trapped in the age-old mythical way of viewing the role of women in society, the trend is more positive in the number of voices that call for inclusive opportunities for both men and women. More people across the world are lining up to uproot the entrenched inequality and the resultant loss to everyone that comes. Women and men, boys and girls are the full composite or every population of a country and each constitutes a human talent that needs maximising for our societies to grow.
Empirical evidence abounds that nations that invest in girls‟ education enhance their economic productivity and growth and so are more likely to be peaceful and secure nations. In fact, the World Bank has stated that there is no investment more effective for achieving development goals than educating girls. The smartest economics that our country can put into play is to ensure equality of opportunities for our boys and our girls by reducing the gender gaps in human capital especially stressing policies that address mortality and education.
Nigeria must become a girl child empowering nation if the trajectory and outcomes of our development process is to deliver the opposite of past and current dismal standards. The World Development Report of the World Bank concluded that “Economic development is not enough to shrink all gender disparities-corrective policies that focus on persisting gender gaps are essential. The report points to four priority areas for policy going forward
First, reducing gender gaps in human capital-specifically those that address female mortality and education. Second, closing gender gaps in access to economic opportunities, earnings, and productivity. Third, shrinking gender differences in voice and agency within society. Fourth, limiting the reproduction of gender inequality across generations.” This fourth point holds the key to all the other points if our nation can act wisely starting from today. After all, today’s girl child is tomorrow’s woman. For every girl child, the future starts today. Empower the girl child, for in her lies Nigeria’s greatness. It is the reason that women like you and I must define the battle line for the protection and education of girls in our societies. In doing so, we must build coalitions with supportive allies among the men at different levels and segments of our countries.
It is the crisis of and vacuum in leadership at every level of governance! It is leadership that is common to all three actions in the framework. In policy making and execution, you need leaders. You need those who will set the vision, assemble those who can think through and identify the problems, propose options of solutions and have the capacity and willingness to choose the best possible option without compromise of the common good, mobilize the range of human, technical and financial resources necessary for execution, lead the execution process until results are generated or failure is made and a review is done to reformat and redo. This leadership for policy process is compromised by hideous politics in most African countries.
For building strong institutions, also need leadership. People get into a false dichotomy between the usefulness of institutions and individuals in nation-building. It ought not to be so. It will take good individuals to lay down the foundation for lasting systems, processes, procedures, structures and also good individuals within ( leaders and subordinates) and without ( citizens and other bodies exercising their Checks and Balances roles) to sustain it. The institutional process cannot be legislated. What Legislation hands you is an agency. It takes work for the transformation to happen and it attains the stature of an Institution. In societies still in infancy in the evolutionary process of institution building, we first need a few good men and women to run lead our law and enforcement processes, our judiciaries, our customs, immigration, audit offices, accountant general’s offices, our PAC, our parliaments, and such other agencies of democratic societies. It is as they lead right and engage citizens in ensuring adherence to their statutory mandates– entrenching probity, accountability, and transparency — that society begins to learn how and what to expect. Over time, these good people set a standard of performance of the systems, processes, and procedures that exemplify HOW the agencies or arms of government should work and citizens then insist that it must work that way regardless of who comes and goes. That is when countries begin to boast of the making of Institutions! You well well see therefore that agencies or departments of government need good people- people who have the training and the attitude necessary to make them work. It will take good individuals to lay down the foundation for lasting systems, processes, procedures, structures and also good individuals within ( leaders and subordinates) and without ( citizens and other bodies exercising their Checks and Balances roles) to sustain it. The institutional process cannot be legislated. What Legislation hands you is an agency. It takes work for the transformation to happen and it attains the stature of an Institution.
For effective and efficient investments we also need leaders. We need leaders who understand that resources are so scarce ( Ghana’s total public budget for solving a myriad of needs is less than one-tenth of New York City budget) and therefore they are committed to ensuring that every cedi spent generates the highest value in results– more children attaining good learning outcomes from our school system for the education budget– fewer women and children needlessly dying from diseases and lack of maternal and children’s health services, value for money in road construction and availability of electricity, etc. Such leaders are not interested in seeing government spending as suddenly their own pathway to ignoble and contemptible riches. They do not reduce the opportunity to serve their people to an opportunity for transactions by awarding contracts to themselves and their cronies. They invest effectively and efficiently in the range of projects that will produce the highest impact on development by reducing the cost of doing business which is what still makes the continent a little less attractive than other parts of the world and hence limits the volume of private investment that should complement Government’s. We need over $ 93 Billion annually to bridge Africa’s infrastructure gap and so leaders in public investment must arise to ensure that we can do much more first with the little we have– increase our value for money ratios significantly. Then second, as signals and data show impress value for money in the governance of our public resources, more private capital will find our continent attractive to flow into and help solve other problems in those sectors that most need them.
The #NewNigeriaOfOurDreams which we will build from 2019 will be measured on five planks of progress. As president, I will not take my eyes away from any of these five specific and measurable planks at any time:
A. Top-high standard of living – driven by productivity, competence plus jobs, jobs and more jobs which we shall measure by real GDP per capita accompanied by the Gini Coefficients to ensure lowest inequality levels. It is a pity that Singapore which got its independence five years after Nigeria now has a real GDP per capita of $60,000, while Nigeria’s GDP per capita as at 2017 was $1,944.
B. Top-high knowledge capital which we shall measure by adult literacy. Today, adult literacy in Singapore is 98%, while adult literacy in Nigeria is just 57%.
C. Top-high longevity which we shall measure by life expectancy at birth. Today, Singapore’s life expectancy is 85 years, Nigeria’s life expectancy is a mere 52 years.
D. Top-high human security which we shall measure by the Global Fragility Index. Today, we are the 13th most fragile country in the world. This is beyond unacceptable.
E. Top-high equality of rights and opportunities which we shall measure by the Universal Human Rights Index and the Freedom in the World Index. Today, we maintain a dismal aggregate score of 50/100 in the latter report.
As a country that continues nearly sixty years of oil production and export to be the bad example of poverty in the midst of revenue from natural resources endowment, a change of direction is urgent. That is why for me, a new and disruptive thinking is imperative. Those two urgent problems of low productivity and competitiveness are reasons we have failed to emerge into a prosperous, stable and cohesive nation of people. To disrupt these problems, we must build and in perpetuity grow a large stock world-class human capital. For me and anyone who cares to see our country catch up and overtake those ahead of us in the Development race, Human Capital must become our New Oil and Education must become the basis of our New Economy. The children we have listened to today here at the El Amin School are evidence of the fact that should we get Education and Human Capital to become the epicenter of our National Vision, Nigeria- nay Africa- shall without fail stake a claim and lead the 21st Century! I cannot wait!!