Successive governments in the country have paid lip service to the imperative need for human development as a sure cure for many social and life threatening challenges facing the nation.
Leaders from the lowest rung of government to the apex at the federal level seem to understand what the problems are with Nigeria but only a few are willing to address them using time tested approach that have helped elsewhere.
For instance, unemployment has been identified as one of the biggest cause of insecurity in the country. Successive governments have pretended to address this challenge with little or no results.
Even though the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has instituted official policy to address the challenge with its Social Investment Program (SIP), the effects have yet to manifest considering the realities on ground.
Experts have been able to find a nexus between the triangle of illiteracy, poverty and insecurity and have argued vehemently that the government must have to invest in human capital development to avert an impending doom.
Each time nabbed kidnappers, Internet fraudsters and others engaged in nefarious activities are interviewed by the Police, the preponderant reasons for their action have always been around unemployment.
But several captains of industry have consistently argued that most of the Nigerian youths blaming unemployment for sliding into criminality are unemployable. They therefore urged the government to invest into their capacities for them to catch-up by acquiring modern skills.
It is perhaps with the realization of this that the President recently called on all stakeholders to prioritize education for all children of school age in the country.
Buhari, at the inauguration of the new National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by his Vice,Yemi Osinbajo had reminded the governors that providing free and compulsory education is a constitutional provision.
He said “Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
‘‘Section 2 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
‘‘It is indeed a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period. In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime.
‘‘This is, therefore, a call to action. I would like to see every Governor rise from this meeting and rally his local Government Chairmen towards ensuring that our schools offer the right opportunities and provide the needed materials and teachers for basic education, at the minimum. If we are able to do this, the benefits will surely manifest themselves.”
The President told the them that successes in the four key areas of education, security, health and agriculture would go a long in lifting Nigerians out poverty, and securing the future for sustainable growth and development.
This is a real charge by the Buhari administration in its quest for national investment into human capital.
Demonstrating knowledge of the real issues at the heart of insecurity in the country, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno, identified employment creation, reduction of poverty, halting the culture of impunity and provision of affordable education as real panaceas for the challenge of insecurity in the country.
Stressing the need for investment in human capital through education, Monguno told members at the last NEC the “we have a lot of children roaming around without any formal education. And as the president has mentioned earlier which he was inaugurating the National Economic Council, we need to make education compulsory and free for every child in the country because the problem we face today are rooted in the fact that a lot of people who have been denied the opportunity, basically the opportunity to get formal education end up over the years, there is accumulation of large mass of human beings who end up becoming criminals, drug addicts and so on and so forth. And they end up becoming tools to be used by elements in the wider society who have very dangerous intentions.
And therefore, it is very important to proscribe certain groups ultimately running around under the guise of maybe getting some kind of education that is not really formal and then begin to cause a lot of problems for society.”
But, a cursory look at the quantum of government investments into education at all levels leaves much more to be desired. Though the government’s school feeding program attempts to provide an encourage to school age children roaming the streets to return to school, many more are still on the streets.
A dispassionate look at the budgetary allocations to education, especially at the federal level falls short of the international benchmark for a developing country like Nigeria.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s Education For All (EFA) 2000-2015 Achievement and Challenges Report recommended 15-20 percent allocation to the education sector in developing countries. Far back in 2006, the High Level Group on EFA proposed that governments should spend between 4-6 percent of Gross National Product (GNP) on education.
Conversely, successive governments’ investment in Nigeria hovers between 6-7.5 percent of their annual budgets. Specifically, the federal government in its 2019 budget of N8.92 trillion allocated a miserable N620.5 billion to education. This represents about 7.05 percent of the total budget when UNESCO is recommending at least 15 percent. This is coming when other African countries, Ghana specifically, have been spending about 20 percent of their annual budget on education in the last ten years!
Considering the foregoing, one is tempted to conclude that the scourge of insecurity plaguing the country was self inflicted. It possibly came as a result of the refusal of past administration to invest in human capacity development. It therefore behoves on the present administration which has correctly diagnosed the ailment of insecurity to, as a matter of urgency, increase funding of the educational sector with a view to enhancing its investments in human capital development for peace to return into the country.