The World Bank on Thursday said it would have to accept some responsibility for the advice it gave Nigeria on investing more on infrastructure rather on societal needs, especially on health and education.
Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank President, made the remark at the ongoing International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
Speaking to journalists after the launch of the 2018 Human Capital Index, in which ranked Nigeria 152nd out of 157 countries, Kim said the World Bank had taken the “wrong approach” while advising Nigeria and other African countries on sectors they should invest in over 20 years ago.
He lamented about the state of Nigeria’s education and health sectors, describing it as “very poor.”
Kim said, “We provide quite a bit of support for Nigeria in terms of health budget. But we feel that the overall spending on health is just far too low, 0.76 per cent of GDP.
“Also, the educational outcomes in Nigeria are very very poor.
“Nigeria is one of the most important countries not only in Africa, but in the world and so we feel that it will be extremely important for Nigeria to really go on a different level altogether in terms of their commitment to investing in human capital.
“I think that the World Bank has to take some responsibility for having emphasised hard on infrastructure, roads, rails, energy for a very long time and I think that changed 20 years ago.
“But there is still then the bias that says we will invest in hard infrastructure and then when we grow rich, we will have enough money to invest in health and education.
“We are now saying that that’s really the wrong approach, that you’ve got to start investing in your people right now.’’
Kim, however, said Nigeria and other African countries do also have a share in the failure of the continent to improve its standard of living and alleviate poverty.
According to him, African countries do not largely invest in human capital except international institutions like the World Bank provide grants allocated for such specific needs.
“The message here is that Heads of State and Ministers of Finance have to take responsibility.
“What has happened is in many African countries, if they don’t receive grant-based financing, they just simply don’t spend on health and education.
“So we hope that this is a loud wake-up call for leaders throughout the African continent and especially in Nigeria”, he said.
Kim revealed that the World Bank had increased funding for Nigeria and other African countries since 2015.