Ex-Minister Urges Politicians To Invest In Education, Health, Not Flyovers For Showoff


A former Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, has urged politicians to invest in human capital development such as education and healthcare as much as they build roads, hospitals, and bridges.

Adewole, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, was a guest on Inside Sources with Laolu Akande, a socio-political programme aired on Channels Television on Friday.

The former minister lamented that there has been “undue emphasis on infrastructure” without commensurate human capital development. He said politicians build flyovers for exhibitionism because they want to have something to show to the people at the end of their tenure.

According to the scholar, that is not what is needed to develop Nigeria. Investment in infrastructure must not be at the expense of investment in education and efficient healthcare delivery, he said.

“The concept of investing in infrastructure is a critical strategy. The politicians who plan for four years, or eight years, do so because they want to show something off.

“A political leader will rather invest in flyovers than invest in education and health. They want to build new schools, new universities that have no teachers, and new facilities called hospitals without human resources (doctors and nurses), without drugs, without laboratories.

“We just want people to say during my tenure, I put that up, I constructed 200km of roads, I built a flyover from Kano to Kaduna. That’s what politicians want to show off but that is not what we need to develop our country.

“I am not saying we should not invest in infrastructure but let us be balanced,” he said, clarifying that good infrastructure such as roads and flyovers is pivotal to trade facilitation and economic growth.

Adewole, who was Nigeria’s health minister during the first term of the then administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, posited that investment in education eliminates some health challenges such as maternal mortality.

He said, “When you invest in agriculture, the return is either zero, minus, or at best $1 to $3 but when you invest $1 in immunisation, you can reap between $18 and $44. When you invest $1 in anti-tuberculosis-control programmes, you can reap as much as $70. When you invest in education, for God’s sake, you are eliminating so many things.

“I was looking at the maternal mortality rates a few days ago with a colleague and we realised that when you are educated, at least secondary school education, the maternal mortality, that is the number of women who die in pregnancy, labour, and thereafter, is at least 10 times lower than those who are not educated.

“When you educate the people, you invest in human capital development [and] this his multi-dimensional poverty we are talking about will disappear.”

He said as a minister, his greatest frustration was how to get state governors to invest in efficient healthcare delivery.

“Even in some states, what they do is to set up teaching hospitals and compete with the federal, which to me is a waste of resources,” the former minister said.

He said state governments do not need to compete with the Federal Government but go to the district level and establish functional hospitals with efficient and well-motivated workers.

Adewole, who urged governors to allow the local council areas to function as an independent tier of government, backed the persistent call for restructuring.

“I am an apostle of fiscal and physical federalism,” he said, adding that though it was late for a return to regionalism, states should be allowed to grow on their own in the areas of power generation just like Abia State.

Channels TV

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