Microsoft co-founder and foremost philanthropist Bill Gates has spoken on possible steps to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
It is estimated that about 82.9 million Nigerians live below the poverty line, earning Nigeria the unenviable tag of “poverty capital of the world”.
In an interview with The Cable, the billionaire businessman was asked what steps Nigeria can take to lift its citizens out of poverty, he identified improved primary healthcare, quality education, higher taxes amongst others as means to reduce the poverty rate in Nigeria.
He said: “There are many aspects of poverty reduction. The most immediate is health; you know, if kids are surviving, they are able to be educated and be more productive, if you’re getting rid of malnutrition, both physical and mental capacity of the country is greatly increased.
I’d still put primary healthcare at the top; then you have the quality of education, the quality of infrastructure, things like stability, and the court systems working well.
Mr Gates continued, “Nigerians don’t trust that their tax money is well spent and so it is important to build credibility so that over time, the tax collection can be much higher. Nigeria has about the lowest domestic tax collection of any country in the world, so it is very tough to fund infrastructure and education.
You have to overcome that sense of if the taxes were collected, will they actually go to the right thing? One area that you can really show that very clearly is by having the health supplies there, having the health workers show up, be clear what those health goals are, then people will very quickly see lives saved.
Our deepest expertise is in this health area because that is just a critical area that still lags behind, particularly in the north even behind countries that are substantially less wealthy”.