By Christian ABURIME

Government of Anambra State, recently hosted and led discussions on human capital development in the South East region and Nigeria.

The South East conference is in line with the National Executive Council’s strive for strategy for accelerating human capital development in Nigeria with the theme ‘healthy, educated and productive Nigerians for a globally competitive nation by 2030’

The two-day conference, dubbed, “Changing the Narrative- Towards Entrenching Human Capital Development in South East” was held in Awka to drive home the point.

Declaring the ‘day two’ session open, Anambra State Deputy Governor who is also the Chairman of the state Human Capital Development Council, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim stated that the region is already making gradual progress, stressing that Anambra is the rallying point of human capital development in the region.

“Before we started, the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo came with a clear cut vision and mission. Coincidentally, he was the chairman of Anambra State vision 2070 Committee. He merged the committee’s report with his manifesto to produce development models for the state”.

The Deputy Governor noted that the present administration of Governor Soludo is founded on five social development pillars, one of which is human capital development, pointing out that Anambra State does not work in isolation and expressed optimsm that the desired goal will be achieved.

Leading the policy session, The Coordinator, Core Working Group (CWG) on Human Capital Development, Ms Yosolaoluwa Akinbi, challenged the region to think of 2030, revealing that the productivity of an average Nigerian is less than 36 percent. She tasked all regions to work together to bring up those who are not doing well.

She stated that Human Capital Development sits across multiple levels of stakeholders, pointing out that everybody has a role to play to ensure healthy, educative and productive Nigerians by 2030, but quickly added that the process cannot be driven from the federal level if effectiveness is the goal.

The South East regional consultant of HCD, Prof Kate Azuka Omenugha had in a presentation at the technical session assessed the region’s Human Capital Development benchmarking the progress across eleven milestones which include, among others, HCD mainstreaming into annual budget and state development plan, setting up HCD implementation monitoring team, developing state action plan, engagement of stakeholders and selecting HCD intervention among others. States were charged to ensure the attainment of the milestones in order to accelerate human capital development in the region

Group presentations and recommendations were made where advocacies were centered on free secondary school education, zero tolerance to examination malpractice, improved quality assurance, mandatory healthcare financing to have people whose life expectancy will be increased, human resources for health, provision of emergency funds domiciled in the ministry, regulation of traditional medical practice, ensuring adequate data collection, monitoring and evaluation, creation of ministry of Labour in all the states, formulation of good environmental laws, increased gender parity, among others.

The Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi represented by Dr. Sam Ogbu-Nwodobo, MD/CEO, Enugu State Investment Authority, congratulated the state for leading the discussions. He expressed gratitude that they were carried along in the platform which ended up producing commendable recommendations that will significantly improve the human capital in the region.

“Let’s continue to stand together”, he added.

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma represented by his Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Prince Ford Ozumba lauded the initiative, saying that they are already doing a lot in Imo State including training of about fifteen thousand youths on ICT with a view to raising a digital tribe of problem solvers.

In his response, Governor Soludo praised the team and participants for the recommendations. He however pointed out that most of the recommendations were government- centric. He advised that the team should look deeper beyond some of their recommendations.

The Governor spoke further on how to deepen the areas where they have excelled and upscale where necessary, saying that human capital is South East’s only dependable resource, just as he noted that the conference is pivotal and at the heart of the identity of the region.

He also emphasized the concept of community involvement, which he identified as very strong, saying that more than ninety-nine percent of the resources needed to develop the region is in private hands.

He asked the vital questions of putting up effective delivery mechanism, such as Public, Private, Community Partnership, PPCP, which is already being mainstreamed in Anambra, as well as the creation of appropriate benchmarks and case studies beyond the shores of Nigeria, among others.

The Governor extensively dealt with labour force participation and movement, proposing that Labour force should move across the federation without boundaries or discrimination but on merit and competence.

“As a nation, we can’t be dealing with labour force in silos. The artificial borders will not take us anywhere”, Governor Soludo concluded.

The Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Chiamaka Nnake who is the focal person appreciated everyone’s input to the project, saying that it is a platform of extending the regional integration of the South East.

Participants at the event include delegates from the states in the south east, development partners including the former vice president of ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma and currently chief executiveq officer Africa Human Capital Development Plus Ltd, the Secretary to the State Government of AnambraState, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi, former Chief of Staff and Commissioner in Ogun State, Mr. Samuel Kayode, members of Anambra State Executive Council, NGOs, Civil Society, Organized Private Sectors among others.

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