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Edo hosts South-South Human Capacity Development Conference

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The conference ended with a road trip to the State Civil Service Secretariat to create awareness around human capital development.

By Grace Oakhiena

In a bid to assess the impact of human capital development in the South-South region of Nigeria to come up with new and improved policies that would help to fill the gaps in the development process, the National Human Capital Development Programme held a two-day regional conference on Human Capital Development (HCD) tagged ‘Accelerating HCD in the South-South of Nigeria.’, hosted by the Edo State Government.

The conference, which was held at the New Festival Hall, Government House, Benin City from 17th to 18th of January, 2023, was attended by the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; Edo State Head of Service, Mr. Anthony Okungbowa; representatives of the Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Delta governments in the health, nutrition, education, and labour force participation sectors, and development partners including the World Bank, GIZ, and others.

While speaking at the conference, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, emphasised that such events are aimed at improving the zone and raising the level of human capital development among states in the region. “This session is about collaborating and improving our zone. It is not a competition.” he said.

He went on to admonish representatives from the South-South states to adopt best practices from different states in areas where they have not done so well. “It’s about learning from each other’s best practices, what we have not done as well as what we are expected to do.

“We are in politics because of our people. We cannot develop without developing the capacity of our people to produce.

“If our people are not helping, they cannot be economic agents. They will not be able to contribute their quota to the state. They will not be able to pay taxes. So, we will not develop. So, it’s about people.” Obaseki argued.

In driving sustainable economic growth, the Federal Government recognises the critical role of human capital development, and this has informed the deliberate steps towards the launch of the National Human Capital Development Programme in 2018 by the National Economic Council. The programme was designed to address poverty while ensuring participatory and sustainable economic growth as well as increasing investment in the Nigeria people, thereby improving human capital development indices.

Relaying the gains made in the three thematic areas in Edo State, the Head of Service, Mr. Anthony Okungbowa Esq. noted Edo has reached most of its targets in health care service delivery, education, and labour force participation, highlighting that teachers were being trained and retrained on the use of ICT, thereby enhancing learning for teachers and students.

According to him, in the health and nutrition sectors, the Edo Health Insurance Scheme (EdoHIS) has since commenced full operation, thereby making health care services accessible to over 30,000 people in Edo State. He said over 200,000 people have been employed by the State Government to improve manpower needs and strengthen the health sector, while over 250,000 were trained in the public and private sectors to improve work capacity.

Okungbowa pointed out the revolutionary milestones recorded in the Edo workforce under the Obaseki administration including the increase in minimum wage, as Edo State is the only state in the South-South paying N40,000 as minimum wage, the setting up of job centres for quick matching of jobs, timely payment of pensions, and many more.

During the conference, the Statistician General of the Federation, Prince Adeyemi Adeniran, who was represented by Mr. Adeyeye Elutade, elaborated on the components of human capital development and highlighted current statistics showing the level of human capital development in the South-South region, based on key indicators such as mortality rate, nutrition, school completion, and others, stressing that the statistics showed that the performance of the region needed to be improved upon. He urged governments to curb infant mortality and monitor school children more effectively.

The development partners, Core Working Group (CWG) representatives, Commissioners, and others who spoke at the conference assured of their willingness to support the HCD in the South-South region.

There were breakout sessions among representatives in the three thematic areas, where participants critically analysed issues raised during the presentations and panel sessions, and came up with proposed policy recommendations to curb the problems. These recommendations were shared with all the participants on the second day of the conference.

Some of the recommended policies included the domestication and operationalization of sustainable funding pathways and leveraging of the existing workforce by training school teachers on the use of monitoring tools for the assessment of stunting among children of school age.

The conference ended with a road trip to the State Civil Service Secretariat to create awareness around human capital development.

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