Abuja - The Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to invest in human resource development.
Osotimehin gave the advice while fielding questions in Abuja on the sidelines of Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
He said that adequate investment on health, education and nutrition can yield $500 billion annually as demographic dividends.
"We must not be pushed to think that there are population crisis in Nigeria or Africa," he said.
The UNFPA boss urged the new administration to work with the useful population and reap dividends of its investments.
Osotimehin said government can get maximum benefit from the population by providing quality education, health nutrition and access to credit for young people.
"In alleviating poverty, education is the first that has to happen; an educated person is a creative person, and also innovative person.
"When you don’t have education and information you are not likely to be able to move ahead to do the next thing.
"Second is the health, so a healthy population and educated population will make the difference.
"The third and closely related to it is nutrition, people have to eat well and if you don’t eat well and a hungry person is not likely to be creative.
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"If you put the three together, we will make a difference," said the UNFPA chief executive.
According to him, if you invest in the population you will get dividends more than what you can ever think.
"We reckon that if you do it and do it well first you will have more people working, we have more savings and we will grow the economy.
"And in Africa, given the fact that the structures are the same around Africa, we can have $500 billion yearly generated from that which is larger than what we have today.
"What we have today in all the central banks around Africa is $600 billion.
"So if you add $500 billion annually and you add it for 30 years you are growing the economy substantially," he said.
However, he said this was not something that happens overnight, it must be a policy of government.
"It happened in Thailand, Korea and Brazil. We need to push the government to invest in the young people’s welfare, education, health, nutrition and access to credit.
"These would enable them to participate into the governance and the development of their nation," Osotimehin said.