LATEST figures from the United Nation’s Human Development Report has put Nigeria’s life expectancy at birth at 48.4 years, a little rise from the 47.7 years recorded for the country last year.
The 2010 report, which was unveiled in Abuja yesterday, put Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) at 0.423, which ranked the country 142 out of 169 countries with comparable data. Nigeria did not make the very high Human Development rank, neither did it make the High Human Development rating. It was not also ranked among the countries that made it to the Medium Human Development strata.
Also, Nigeria found itself in the lowest ranking nations in the Low Human Development category, escaping from the bottom of the human development index by 27 positions.
The HDI of sub-Saharan Africa as a region increased from 0.293 in 1980 to 0.389 this year, placing Nigeria above the regional average. The HDI trends tell an important story both at the national and regional level and highlight the very large gaps in well-being and life chances that continue to divide our interconnected world.
Nigeria’s expenditure on public health was put at 1.7 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while under-five mortality stood at 186 out of every 1,000 live births.
Each year, since 1990, the Human Development Report has published the HDI, which was introduced as an alternative to conventional measures of national development, such as level of income and the rate of economic growth.
The HDI represents a push for a broader definition of well-being and provides a composite measure of three basic dimensions of human development: Health, education and income.
This year’s report celebrates the contributions of the human development approach, which the UN says, is as relevant as ever to making sense of a changing world, and finding ways to improve people’s well-being.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Abuja, UN Permanent Representative and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Daouda Toure, stressed that the UN, in collaboration with the National Planning Commission (NPC), the National Universities Commission (NUC), and vice chancellors and academic directors of Nigerian universities, was supporting a process of mainstreaming human development studies in the Nigerian universities curricula.
He added: “We hope to help increase the knowledge base that is critical to bringing out the human development approach, HDI and associated indices, and to make the indices part of the measurements put in place by national authorities. We also look forward to the time when human development expertise availability will contribute to anchoring the democratic competition on substantive issues benefiting the human development.
“Our aim is to make the human development debate more owned by the citizens of the country. Mainstreaming human development studies in the curricula of universities will contribute to Nigeria’s ability to reinforce the ownership of its development approach. In addition, exposing students to the human development approach will be invariably building the momentum for human development focused governance in future.”
He urged the academia to take up the challenge of advancing good governance, issue-based political competition, informed by data and statistics, free and fair elections to get the real choice of the people in the realm of affairs, “which are what will get this country where it wants to be, and indeed deserve to be, among the 20 biggest economies of the world by the year 2020.That is why our programme of support is focusing on those priority areas.”
In his speech at the ceremony, the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, expressed joy that the UNDP was supporting Nigeria to mainstream the human development reports into the curriculum of Nigerian universities.
He added: “The government fully acknowledges the relevance of the human development report to Nigeria’s development. We are, therefore, fully committed to mainstreaming the outcomes of the 2010 report and subsequent editions of the report into the national development agenda for the transformation of our economy.
We will also work with the UNDP to ensure that both the private sector and sub-national governments in Nigeria take full advantage of the report.”