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FG budgets N2,000 for the Healthcare of each citizen in 2020

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The federal government has deemed it fit that N2,000 would be enough in the year 2020 to provide for the healthcare of each of the estimated 200 million Nigerian. This is according to the meagre N427.3 billion proposed for Healthcare in the proposed 2020 national budget.

You may not understand what this means, it means the salaries of all health workers in the Ministry of Health, the fuelling of the ambulances and the generating plants, the rehabilitation and or construction of new hospitals, the drugs for Malaria, Polio, Child Vaccination, Tuberculosis, Meningitis, HIV/AIDS and of course cancer diagnosis machines are all part of the budgeted amount. The list continues to even health research, training and health promotion.

About three weeks ago, key stakeholders in the health sectors gathered at an event declared open by the representative of the Vice President to discuss the crisis of universal health coverage in the country.

At the event organised by PREMIUM TIMES, Chiedo Nwankwo, a health and gender expert, stressed that Nigeria had failed to properly fund the health sector using the country’s failure to meet the 15 per cent benchmark agreed upon in the Abuja Declaration of 2001.

Likewise, there was a recent warningby members of the House of Representatives about a possible Ebola outbreak in Nigeria due to the porousness of Nigeria’s borders and its proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country currently battling the deadly disease. Previous years’ allocation for the health sector has barely catered to the immediate health needs of Nigerians, talk-less the health structures and facilities to manage and handle a potential national crisis like an Ebola outbreak.

Some of Nigeria’s health indices provide context to how dire the situation is in the country. According to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria is “the country where nearly 20 per cent of all global maternal deaths happen. Between 2005 and 2015, it is estimated that over 600,000 maternal deaths and no less than 900,000 maternal near-miss cases occurred in the country”. Overall, the maternal mortality rate is approximately 800 per 1000 live births and 58000 maternal deaths in 2015.

Also, only 61per cent of pregnant women have access to antenatal services, according to theHealthCare for Women International and Relief Web while Trading Economics puts birth attended by skilled health staff by. 2014 at 35 per cent.

The picture looks grimmer when UNICEF says that 4.3 Million Children still miss out of immunizations every year and Trading Economics puts the neonatal mortality rate at 34.7 per 1000 live births in 2015. Also, Nigeria Malaria Factsheet estimates that there are over 300,000 malaria deaths per year with 100 million cases. This is besides the fact that Malaria contributes to an 11 per cent mortality rate in Nigeria.

Furthermore, reported cases of Meningococcal disease by WHO as of March 2017 is a total of 1407 with 211 cases resulting in deaths, although theNigeria Center for Disease Control puts the number of reported cases at 914.

Global Polio Eradication Initiative puts reported cases of poliomyelitis in Nigeria at 13 in 2019 and 34 in the year 2018.

A close look at the health budget proposed for 2020 and the trend analysis of government investment since 2010 by DATAPHYTE showed continued lack of commitment to prioritise health funding or adequately provide for universal health coverage of Nigerians.

When the 2020 proposed health budget is compared with that of the approved 2019 budget; there is a marginal increase in the overall budget, from N424.03 billion in 2019 to N427.30 billion in 2020. This is 0.77 per cent increase in the budgeted expenditure. This reflects an increased recurrent expenditure by 6.53 per cent, from N315.72 billion in 2019 to N336.32 billion in 2020. However, the Capital Expenditure dropped by 18.58 per cent from N57.09 billion in 2019 to N46.48 billion in 2020) while the Basic Health Care Fund dropped by -13.12 per cent (N51.22 billion in 2019 to N44.50 billion in 2020).

Another instance which shows that the priority of this administration is shifting away from healthcare is the fact that out of the three key development sectors (Security, Education, Health) of the country, health sectors got the lowest appropriation in the 2020 national budget. The health ministry had a meagre budget of N427.30 billion which is only 4.14 per cent of the proposed budget for 2020, while the Ministry of Education has 653.94 billion which represents 6.32 per cent of the total national budget. On the other hand, security and humanitarian affairs combined has N1.985 trillion which represents 19.23 per cent of the national budget.

The latter comprises of Ministry of Defence – N878.46 billion (8.5 per cent), Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development – N444.22 billion (4.30 per cent), Ministry of Police Affairs – N409.14 billion (3.96 per cent) and the Ministry of Interior – N254.81 billion (2.47 per cent).

The latter comprises of Ministry of Defence – N878.46 billion (8.5 per cent), Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development – N444.22 billion (4.30 per cent), Ministry of Police Affairs – N409.14 billion (3.96 per cent) and the Ministry of Interior – N254.81 billion (2.47 per cent).

Another clear indication of the administration’s low commitment to the healthcare of its citizens is the proposed allocation for the Basic Health Care Fund (BHCF) in the 2020 budget. A check on the budget item for BHCF in the health budget indicates N44.50 billion is proposed. This does not reflect the expected 1 per cent stipulated in the National Health Act (2014).

The National Health Act (2014) states that “at least 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) shall be allocated to Basic Health Care Fund (BHCF)”. Based on the 2020 Appropriation Bill, the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) is N10.33 trillion, which means that the one per cent allocation to BHCF should be N103.3 billion and not N44.50 billion.

Also, it is unclear how the allocation to BHCF was derived especially considering the allocation to another development fund. The Universal Basic Education (UBE) fund which by legislation should have two per cent of the CRF just like the BHCF was also significantly reduced with a proposed allocation of N111.79 billion. However, if any consideration is given the revenue constraint of government to explain why N111.79 billion is proposed for UBE, then BHCF, therefore, should at least be allocated half that of the UBE – which is N55.89 billion. However, the allocation to BHCF is less than this amount by over ten billion naira.

In the same manner, though the Consolidated Revenue Fund has been on the increase, and forms the basis for allocating funds to the Basic Health Care Fund (BHCF), this has not reflected in the actual funds allocated to BHCF. The BHCF has been on a downward progression since the first allocation in 2018. For instance, in 2018, N55.15 billion was allocation but in 2019, about N51.22 billion was earmarked and the lowest in 2020 with 44.498 billion.

The trend analysis of budget allocation to the respective components of the Budget has revealed that though the total health budget continues to rise as well as the recurrent expenditure, the capital expenditure fluctuates and has been on a gradual decline for the last 2 years. While the capital budget increased from 28.65 billion naira in 2016 to 55.61 billion in 2017 and 86.49 billion naira in 2018; but nosedived to 57.09 billion in 2019 and has further been reduced in the proposed budget to 46.48 billion naira against 2020.

This declining capital budget allocation is despite the continuously rising recurrent budget for the same period. As shown in the chart above and the table below, the recurrent health budget increased from 221.41 billion naira in 2016 to 252.85 billion in 2017 and 269.97 billion nairas in 2018. In 2019, the recurrent still rose to 315.62 billion in 2019 and has further been increased in the proposed budget to 336.32 billion naira against 2020.

Thus, even as the total health budget seems to be increasing annually, say from N250.06 billion in 2016 to the proposed 427.3 billion in 2020; it is clear the increase goes to the recurrent budget at a detriment to the capital allocation that sees to infrastructural investment in health.

It is highly recommended that the federal government prioritize health as a key sector and a vital component of investing in Human Capital Development with great potential to turn the fortune of the nation around. This can be realised with an upward review of the health budget by the legislative arm even as the 2020 national budget goes through the appropriation process. This is necessitated by the country’s low-performance when measured against the Abuja Declaration benchmark.

More importantly, the government must make the increases reflect in the Capital Expenditure component and follow through with the timely release of the budgeted allocation. This is necessary to achieve prompt delivery of healthcare promises to the people, to ensure the full utilization of released funds and to avoid an eventual return of funds to the Treasury.

It is necessary to work with the National Office of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as a major component of the Global Goal is “Good Health & Wellbeing”. Therefore, there must be synergy between the SDGs Office and the Federal Ministry of Health. Closely related is the need for the government to demonstrate its commitment to The Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) by allocating funds to achieve the health component of the Plan.

In conclusion, the government must not relent in its plan to revamp and or construct the 10,000 Primary Healthcare Centres across the Nation, by this being reflected in the budget to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

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National News

Court dismisses rape suit against COZA Pastor, Fatoyinbo…fines Bisola Dakolo N1m

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An Abuja High Court sitting in Bwari, Thursday dismissed the rape case instituted by a socialite Mrs Busola Dakolo, against the Senior Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA, Biodun Fatoyinbo.

The court in its judgment absolved Pastor Fatoyinbo from the alleged rape on the ground that the case of the plaintiff is purely sentimental and empty.

Justice Othman Musa while dismissing the rape suit awarded a cost of N1,000,000 against Busola Dakolo to be paid to the Pastor.

Busola, wife of popular artist Timi Dakolo had accused Pastor Fatoyinbo of raping her while she was a teenager.

She approached the court to demand for justice and compensation.

Precisely, Busola Dakolo accused Pastor Fatoyibi of raping her in the year 2002.

On his part, the COZA Senior Pastor filed an objection to the suit and supported it with an affidavit claiming that Busola’s statements were false and concocted to embarrass, scandalise and ridicule him.

He said in the affidavit that from the inception, the plaintiff sought the attention of the media and press and brought the civil action even while the Police investigation was ongoing.

Accorsing to him, her false claims were stale and an abuse of judicial process.

After parties argued their briefs, Justice Musa held that the matter amounts to an abuse of judicial process.

He further held that the case is purely sentimental and empty, having no concrete facts known to law and legs to stand upon.

Justice Musa awarded costs of N1,000,000 against Busola Dakolo and held that it would have been 10 times more but resisted it because there are women with legitimate claims who may approach the court for justice.

According to the court, the case carries more of cruelty in it than justice.

Before the judgment was delivered,
Fatoyinbo had described the suit as frivolous and statute barred.

Fatoyinbo, through his lawyer, Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, in a preliminary objection dated 20th September, 2019, said the reliefs sought by Busola in the suit are not grantable, which makes the suit incompetent.

According to the objection filed at a high court of the federal capital territory, Dr. Izinyon said the court
lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit adding that the suit is frivolous and a palpable abuse of court process

In an affidavit deposed to by
Ademola Adetuberu, Executive Senior Assitant to Pastor Fatoyinbo, he said the substratum of the claimant’s suit is the mere purported allegation of emotional and psychological distress as a result of the said purported mere allegation of rape against the Defendant.

He further said in the affidavit that the said purported mere allegation of rape is still a subject of investigation by the Police.

Deponent said in the affidavit, ”That a suit of this nature is statute barred after a period of three years. The reliefs claimed by the Claimant in the suit clearly fall within the limitation law”.

Busola had last month approached the court to seek redress in the allegation made against pastor Fatoyinbo.

In the substantive matter, Mrs Dakolo, through her lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesiis sought the order of the court to compel Fatoyinbo to publish a clearly worded apology to her on the front page of at least two (2) National Newspapers and two National Televisions for seven days running consecutively.

Plaintiff had two months ago made a shocking revelation in a detailed interview with Chude Jideonwo, a lawyer and journalist, of how the Abuja-based cleric allegedly raped her as a teenager.

She claimed that Fatoyinbo had sexual intercourse with her on September 23 and September 26, 2002, caused her continuous emotional distress and amount to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Sowore: DSS denies opening fire on protesters

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The Department of State Services (DSS), Wednesday denied the allegation making the rounds that its operatives opened fire on protesters who had stormed its facility November 12.

However, DSS also said it was a normal global security practice for its operatives to stand in defence of their facility when some group of persons made unruly attempts to forcefully break into the place and effect the release of Omoloye SOWORE.

DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya said this in a statement in Abuja.

Part of the statement reads, “Despite serial and unwarranted provocations, the Service, as a professional and responsible Organisation, did not shoot at the so called protesters. It could not have done so.

“For emphasis, the Service reiterates its avowed readiness to release SOWORE once the processes are concluded. It maintains that the appropriate persons have still not turned up to take delivery of SOWORE.

“While all those that have so far shown up are not directly concerned with the matter and therefore unqualified, many others have either chosen to grandstand or politicise it to achieve hidden interests.

“In the last few days, the Service has continued to witness deliberate campaigns of calumny, threats and aspersions against it. It will not, for any reason, join issues with its mudslingers. The media is called upon to be neutral and remain champions of the truth.

“It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for SOWORE present themselves and have him released to them. It is even more disappointing that Femi FALANA, who is a senior lawyer, would wrongly guide his client and supporters. He is rather playing to the gallery and mobilizing miscreants to subvert the Service and other state authorities.

“He has excellent relationship with the DGSS. But in the circumstance, he has refused to reach out to him over the case like he had on previously related ones.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Service restates its commitment to the rule of law and particularly respect to the Court. It, therefore, calls for calm but states that it will not be intimidated or harassed into hasty actions.

“It reassures the public that it will not waste a second to release SOWORE if the proper processes are followed. And FALANA, sure, knows what these are”.

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National News

Rivers Assembly okays MTEF 2020 to 2022

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The Rivers State House of Assembly has adopted the Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2020 to 2022 sent by Governor Nyesom Wike to the House.

This followed a debate on the documents presented during Tuesday plenary.

Governor Wike in a letter addressed to the House urged the lawmakers to consider the MTEF for adoption.

The MTEF contains the fiscal revenue projection, as well as the expenditure profiles and parameters which the 2020 budget is anchored on.

In the same vein, the Rivers State House of Assembly has given first reading to Rivers State contributory health protection program bill sent to the house by governor Wike for consideration and passage into Law.

The bill proposes to establish a, “Contributory Health Protection Program to ensure that residents of the state have access to effective, quality and affordable healthcare services, pursuant to the promises by the state government to improve the health and living conditions of residents of the state”.

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