© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Health budget: Buhari spends only N5 per citizen per day, says Peter Obi
VICE presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, says Nigeria’s current health budget translates to N5 per citizen daily.
Obi, speaking during the debate for five vice presidential candidates in the 2019 general election on Friday, said it was the high point of inefficiency for a government to vote such low amount to health while paying trillions in petroleum subsidy.
“There’s no way a country can have a budget of N34o billion for health, which translates to N5 a day for its citizens, and then pay a trillion for subsidy,” Obi said.
He was arguing against the continued payment of petroleum subsidy by the Buhari administration despite telling Nigerians that subsidy had been removed and that the federal government was saving billions every month as a result.
Continuing, Obi who is the immediate past Governor of Anambra State, said: “There’s no way you can have an education budget, which is the most critical component of a development, at four hundred and something billion, and you are paying a subsidy of a trillion. It is a waste.
“We need to reverse it because you are not dealing with the engine that will drive your economy tomorrow.”
The N340.45 billion that was voted for the health sector in the 2018 budget represents 3.9 per cent of the total budget sum, and it is lower than the 4.1 per cent allocated to the sector in 2017.
Out of that amount, N269.34 billion was voted for recurrent expenditure, while only N71.11 billion will be used on capital expenditure.
This is in spite of the numerous health challenges that have bedevilled the health sector, including the outbreak of numerous disease across the country, such as cholera, meningitis, monkeypox, Lassa fever, and more recently, Yellow fever.
Also, young Nigerian medical doctors have continued to leave the country in their numbers, to the UK, USA, Canada, etc, in search of better working conditions.
The development is a far cry from the Abuja Declaration signed by African leaders, including Nigeria’s, at an AU meeting in Abuja in 2001, where they pledged to devote at least 15 per cent of their countries’ annual budget to the health sector.
Also, the federal government have continued to go against the National Health Act, signed into law in December 2014 by then President Goodluck Jonathan, which provides that one per cent of the consolidated revenue fund of the federal government should be set aside to finance health initiatives in the country.
Whether the Buhari-administration will comply with the above provision in the 2019 budget, is yet to be seen. The budget will be presented to the National assembly on Wednesday, December 19, 2018.