Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said lack of resources is not responsible for Nigeria’s relative under-development, and blamed lack of vision by leaders instead for the sorry state of poor governance.
Speaking in Owerri as Chairman at the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors Progressive Governance Lecture Series, the former Vice President said Nigeria has the resources, but needed “leadership, vision and determination to make things work.”
In his speech, which dwelt extensively on health, Atiku Abubakar said the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Nigeria has brought to the fore Nigeria’s emergency management response strategies.
According to him, the arrival of the fatal disease calls for urgent need for adequate investments in healthcare, infrastructure and service delivery across the country.
Addressing the inconsistency between Nigeria’s resources and its performance, Atiku Abubakar said the statistics are disturbing and that the outbreak of Ebola had only exposed the underbelly of our healthcare system.
Despite Nigeria’s vast resources and human capital, he regretted that the doctor-to-patient ratio in Nigeria is 1 to 6,400 which is far below the WHO standard of 1 to 600.
He also lamented that at 50% access to improved water source and 35% adequate sanitation for Nigerians, the country is among the lowest in the world.
On infant and maternal mortality rate of 74 and 630 respectively, the former Vice President said the figures put Nigeria among the worst.
According to him, health is not a privilege, but a right which “every citizen in a modern society is entitled to.”
He explained that security and healthcare are critical areas posing urgent and grave challenges to Nigeria.
He said emphasis on healthcare education is no less important, and that it is embarrassing that in the 21st century Nigerians would be resorting to crude solution of “soaking ourselves in salty water to fight the virulent Ebola virus.”
The former Vice President also lamented the fact that “highly qualified and experienced medical professionals who were trained at public expense but chose to practice abroad.”
Atiku said there should be creative solutions to deal with this situation of investing heavily in healthcare professionals who end up serving abroad.
He explained that in a federal system, states should introduce policies that would attract doctors to serve their needs.
The Turaki Adamawa said “there is no justification for workers everywhere in the country to earn the same salaries.”