NEC seeks 1% donation to health from private sector

Cyril Okonkwo

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The recommendation emerged from the Special and Expanded NEC meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and attended by the Chief Executive of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates and the Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote.

At news briefing Dangote told State House Correspondents that the suggestion became necessary following the poor human development index caused by poor investments in education and public health by the tiers of government.

He said: “One of the things that we are suggesting is also to make sure that we fund our health sector is to see that the private sector should try and be giving one per cent of their annual profit so that it will actually help in generating quite a lot of money.

“Because since the re-basing of the economy we are going to get out of most of these donor or donations that we are getting from the World Bank and the rest of the donors making Nigeria a rich and not a poor country.

“So I think we also have to do our own bit to make sure that we have a very vibrant population.

“Nigeria will be almost sort of number three by 2050 in the world’s population.

“So we have to actually make sure that we have a very healthy society.’’

Bill Gates also said: “We have had a chance today to talk to the National Economic Council (NEC) about the opportunity to invest in future growth.

“And so we had a discussion about the status of the health system, the progress that has been made and the need to increase both the level of investment and some of the system’s quality to really have the human capital to drive growth in Nigeria.

“So it was a great discussion; most of the governors were there; the Vice President was there and Mr Dangote and I both got a chance to speak to the group and I think it was a good discussion.

“And then it was followed by very important review meeting on polio and the things we still need to do in the next several years to ensure that Nigeria and all of Africa stays polio-free.’’

The Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, also said that meeting focused on how to invest in human development to secure the country’s future knowing that in 2050 Nigeria could become the third largest population in the world.

He said that the issue of education  and health care delivery as well as their quality were deliberated on extensively.

He said that the forum appreciated Bill Gates Foundation for the effort it had made in polio eradication in the country.

Umahi added that the NEC appealed to the National Assembly to amend the law to enable the states to access the UBEC funds.

He noted that the 50:50 contribution required between the states and federal was very challenging to the states’ quest to provide other contending issues like security, women and youth empowerment, infrastructure decay and other development strides of the various state governors.

The governor stated that the development partners and the two foundations at the meeting outlined the issues such as security, women empowerment and measures by which the Nigerian state could meet the predicted population explosion in 2050.

The Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai, added that the meeting was unique because the NEC’s previous meetings focused on the hard economic issues of providing infrastructure such as roads, electricity, transportation which Nigerians often asked for.

“What Bill Gates and Dangote reminded us today is that there is something far more important than physical infrastructure, and that is investing in our people.

“Nigeria is going to have 411 million people by 2050; today more than half of the population is very young and unless we try to invest in the future by educating them and ensure that they are healthy we face a demographic disaster,’’ he said.

El-Rufai noted that although a lot of investments had gone into education the level in the country was below averages in Africa.

He said that the governors were committed to scale up what Gates and Dangote were doing in the country’s healthcare systems.

Suzan O.