Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has condemned Nigeria’s low budget for health care in the country.
Obi made this known on Monday at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, while highlighting his plans for Nigeria if elected as the president.
He argued that at N3.5 trillion, the 2023 health budget is low, just like that of education.
Obi’s position: according to Obi, in the past 5 years from 2015 to 2021, Nigeria’s budget health has been under N2.5 trillion for 200 million people.
He added that even in the recent budget, this year’s budget for health is about N1.5 trillion while the budget for education is about N2 trillion, making a combined annual budget of about N3.5 trillion for both sectors considered very important.
“In the past 5 years, from 2015 to 2021, Nigeria’s budget in health has been under N2.5 trillion for 200 million people. It is unacceptable. Even this year, our budget for health is about N1.5 trillion, budget for education is about N2 trillion. Two of them combined annual budget is about N3.5 trillion when your six-month budget for subsidy – which is criminalized – is N3.6 trillion, it is unacceptable.”
He added that there is a need to keep money in key development areas as what separates rich and poor countries is health and education.
Speaking on how to achieve this, Obi said he would borrow a leaf from countries whose health policies have worked for them. He said:
“In terms of how to cover it, nations of the world have covered it. How did India with 1.4 billion people cover the issue of health? How did Indonesia cover that? We have big nations that have done it well. If we don’t know how to do it, we will learn from them. There is nothing wrong with learning if you don’t know how to do it.”
On legislation: speaking on how to deal with legislators considering that the Labour party hasn’t been in control of the legislative arm, he stated that doing things the right way would enable progression.He said:
“Quite frankly, I have been through this as a governor. When I was elected and sworn in as a governor, I had 30 house members, not from my party. In fact, nobody from my party was involved. As long as you are pursuing what is right, everybody will go with you because the legislature is secured in its place.
“It becomes a problem when you are pursuing transactional policies which will benefit you or you are engaging in nepotism. But if you address it by seeking from the constitution which spells out that the system is characterized simply and that we have diversity and all is included, you did the right thing. You don’t need to worry about that.”