As Concerned Citizens of Nigeria, our attention has been drawn to a recent publication in some national dailies of Wednesday, August 3, 2022, by an unidentified publisher calling for memoranda to be submitted to the Health Reform Committee, headed by His Excellency, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON.
As laudable as the terms of reference may seem, it is our considered view that the call for memoranda for the development and implementation of a new Health Sector Reform Programme for the country is coming too late at the tail end of the current administration. For an important reform of a sector that is on the concurrent legislative list requiring the input and endorsement of the three tiers of government, Local Governments and State Governments Legislative Arms of Government, as well as the National Assembly, will be counter-productive, and unwise for the following reasons:
i. To successfully develop a proper reform programme for the entire Health Sector, the Committee would need at least a period of twenty-four (24) months (all recommendations have to pass through the three tiers of Government for review and approval), whereas the current administration only has about eight (8) months left in power.
ii. The call for Memoranda from the general public, coming twelve (12) months after inauguration of the Committee and in the twilight of the current administration, is suspect. If it took one year after inauguration for the proponent to call for Memoranda, the pertinent question to ask is, how many years will it take to conclude the assignment before submission of the Final Report?
iii. The so-called Diagnostic Report developed by the reform proponent is neither a public document nor within the public domain for proper interrogation by relevant stakeholders at the Local Governments, State Governments, and National level i.e. before the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
iv. We are concerned that at no point in time was it made public or could we find from the official website of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), any information that the proponents were issued a Certificate of No Objection for the award of contract to develop a Healthcare Policy for the Federal Ministry of Health. A situation where health sector reform is being championed by a commercially interested health sector player without the requisite BPP certification can only but lead to the undermining of health institutions set up by law to drive the objectives of the health sector of Nigeria.
v. The call for Memoranda for such an important Reform Programme for the entire Health Sector of Nigeria should have contained an exhaustive list of all stakeholders in the Health Sector.
vi. The Health Sector Reform Programme is being hurriedly packaged by a few individuals who are utilising their close relationship with the Office of the Vice President to promote a selfish agenda for the Health Sector and undermine the efforts of Government to improve the health sector by attraction of much needed Foreign Direct Investments through Public Private Partnerships.
vii. Unknown to the Vice President, the reform proponents are using their close relationship with the Office of the Vice President and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to perpetrate a selfish agenda, thereby undermining all other healthcare programmes and projects, to the detriment of established institutions of Government, who are genuinely mandated and saddled with the onerous responsibility of driving the healthcare mandate of the Federal Government of Nigeria as contained in the existing Current National Health Act which is adequate and only requires full implementation.
viii. The hasty effort aimed at drafting a new Health Sector Reform Programme is ill-conceived and aimed at benefitting those whose objective is to on the long run, be awarded the Contract for implementation of the Reform Programme.
ix. The call for Memoranda is an effort by whosoever is behind same, aimed at undermining the National Health Agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who is globally acclaimed for due process, transparency, accountability and good governance.
x. Rather than commence a fresh Health Sector Reform Programme ab initio, previous Health Sector Reform Reports should be retrieved from the archives and put together as a working document, to consolidate existing projects aimed at improving healthcare delivery and diagnostic programmes currently being implemented at various levels of the Health Sector.
The call for Memoranda is an effort to attract patronage from innocent unsuspecting Governments at the three tiers of Government, and from the relevant MDAs; and is couched in a language that suggests sinister motives, as the Committee is solely invited to peruse the Diagnostic Report of the reform proponent.
xi. In the light of the current fiscal challenges being faced by the Federal Government, deploying scarce resources for executing the activities of the Committee will further deplete the already depleted National Treasury.
We, the Concerned Patriotic Citizens of Nigeria hereby state that the call for Memoranda is in bad faith; meant to mislead the general public, and is intended to fritter away scarce Government resources, and World Bank Support and Loans in consultancy payments to the proponent.
In view of the imminent end of the current administration with enormous burden to conduct National Census and the forthcoming General Elections in the next six months, any effort aimed at reforming the Health Sector of the Country within the same period should be left to the incoming Government in 2023, as time for conclusion of the assignment within the life of the current administration is definitely insufficient and impossible.
Mr. President who is known for his commitment to strict adherence to due process, transparency, accountability and good governance is respectfully invited to halt further activities of the Health Sector Reform Committee and to interrogate/investigate the underlying objectives of the Reform Proponent, which seems suspect, and particularly geared towards undermining the developmental strides of Public and Private Sector Players at various levels of the Health Sector as ongoing projects in the Health Sector may be required to be put in abeyance until the conclusion of the Committee’s work which will be difficult to achieve during the present administration.
• Olukoya is member of Concerned Patriotic Citizens of Nigeria (CPCN), Western House, 8/10 Broad Street, Lagos Island, Lagos State. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org