Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unveiling Asset Declaration in Nigeria

In order to promote the culture of transparency, accountability and integrity of public officials, a legal requirement makes it mandatory for them to declare their assets. Paragraph 11 of Part one of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution says: “(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter - (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.” This anti-corruption principle has been more of a paper tiger. How?

Apart from the fact that some public officials do not bother to declare their assets as specified in the code of conduct for public officers, those who comply sometimes make false declarations. It is alleged that some of the political office holders make anticipatory declarations i.e. they make higher and bigger claims than their true worth in anticipation of what they intend to illegally acquire while in office. While some indulge in anticipatory declarations; few others under-estimate their true worth. Here, properties or assets owned by a public officer are said to belong to his or her cronies or family members. Anticipatory declarations are often made on assumption of office while under-estimation sometimes takes place after the expiration of the terms of office. It noteworthy that it is not only public officers that make bogus claims of their assets, many others in informal and private sector do under-declare their incomes and assets in order to evade tax or reduce considerably their tax liabilities.

The code of conduct for public officers in paragraph 3 of the earlier refrenced Fifth Schedule forbids some categories of political office holders from operating a foreign bank account. According to the section: “The President, Vice -President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, members of the National Assembly and of the Houses of Assembly of the States, and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.” This section has also been observed more in breach. While some operate these external accounts in violation of the rule, others play smart by using a reliable ally or family members to operate them on their behalf.

Perhaps the dodgiest thing on the issue of asset declaration in Nigeria is the fact that such written declarations are not for public consumption as the statement forms are treated as classified documents under the Official Secrets Act. There is thus no way of independently verifying the contents of these declarations. Although the law establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (Chapter 56 Laws of Federation, Nigeria 1990) empowers them to authenticate the claims made in the asset declaration forms, it is doubtful if the verification exercise are ever done and if they did, the report of such are never made public. In the opinion of the discerning masses, the secret declaration vitiates the purpose meant to be served by the disclosure principle. It is believed that the public’s right to know ought to be guaranteed in conformity with the recently ratified Freedom of Information Act.

It is noteworthy that some political office holders, of their own accord, have made public their asset declaration forms (ADF). First to do this was the late former president of Nigeria, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who on June 28, 2007 made public the content of his ADF which stood at N856 million. Vice President (now president) Goodluck Jonathan followed suit in August 2007 when he declared a total asset of N295, 304,420 public. Others who have voluntarily made their assets public include former Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State who made an open declaration of N4.47 billion assets in July 2007.

In December 2010, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State made a public declaration of cash and asset worth N750 million while the latest VIP (Very Important Person) to do such was Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State who on July 3, 2011 made public a declaration of N292, 432,107 cash and N2.2billion assets. These are exemplary conduct but what Nigerians want is not a discretionary open declaration but a mandatory one. The challenge for the populace is to carry out an independent investigation to ascertain the authenticity of the claims of those who have made their assets public. However, I sincerely doubt if individuals or Non-Governmental Organisations have the technical capacity and financial muscle to embark on such enterprise.

This effectively put the ball in the court of Code of Conduct Bureau whom, it is hoped will see to effective prosecution of those who fail to comply with relevant laws guiding asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. These two anti-corruption agencies need to be strengthened financially, legally and administratively to perform their constitutional duties while amendment of the relevant laws is also needful to make the content of asset declaration forms open to public scrutiny.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Overcoming Nigeria’s disaster management challenges

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is faced with serious disaster management challenges. Frequently, the nation witnesses one disaster or the other. On Sunday, July 10, 2011 there was flash flood occasioned by a torrential rain that fell for about 15 hours in Lagos causing massive damage to lives and property; there have been recurrent collapse of buildings in many of our major cities with Lagos topping the list, that too has led to avoidable deaths of hundreds of people as well as huge economic loss. From the Nigeria Fire Service comes the report that no fewer than 990 lives were lost in 7,129 fire incidents in the country in 2010 just as property worth over N53m were destroyed during the same period.

The Federal Road Safety Commission road crash data for 2010 shows that 2,441 people lost their lives to accidents on Nigerian roads between January and August 2010. Previous years were worse. FRSC record shows that 4,120 persons lost their lives while 20,975 others were seriously injured in fatal accidents that involved 11,031 vehicles across the nation in 2009. In 2008, there were 11, 341 documented accidents with the total number of deaths put at 6,661 and 27,980 injured. The Corps Marshal of FRSC, Osita Chidoka was reported to have estimated that Nigeria currently loses three billion naira every year to road accidents.

Those are routine mishaps. How prepared are we for catastrophes like earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, mudslide, and wildfire? God forbid, we are wont to saying. But what if it happens? With the frequent change in climatic condition due to global warming occasioned by ozone layer depletion, is there any calamity we can put beyond Nigeria? Have we an evacuation plan in the event of any large-scale natural disaster? There are several agencies established to manage and control disasters in Nigeria.

The prominent ones among them include: National Emergency Management Agency established via Act 12 as amended by Act 50 of 1999; Federal Road Safety Commission established in 1988, as the lead agency in Nigeria on road safety administration and management. FRSC tasks include: Making the highways safe for motorists and other road users; recommending works and devices designed to eliminate or minimise accidents on the highways and advising the federal and state governments, including the Federal Capital Territory Administration and relevant governmental agencies, on the localities where such works and devices are required, and educating motorists and members of the public on the importance of discipline on the highways.

The Nigeria Fire Service is 110 years old, having commenced operations in 1906 under the Lagos Police Fire Department. Unfortunately, of all the disaster management agencies, it is the least equipped and staffed to play its vital role. According to the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, Mr. Olusegun Okebiorun while speaking at a media forum in Abuja in 2010, out of the 5,000 fire service stations needed in the country to effectively fight fire outbreaks; Nigeria currently has 269 of such stations nationwide. He categorised fire stations into three: the metropolitan, the municipal, the market style or the fire post. He said, “If we are to have fire stations in this country, we should have nothing less than 5,000.

“The least capital city of any state requires no fewer than five fire stations, with some requiring 10 and others, 20; while Lagos needs up to 50. Kaduna, which has just a fire station, required at least 10.” The FSS boss said the cost of establishing a metropolitan fire service station ranged between N700m and N800m, while the municipal station, which is of a lower grade, could cost N500m. The fire post or the market fire station would cost about N200m because it required only a fire engine and a water tanker.

According to a news item in The Punch of Wednesday, June 8, 2011 titled “In Abuja, Fire Stations are junkyards” it was revealed that “The FFS has seven stations across the FCT, but none of them has more than one functional fire engine while the headquarters itself has just two fire trucks in service. The common feature of these stations is the dead fire engines littering their premises. The functional trucks dispense about 1,500 gallons of water, which does not last beyond five minutes. Equipment like air breathing apparatus; fire resistant garment; fire rate lock; fire blanket; telescopic fire warden sign; megaphones; first aid kit as well as modern fire trucks and helicopters were in short supply, if available at all. Compared to other fire stations across the world, the FFS is an infant at play. The New York Fire Department responds to more than 260,000 fire and non-fire related emergencies and more than one million emergencies each year including medical emergencies, disasters and terrorist acts. It maintains 250 fire houses and ambulance stations. This is not surprising as the department has a budget of $39.14bn just for its capital projects for 2010-2013. On the other hand, the FFS got N405m for its 2011 capital projects and N2.3bn as total allocation for the year.”

Other challenges faced by the Nigeria Fire Service stations both at the federal and state levels are absence of water hydrants at street corners; lack of fire lane reserved for fire appliances; most of the major high-rise structure do not have adequate fire escape; and, non-enforcement of fire prevention laws at filling stations. It was also revealed that the last time the FFS recruited was in 2001, ten years ago. There is also the issue of inadequate welfare and incentives for fire-fighters. It is gladdening that the Federal Fire Service has deemed it fit to launch a standard guideline to regulate the operations of stakeholders in the fire sub-sector.

All Nigeria’s disaster management agencies need to network and synergise for effective coordination of their activities. Adequate funding and planning is also non-negotiable for them if we want to halt the frequent losses currently being incurred perennially to disasters. Law enforcement is equally important. For instance, those contractors responsible for collapsed buildings need to be arrested and prosecuted, same for those building on waterways or those blocking drainages. Government has responsibility to prevent disaster by doing the needful on time. Why wait till a building collapse when such could have been pulled down once a structural defect is noticed? The populace on their part must be law abiding and should pay adequate attention to safety regulations. A stitch in time saves nine.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Needless Fuss Over Minimum Wage

The current ruckus between the state governors and the Nigeria Labour Congress as well as Trade Union Congress over the payment of the N18,000 minimum wage to workers is needless, but not entirely unexpected. The governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have kicked against the payment of the new minimum wage which they say will ‘deplete’ their treasuries. They have argued that acceding to the workers’ demand will render them incapacitated to carry out any capital project. The governors gave two preconditions if they will meet the workers’ request: Review of the current revenue allocation formula in favour of the states and the removal of subsidy on petroleum products. On the part of the labour unions, they have served notice of a three-day nationwide warning strike to force the implementation of the minimum wage by the state governments.

It is however important to understand how the issue of the national minimum wage came about. Nigeria joined the league of International Labour Organisation member countries in 1981. ILO handles workers’ welfare. The last time a minimum wage was set before the current one was in 2000 with effect from May 1, 2001. Then, the wage was set at a paltry N5,500. It has taken 10 years to have this benchmark reviewed through a collective bargaining mechanism. Information gleaned from the website of the Nigeria Labour Congress has it that the union made a demand for wage increase in 2009 after a thorough study of the salaries of political office holders’ pre and post-consolidation, as well as a careful examination of the minimum annual wage levels in African countries. The study shows that the Nigerian worker is among the least remunerated in the world. In the NLC estimated cost of meeting basic needs for a representative family done in February 2009, a sum total of N58,500 was arrived at. NLC however decided to demand a new national minimum wage of N52,200 which the union considered approximate least Minimum Annual Wage Levels in African Countries, the minimum cost of providing basic needs for the worker and his/her immediate family.

In order to negotiate this request from NLC and TUC, the Federal Government set up a tripartite committee made up of representatives from the government, labour and the organised private sector. On the part of the government were four cabinet ministers, three state governors and a representative of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission. Labour drew its representatives from the NLC and TUC, while representatives of the organised private sector included the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture .The committee was chaired by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore (retd.).

Information has it that this committee met for over one year, negotiating with different stakeholders. It was reliably gathered that all the 36 state governors as well as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum were formally written to, to make input into the negotiation. While some of the governors were said to have recommended a minimum wage of about N20,000 and above, the committee decided to propose N18,000 in order to make it easy for all concerned employers of labour to implement. It was also proposed that the new wage would apply to only organisations with a minimum of 50 workers in its employment. It was after this agreement that the proposal was drafted into a bill and presented to the National Assembly. This bill was passed and signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on March 23, 2011.

Given this background information, should there be any controversy about implementation of the National Minimum Wage Act 2010? Needless, you would say. But by virtue of the fact that those who endorsed it are politicians, it is then not totally unexpected that they are now playing politics with the Act. No matter the amount of intrigues and double-speak by the federal, state or local government executives, the N18,000 national minimum wage must be paid. It is a law backed by the Act of Parliament and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Governors that are new in the saddle must realise that government is a continuum and when they get elected into office, they inherit both the assets and liabilities of the state.

Moreover, what is the worth of N18, 000 in today’s Nigeria, given the cost of living, the inflationary trend and the dependency ratio of an average worker? Due to the monetisation policy of the Federal Government, my understanding is that this N18, 000 is the total monthly emolument of the concerned workers without any other allowances, be it housing, health or transport. The paltry sum is also taxable for the personal income tax. It is worth noting that this national minimum wage is more beneficial to the workers on the lower rung of ladder particularly Grade Levels 01 – 06 as a sliding scale is applied to the wage structure across board.

Considering the fact that our political office holders are paid large sums of money as salaries and allowances, it is very heart-rending that the pittance that is due to public servants is being denied them. One of the creative ways the governors can mobilise resources to pay this wage increase is to slash their security votes by two-thirds as well as reduce the allowances of the political office holders in the states. Other ways include tackling the monster of corruption in their various states; reduction in the number of aides to persons in executive positions; diversification of the revenue base of the government (this will lead to significant increase in the internally generated revenue of the government); enhancing the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive (this will bring about foreign direct investment which will reduce the spate of unemployment and lessen the dependency ratio of workers). I agree with the governors on the need for better fiscal federalism.

I say yes to the call for the review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the state and local governments. Some of the items on the Exclusive Legislative list in the Second Schedule of the Constitution also need not be there. There is absolutely no justification for Item 34 on the list which deals with labour and industrial matters including fixing of minimum wages. States ought to be allowed to determine the remuneration of their employees on the basis of capability. However, that is in the long term as it will need legislation.

Performance-based governance is needful. Wages should be earned, based on productivity and should not be mere bonus. As for the labour unions that are poised to go on strike, they should reconsider this approach as the economy can ill-afford the dislocation and destabilisation this will engender. A better option is for the unions to sue the concerned government, be it federal, state or local to the National Industrial Court which is a court of superior record to adjudicate on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tackling Nigeria’s Food Security Challenge

Farming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a cornfield –Dwight David Eisenhower 34th US President.

Agriculture used to be the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy. That was before the discovery of the black gold (crude oil) at Oloibiri in 1956 or thereabout. With petro-dollars rolling in, we sidetracked our first love, agriculture. In the 21st century, many of the Nigeria’s farming population still practice subsistence cultivation. Yes, a few mechanised farms dotted the landscape but majorly the country is being fed by small-holding farmers. Quite sadly, the rank of the few persons still practising agriculture in Nigeria is fast depleting. In time past, we have government policies aimed at encouraging people to embrace agriculture. In the First Republic, I know for a fact that the government of Western Region established what is called Farm Settlements where those interested in farming are allocated farmlands and given loans to practise agriculture. Thereafter, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo launched ‘Operation Feed the Nation’. In the Second Republic, former President Shehu Shagari, also launched ‘Green Revolution’ with pomp and pageantry. Today, the tide has changed.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was as worried as I am about the substantial decrease in the ranks of Nigeria’s farming population. Speaking during the inauguration of the ‘Feed Africa Committee’ of the Centre for Human Security in Ibadan on July 2, 2011, he observed that “Farmers have not been treated well in Nigeria. The problem now is how to build a successor generation of farmers. This is a great challenge now in Nigeria. If you go to my village, the youngest farmer is a little younger than me. How then can we ensure that the youths get into agriculture?” The elder statesman expressed concern that human security would be threatened if there is no abundance of food for the teeming African population, a move, he said can only be sustained when youths pick interest in agriculture.

Advancing solutions to the nagging problem, the former president rightly observed thus: “We must make farming profitable by making incentives available to interested youths. Incentives must be made in the areas of land being made available to the interested youths and graduates of agriculture. They must have access to loans and have specialised training on the kind of crops to grow. After these have been provided, they must be sure that there is a market for their produce.” To underscore one of the problems highlighted by the erstwhile president, a research finding titled “Household Savings and Credit Policy Brief: General Household Survey-Post Planting Round 2010” conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics has shown that about 98.8 percent of household farmers in Nigeria do not have access to credit facilities.

Also expressing concern about the poor state of agriculture, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, on July 5, 2011 said Nigerians are spending a princely sum of N630bn annually on the importation of agricultural products. He made the disclosure in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at the stakeholders’ conference on the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending. Sanusi lamented that, despite the 45 per cent contribution of the agricultural sector to the Gross Domestic Product, it was getting a meagre four percent of the Federal Government’s total annual budgets since 2006. “This is contrary to the 2003 African Union Maputo Declaration that directed member countries to increase investment in the agricultural sector to at least 10 percent of the national budget by 2008.”

“Furthermore, private investment in the agricultural value chain is at a low ebb owing to perceived risks, distortions and uncertainties, such that, Nigerian agriculture is today one of the most underfunded in the world. The challenges highlighted have resulted into Nigeria losing the leading position it occupied in the 1960s in the exportation of key crops such as cocoa, groundnut, cotton, rubber and palm produce.” The CBN governor submitted that in the last decade, Nigeria accounted for over 60 percent, 30 percent and 15 percent of global palm oil, groundnut and cocoa exports respectively. “Today, the reverse is the case as Nigeria’s agricultural import bill stands at N630bn annually. Large food products imports include wheat (N165bn), fish (N105bn), rice (N75bn), and sugar (N60bn). In the interest of our dear nation, this trend must he halted” intoned the apex bank governor.

I do hope the concerned authorities are listening to what these statesmen are saying. A country that cannot feed its inhabitants cannot lay claim to being a sovereign nation. Food security is sine qua non to physical and human security. It is a requisite for national development. Our boastful claim to being the giant of Africa is hollow until we are able to attain self sufficiency in food production for local consumption and export. One key factor that has precipitated most of the world’s rebellions is hunger and soaring cost of food items. There are sayings that ‘a hungry man is an angry man’ and that ‘the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ According to Macridis, “Food and energy are the lifeblood of a nation.” It is therefore high time we stopped paying lip-service to the agricultural sector. We must induce our teeming population of unemployed youths to embrace agriculture. The way to go about it has been marshalled by ex- President Obasanjo and Mallam Sanusi.
Additionally, basic infrastructures like good roads, hospitals, ICT solutions, pipe borne water should be provided in rural communities so that our young farmers can still be in touch with civilisation, even while farming. We must take the threat of climate change serious as flooding, drought and desertification are potent danger to farming. Farmers too must learn to embrace insurance schemes to mitigate their loses in case of unenvisaged catastrophe.

The agricultural revolution kick-started by the Living Faith Church through the church founder, Bishop David Oyedepo is exemplary and commendable. The Winners Chapel as the church is better known had in March 2011 established its second university called Landmark University. The vision of the institution is to spearhead an agrarian revolution through teaching, research and entrepreneurial drive. According to Dr. Oyedepo: “The incontrovertible contribution of agriculture to the industrial revolution in the United States of America for example, was the ever-increasing need for more and better farm machinery. In the era just before the insurgence of automobiles, many of the largest manufacturers in America were partially or totally dedicated to producing farm machinery. With the automotive age came the first tractors with internal combustion engines - possibly the biggest single revolution that ever took place in farming. But it was farming that supplied the need for that generational technological revolution. This is our strategic vision path for Landmark University.’’

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fixing Nigeria’s Ailing Health Sector

I shudder at the staggering number of preventable deaths in Nigeria. A country that God has graciously spared the horrors of holocaust, tsunami, earthquake, volcano, mudslide and other similar natural disasters ought to do something urgent to reverse the soaring number of avoidable deaths being recorded annually in the country. Reduction of child mortality, improved maternal health, and eradication of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases are three of the eight millennium development goals meant for attainment by 2015. Four and a half years to the target date, our scorecard remains dreadful. Save the Children, an international non-profit group revealed that almost 800,000 Nigerian children die every year before their fifth birthday, making Nigeria the country with the highest number of new born deaths in Africa. The group released the figures at a Save the Children Special Campaign (STC) launched in Lagos on December 14, 2010.

In a paper titled Maternal and Child Health in Nigeria, Professor Friday Okonofua said “An estimated 500,000 women die each year throughout the world from complications of pregnancy and childbirth; 55,000 of these deaths occur in Nigeria. Nigeria is only two percent of the world’s population but accounts for over 10% of the world’s maternal deaths in childbirth and ranks second globally (to India) in number of maternal deaths. Risk of a woman dying from child birth is 1 in 18 in Nigeria, compared to 1 in 61 for all developing countries, and 1 in 29,800 for Sweden. For every woman who dies from childbirth in Nigeria, another 30 women suffer long term chronic ill-health. The UNFPA estimates that 2 million women suffer vesico-vaginal fistula globally, 40% of these (800,000 women) are in Nigeria.” 2010 UNGASS report said 2,980,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. After South Africa, Nigeria has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

A January 2011 report by World Care Council revealed that “Nigeria has the highest TB (Tuberculosis) burden in Africa and is 4th among the 22 countries with high TB burden globally. It has an estimated TB prevalence of 521/100,000 (772,000) and estimated Mortality rate of 93/100,000 (138,000). The estimated prevalence of MDR-TB among new TB cases is 1.8% and 9.4% among previously treated TB with a prevalence of HIV in adult TB patients (15-49yrs) 27%.” Still, Nigeria is one of the four countries in the world, and the only one in Africa, where polio is still endemic. The others are India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. On June 28, 2011 during the commemoration of the World Sanitation Day, Dr Suomi Sakai, UNICEF's Country Representative said "It is estimated that about 33 million Nigerians defecate in the open, depositing about 1.7m tonnes of faeces into the environment annually. The development had resulted in a high level of contamination of the environment in which garbage and faeces often find their way into water resources.”

Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the Minister of Health has his job cut out for him. Health being a concurrent issue in Nigeria’s federal structure, the honourable minister needs to redouble his efforts and set about building synergy vertically among the three tiers of government, that is, the federal, state and local governments, particularly their ministries and department of health. Horizontally, he needs to do same among the many agencies and departments under his ministry. We have long been hearing of health for all by certain date, yet in 2011 access to quality and affordable health remains abysmally low. Most alarming is the high rate of mis-diagnosis of patients by health practitioners. I lost a junior colleague on June 6, 2011 to wrong prognosis by two leading public hospitals in Abuja when they could not detect a cancerous breast. By the time the right diagnosis was done at a private hospital, it was too late, the lady died.

Similar stories abound. There have been instances of someone with malaria being diagnosed and treated for typhoid fever, or someone with minor stress being treated for hypertension. A legal luminary who died not too long ago was alleged to have been diagnosed of bronchial infection when he actually had lung cancer, the truth was not known until he went abroad for confirmatory test. This recurring wrong prognosis calls to question the competence of our health technicians, radiographers and laboratory scientists.

Many Nigerian public hospitals be it primary health centres (PHC), General Hospitals or Teaching Hospitals are grossly underfunded and concomitantly, ill-equipped and understaffed. This partly account for high level of brain-drain being experienced in the sector as many well trained medical personnel have left the shores of Nigeria for greener pastures abroad. An estimated 25,000 Nigerian doctors practice medicine in United States of America alone. Thousands of others are to be found in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Those yet to emigrate are perennially embarking on industrial action to press home for better working condition. Many of them engage in private practice alongside their government job in order to augment their income.
Due to high cost of access to quality healthcare in Nigeria, many of the masses particularly in rural and sub-urban areas prefer herbal and prayer homes to hospitals. Though Nigeria’s National Health Insurance Scheme was established in 1999 to regulate and administer social health insurance in Nigeria. The scheme currently covers approximately 4.5 million people - about three percent of the country’s population. Even the quality of service rendered under the scheme has been a subject of controversy. Noteworthy is the threat posed by quacks to Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system. Due to the poor coverage of rural areas by orthodox and qualified health practitioners, a lot of charlatans now run clinics, hospitals, maternity homes and convalescing centres in many of our communities. They carry out surgery they were not trained for and administer fake and expired drugs on their patients. The menace of cloned and adulterated drug is still very potent many years after the establishment of NAFDAC.

The way out of this quagmire is simple. There is need for increased funding for Nigeria’s health sector. However, government alone cannot sufficiently fund the huge sector. The support of donor agencies and their non-governmental organisation counterparts is appreciated. However, our organised private sector must chip in their token as well. This they can do either through establishment and maintenance of public hospitals or by setting up a Trust Fund. Religious institutions should also come out to support government in ensuring quality health care delivery to Nigerians. The pace-setting efforts of the Catholic, Baptist and ECWA churches in setting up public hospitals as part of their missionary work is exemplary and worth emulating. Preventive measures also need to be scaled up to ensure that people voluntarily or forcefully embrace hygiene and sanitation. Our local governments need to bring back Sanitary Inspectors while adequate public enlightenment is needful. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, health is wealth and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.