Retired military personnel and their families will now benefit from the NHIS.
By Talatu Usman
After a protracted debate, the Federal Government has finally approved the inclusion of retired military personnel and their families in the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
This has laid to rest the seeming discrimination against the retired military persons in the scheme, initiated by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The approval was given, Wednesday, at the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, with Vice President Namadi Sambo and most ministers in attendance. A presidential committee’s report on the issue was discussed.
Briefing newsmen on the new development, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, alongside the Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, said the scheme will kick off with 75 thousand military retirees, and that the sum of N3.6 billion has been earmarked for it.
Ms. Obada said the money will take care of the retirees, whose biometric data have been captured during a revaluation exercise for pension purposes earlier in the year.
“We hope that this action will further motivate our men and women in uniforms and they will realize that in and out of service, the nation will look after them health-wise”, she added.
Ms. Obada explained that Navy, Airforce, and Army personnel, and their spouses, as well as four children under the age of 18, will be beneficiaries of the scheme, just as it exists for civilians.
According to her, the inclusion of the military in the NHIS is necessary to encourage members of the armed forces to continually give their best to the nation, and reassure them on their welfare even after service when they could still be called upon to serve the country.
“when the NHIS was introduced by the Federal Government to ameliorate the hardship by Nigerians in accessing healthcare, the Nigerian military retirees were excluded from the scheme despite the fact that in the Armed Forces Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS), Chapter 19, Section 19 stipulates that all retired officers shall be entitled to free medical treatment in armed forces and government hospitals,” Ms. Obada said.
“Before this approval the retirees had been going to the military health facilities requesting for free medical care, but unfortunately they were not attended to,” she added.
New Infrastructural projects for Niger Delta
At the FEC meeting; the Council also approved the commencement of 44 infrastructural projects across the Niger Delta states of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Imo, Abia and Ondo, under the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) mandate.
The Minister of Information did not disclose the cost of the projects to states, but said they involve bridges, roads and other infrastructural projects.
The Council also approved a National Policy on Climate Change to provide the government with a framework for tackling environmental challenges occasioned by global changes in the climate, the effect of which has manifested in increased flooding and rise in sea level.
The Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafia, said the policy framework will guide economic and social response of Nigerians to the global trend of climate change, though she did not give specific details.
Being a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Nigeria’s adoption of the policy will enhance her obligation towards reduction of emission of obnoxious substances in the environment. Gas flaring in the country has also been reduced to eight per cent and will improve further as more gas is sent to generate electricity in upcoming power stations.
The Federal Capital Territory also got an approval for the second phase provision of infrastructure at a cost of N13.3billion for Mbora district, within the third phase of Abuja’s development plan. It will be funded from the statutory budget of the Nigerian capital.
The Minister of State for Abuja, Olajumoke Akinjide, explained that the contract will involve arterial and collector roads, telecommunications, power supply, drainage works, and others, which will enable plot owners to start development, generate employment and decongest the city centre.