Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has blamed the lack of vision by Nigerian leaders for the poor governance in the country.
Mr. Atiku spoke in Owerri, the Imo State capital as Chairman at the All Progressives Congress, APC, Governors Progressive Governance Lecture Series, where he also noted that a lack of resources was not responsible for Nigeria’s relative under-development.
The former Vice President said Nigeria has the resources, but needs “leadership, vision and determination to make things work.”
In the speech, which dwelt extensively on health, Mr. Atiku said the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in Nigeria had brought to fore Nigeria’s emergency management response strategies.
According to him, the arrival of the fatal disease called for an urgent need for adequate investments in healthcare, infrastructure and service delivery across the country.
Addressing the inconsistency between Nigeria’s resources and its performance, Mr. Atiku said the statistics were disturbing and that the outbreak of Ebola had only exposed the underbelly of our healthcare system.
He regretted that despite Nigeria’s vast resources and human capital the doctor-to-patient ratio in Nigeria was 1 to 6,400 which was far below the WHO standard of 1 to 600.
He also lamented that Nigerians had 50 per cent access to improved water source and 35 per cent adequate sanitation.
On infant and maternal mortality rate of 74 and 630 respectively, the former Vice President said the figures put Nigeria among the worst.
The former vice president said health was not a privilege, but a right which “every citizen in a modern society is entitled to.”
He explained that security and healthcare were critical areas posing urgent and grave challenges to Nigeria.
He said emphasis on healthcare education was no less important, and that it was embarrassing that in the 21st century, Nigerians would be resorting to crude solution of “soaking ourselves in salty water to fight the virulent Ebola virus.”
He also lamented the fact that “highly qualified and experienced medical professionals who were trained at public expense but chose to practice abroad.”
Mr. Atiku said there should be creative solutions to deal with this situation of investing heavily in healthcare professionals who end up serving abroad.
He explained that in a federal system, states should introduce policies that would attract doctors to serve their needs.
“There is no justification for workers everywhere in the country to earn the same salaries,” he said.