The governors of the 19 northern Nigerian states have signed a pact with General Electric for the upgrade of healthcare infrastructure and manpower across the region.
Isa Gusau, the spokesman of the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, in a statement on Wednesday said his boss signed the MOU on Tuesday at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja with the American company on behalf of the 19 state governors.
Governor Shettima is the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum.
General Electric was represented at the ceremony by its Vice Chairman/President, Global Growth, John Rice, and Chief Executive Officer of G.E Nigeria, Lazarus Agbazo.
Mr. Gusau said the governors have also created the Northern Nigeria Global Economic Re-integration Program (NNGERP), with a former Presidential Economic Adviser, Tanimu Kurfi as chairman, to work with G.E in implementing the MOU.
Mr. Agbazo, in his remark outlined the five pillars of the agreement.
These are that G.E would develop specialized hospitals and diagnostic centres of excellence, build the capacity of healthcare professionals, revitalize primary and referral healthcare to support attainment of universal healthcare coverage, manage equipment services projects including technology, services & maintenance, and explore local bio-manufacturing solutions.
Governor Shettima said there was an urgent need for implementation of the MOU so that the people of the region can begin to see the result.
“I will like to emphasize the wish and commitment of the Northern Governors Forum that by next year, our partnership with the G.E should take practical stock of what we should have been able to accomplish,” the governor was quoted by the statement.
“By being able to showcase a practical difference, we will be translating the covenant of our signatures from the pages to the people. The Northern Governors Forum is absolutely committed to this partnership and we have supreme confidence in our selfless and versatile Malam Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, who is heading the Northern Nigeria Global Economic Re-integration Programme which is the facilitator of today’s partnership.
“As we go towards implementation, we should bear in mind that the lives of many people in Northern Nigeria depend on how quickly we are able to continually improve access to quality and affordable healthcare.
“The North is dealing with five most serious problems; low literacy, poverty, poor healthcare, unproductive population and bad economic position.
“To borrow from conclusions of one thoroughly researched presentation by former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Suleyman Ndanusa, out of 79.6 million Nigerians living in poverty, more than 50 million of them, representing about seventy per cent live in the 19 states of Northern Nigeria.
“The result has been lack of affordability of the most basic of healthcare services. Series of report by the World Health Organisation gives records of high maternal, infant and under five-old mortality in the northern population.
“I am sure someone here, would naturally ask the question, what are Northern Governors doing to save the situation? From our thorough analysis, we have since resolved to productively invest on sound and measured basic education.
“We resolved to have strong bias for girl-child education. An educated woman will go for ante natal care rather than paying attention to any untrained traditional birth attendant. An educated woman will not allow herself to be used by any man to pro-create dozens of children without being responsible for their healthcare, their education and without putting food on the table.
“We are approaching the whole problems through a social scientific approach,” Mr. Shettima said.