Nigerian Health Minister says N1.9 bn ‘Ebola Fund’ will be used for cars, others

Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria's health minister.

Amidst angry reactions trailing the unavailability of the N1.9 billion released by President Goodluck Jonathan for the management of Ebola, the Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has denied the money was for the management of the virus.

Mr. Chukwu’s denial came Tuesday despite an official statement from the federal government to the contrary.

On August 8, at the peak of the Ebola crisis, the president, in a press release signed by Reuban Abati, announced the release of N1.9 billion as a Special Intervention Fund for the management of Ebola.

“President Jonathan also approved a Special Intervention Plan and the immediate release of N1. 9 billion for its implementation, to further strengthen on-going steps to contain the virus such as the establishment of additional isolation centres, case management, contact tracing, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders, and the procurement of required items and facilities.

“The President commends the vigilance of aviation and health authorities in Lagos who identified and isolated the index case in Nigeria, the late Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian who flew into the country,” the statement read.

On Tuesday, however, Mr. Chukwu denied that the money was released for the management of Ebola. The Minister of Health said the money was approved for the Ministry of Health.

“The N1.9billion approved by the president was for the federal ministry of health. It is not for Ebola fund. It will be used to procure more vehicles for working which have been ordered. It would be used to procure more drugs that have been ordered…and other items.

“In the case of Lagos state, after the president met commissioners of health, the president then asked the minister of health to discuss with the technical people and money has been approved for Lagos state,” he said.

He further stated that though the world is at risk, the federal ministry of health is ready to face any outbreak.

“Excellence is a journey, it’s never a destination. The federal ministry of health is ready to face any outbreak.

“Every country and every citizen of the world remains at risk but Nigeria is on top of the situation so we don’t want people to panic. We should be in charge but not panic” he said.

The Lagos State government had complained that it did not receive the funds released for the management of Ebola despite being the epicentre of the management of the infection in the country.

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