Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said lack of resources is not responsible for Nigeria’s relative under-development, and blamed visionless leadership for the sorry state of the country.
Speaking in Owerri as Chairman, at the Governors Progressive Governance Lecture Series, organised by the All Progressives Congress, he said Nigeria has the resources, but needed “leadership, vision and determination to make things work.”
In his speech, which was sent to journalists in Abuja on Monday, he said the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria has brought to the fore Nigeria’s emergency management response strategies.
According to him, the arrival of the fatal disease calls for urgent need for adequate investments in healthcare, infrastructure and service delivery across the country.
Addressing the inconsistency between Nigeria’s resources and its performance, Abubakar said the statistics were disturbing and that the outbreak of Ebola had only exposed the underbelly of our healthcare system.
Despite Nigeria’s vast resources and human capital, he regretted that the doctor-to-patient ratio in Nigeria still stands at 1 to 6,400 which he said is far below the WHO standard of 1 to 600.
He also lamented that at 50 per cent access to improved water source and 35 per cent adequate sanitation for Nigerians, the country is among the lowest in the world.
On infant and maternal mortality rate of 74 and 630 respectively, the former Vice President said the figures put Nigeria among the worst.
According to him, health is not a privilege, but a right which “every citizen in a modern society is entitled to.”
He explained that security and healthcare are critical areas posing urgent and grave challenges to Nigeria.
He said emphasis on healthcare education is no less important, and that it is 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.”
The former Vice President also lamented the fact that “highly qualified and experienced medical professionals who were trained at public expense but chose to practice abroad.”
He 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.
He said, “There is no justification for workers everywhere in the country to earn the same salaries.”