Huriwa Logo

Huriwa Logo

Friday, 13 October 2017

BUHARI’S INSTRUCTION TO WORLD BANK IS IMPEACHABLE OFFENCE – says HURIWA:

A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned as an impeachable infraction by President Muhammadu Buhari, his purported directive to the World Bank to focus all her developmental assistance to Northern Nigeria.
The Rights body said the disclosure by the World Bank president that the Nigeria president had asked the BrettonWood Funding Institution to focus exclusively on Northern Nigeria has confirmed the long held perception that the current president is a Northern irredentist who has scarce regards for the constitutional principles of equity, equality and social justice to all Nigerians and that he has no care in this World about respecting the constitutional principles of Federal character in the appointments and execution of government policies.
The group said it is also a breach of his constitutional oath of office and allegiance to the constitution not to implement government’s policies based on his ethno- religious interests.
In a media statement by the national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs’ Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, the Rights group has asked the National Assembly to open a probe of this shocking disclosure and to censure President Buhari and ensures he either counter-instructs the World Bank to work for all of Nigeria or the National Assembly begins an impeachment process because a breach of constitutional oaths of office is extensively damaging.
"Under Sections 140(1) and 140(2), the President is required to take the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office, an act that is significant to the extent that the Oath of Office expands the responsibility to which the President commits himself when he bears true Allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and when he undertakes to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

HURIWA expounded further that scholars of constitutional law have affirmed that by taking the Oath of Office, the President commits himself to specific goals of general nature to wit:(i)     bear allegiance to the Republic;(ii)    faithfully discharge his duties in accordance with the             Constitution;(iii)   strive to preserve the fundamental objectives and                        directive principles of state policy;(iv)   avoid influence caused by personal interest;(v)    abide by the code of conduct; and(vi)   treat all people equally under the law".
Besides, HURIWA further accused president Buhari of breaching the constitutional provisions which absolutely prohibits discriminatory enforcement of policies to favour particular sections of Nigeria against other zones just as the rights group warned against the sweeping of these allegations under the carpets of impunity.

To buttress her point that the discriminatory instruction to the World Bank by President Muhammadu Buhari to favour the North is unconstitutional, the Rights group cited 42.-(1) of the Constitution which affirmed thus:"A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person-(a)  be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b)  be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions”.(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth."

HURIWA recalled that the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, said on Thursday that the bank had concentrated on the northern region of Nigeria in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s request.
Kim and the Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, spoke at separate press conferences in Washington dc.
Kim said, “You know, in my very first meeting with President Buhari he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that.  Now, it has been very difficult. The work there has been very difficult."
The Rights group said the World Bank's chief had also disclosed that:"Despite that, there is so much turbulence in the northern part of the country, and there is the hit that was taken from the drop in the oil prices.  Nigeria has to think ahead and invest in its people. Investing in the things that will allow Nigeria to be a thriving, rapidly growing economy in the future is what the country has to focus on right now.”
Kim also said, “Focusing on the northern part of Nigeria, we hope that as commodity prices stabilize and oil prices come back up, the economy will grow a bit more. But very, very much important is the need to focus on what the drivers of growth in the future will be.”
HURIWA therefore has called civil society organisations that are patriotic to speak out in condemnation of this clear manifestation of Ethnic and regional preferences expressed by President Muhammadu Buhari which are capable of destroying the seed of national unity and equality of development which the Nigerian Constitution so much emphasizes

Thursday, 12 October 2017

REVERSING NIGERIA’S YOUTHFUL MISFORTUNE BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO


There are signs in the horizons near us to show that the Nigerian Youth as a collective is in the throes of hydra- headed misfortunes.
Take for example the case of the last five years since the dreaded armed Islamic terror group known as boko haram embarked on destructive campaign of terror in the Northern parts of Nigeria.
What do you see? The bulk of the top fighters and casualties of these spate of attacks are mostly youthful members of the populace.
At the last count, over 30,000 Nigerians have died as a result of bombing attacks masterminded by the boko haram terrorists.
Let’s even look at the profile of those who were killed here in Abuja on the many occasions that the youth-led boko haram terrorists struck in places like the United Nations Abuja office, the Nigeria Police Force headquarters.
Such other venues of mass bombing campaign like Emab shopping plaza in wuse II, Abuja and the most tragic of them all, the attack at the bus park in the outskirts of Abuja in a place known for being densely populated called Nyanya. 
The greater percentage of those who died were mostly the younger members of our population.
Still analyzing the circumstantial deaths suffered by the youth in the last two years most especially, we need to take closer introspection of the casualties of the major cases of extralegal executions of unarmed protesters in the South East of Nigeria and in Zaria, Kaduna state carried out by armed security forces targeting members of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and the Shiites Islamic movement.
The majority of those who died from these crime against humanity perpetrated by the Nigerian security forces were the youth.
Then if we decide to critically analyse the crime statistics in Nigeria, what we will discover is that a clear majority of the suspected criminals are very young persons which is why the prisons are hugely over populated with young citizens.
The same is the story with the statistics of detainees in several detention centers administered by many law enforcement agencies.
Take for instance the police; what emerges is clear that most detainees are youngsters just as many of these persons have died from circumstances that can be classified as extralegal executions.
At a point, a one-time United Nations special rapporteur on torture visited some police detention facilities across the country and came up with extensively damaging reports indicting the police of alleged widespread extra judicial killings of crime suspects. 
Majority of these persons killed were young persons.
Again, in Anambra State during the administration of Mr. Peter Obi as governor, over three dozen corpses of youngsters dumped by the river side by the police were found.
Are we also talking about certain social vices that are pervasive in Nigeria such as drug abuse, trafficking, human trafficking and violent cultism? 
What do you see? Over 90 percent of these alleged offenders are youngsters.
Both the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the office of the Nigerian Senate President have expressed strong opinions about the unprecedented number of young Nigerians currently engaged in these misdemeanors.
This scandalous reports of youth involvement in drugs and drugs related crimes are disconcerting for a number of reasons, one of which is the high rate of mortality of the young persons and the high rates of mental cases involving young Nigerians. All these boils down to the cumulative loss of significant percentage of youthful productive population. If the youth are the leaders of today and then you find out that a majority of these persons are social deviants, the consequences would reflect in the quality and standard of political leadership. 
The concern raised by senate president Dr. Bukola Saraki as adumbrated above is understandable. 
First, the Senate President as a young Nigeria emerged powerfully in the political scene courtesy of his late father’s mentorship.
He defied all challenges confronting the young persons fed with silver spoon to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with. 
His sister followed his footsteps and also emerged powerfully in her youth to become a Senator.
Bukola Saraki is a father with young children. 
The senate president is the Chairman of the National Assembly session currently under whose watch the green legislative chamber has just passed a legislation lowering the  ages for qualification to run for strategic political offices thus creating more opportunities for very young Nigerians. The not too young to run bill is soon to be signed into law. 
The above profile clearly situates the genuineness of his concern for the youth and his avowed pledge to legislatively guide the youth to embrace the path of lawfulness by dropping those bad habits such as getting hooked on hard drugs and other criminalities. But pressures must be mounted so his words are matched by action.
Abubakar Bukola Saraki who received a delegation from the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) led by Mr. Ibrahim Yakasai to discuss the recurring menace of drug abuse and misuse in the country.
The Senate President expressed his readiness and those of his colleagues to look into the amendment of NDLEA Act in order to curb the prevalence of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country. 
Saraki also promised that a Motion will be raised on the Senate floor to adopt measures in ensuring that this trend is halted in the interest of the people and the society.
As promised, the Motion was listed on the Order Paper and debated on the floor of plenary and the following resolutions were reached amongst which are;Mandate its Joint Committee on Drugs and Narcotics and health to investigate the growing menace of cough and other prescriptive drugs abuse; Urge the FG to partner with stakeholders, traditional rulers, Pharmacists councils, NGOs to create framework in fighting this category of drug abuse and urge NAFDAC to embark on a vigorous sensitization campaign on the dangers of drug abuse and steps on achieving a successful rehabilitation for people with the addiction.

In a short speech made available to this writer the Senate President said thus:"Drug abuse causes a wide range of medical, mental and behavioural disorder which increases violence, criminal behaviour and exposes young people to sexual misconduct, STIs and HIV/AIDS."
Saraki had explained that on September 29th, he expressed his concern on the rising drug menace in the country. 
In more pragmatic fashion Dr. Saraki stated thus:"While drugs like cannabis and cocaine have affected many youths across the country, these days, codeine cough syrup and other prescription drugs have become “the new cancer” that is ravaging women and girls — specifically in the Northern part of the country."

The Senate President’s well founded sentiments of fatherly concern is worthwhile going by the yearly findings of NDLEA Indicating that youth's involvement in drug abuses are worrisome.
Another related menace is the phenomenon of violent cultism which has precipitated dozens of deaths of young persons in Lagos, Rivers State and Edo State amongst other places.
In Lagos, only few weeks back, the cult group known as “badoo boys” literally took over the crime world, killing, maiming and destroying lives and property of mostly residents of Ikorodu.
Recently, there have been many unexplained deaths of young persons in situations that aren’t too far from involvement in the social vices of drugs.
Recently, a friend of David Adeleke, the young musician known as Davido died in yet unexplained circumstances but one general story was that the young man consumed several tots of intoxicants in a drinking spot in Lagos shortly before he died of suffocation.
Last week, two former national officials of the National Association of Nigeria students (NANS) died after brief illness.

Amidst the harvest of natural and mostly unnatural deaths of young Nigerians comes the tale of hundreds of fatalities in high seas of young Nigerians making deadly efforts to cross over to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea apparently due to the large scale life threatening insecurity in Nigeria.
And now there is a report that over 90 percent of all early marriages occur in Africa and Nigeria occupies a notorious spotlight. 
Early marriage denies girls the economic opportunities and the development of their human capacities that are their fundamental human rights. 
Early marriages in Nigeria have often exposed Nigerian youngsters to fatalities from health related challenges during child births which incapacitates them for a life time. These young girls put in family ways are confronted by the danger of sexually transmitted diseases like cervical cancer, Malaria, death during childbirth,and obstetric fistulas(www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).

Lastly, there is a new report of large number of young children of the few privileged Nigerians suffering from obesity.
The number of obese children and adolescents aged five to 19 years worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades, a UN – backed study has revealed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in the study that if current trends continued, there would be more obese children and adolescents than those moderately or severely underweight by 2022.
The study led by Imperial College London and WHO was published in The Lancet, to commemorate the World Obesity Day
Ms. Fiona Bull, Programme Coordinator for Surveillance and Population-based Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases at WHO, said obesity was a global health crisis.
Bull said: “These data highlight, remind and reinforce that overweight and obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action.
“It looked at body mass index (BMI) from weight and height measurements of nearly 130 million people, including 31.5 million youth aged five to 19.
“Obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from less than one per cent – equivalent to five million girls and six million boys – in 1975 to nearly six per cent, or 50 million girls, and nearly eight per cent, or 74 million boys, in 2016.”
Combined, the number of obese five to 19 year olds rose more than tenfold globally, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 while an additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity.
“These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families and communities,” said lead author Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial’s School of Public Health.
But Ironically, whilst the children of the few privileged class suffer obesity, over 2.5 million children in the North East suffer from malnutrition.
Just as the Senate President has rolled out legislative agenda for resolving much of these developmental challenges confronting the youth, the executive arm must also enforce policies and programmes to check these ugly trends.
For instance, the ministries of women Affairs; youth affairs, women development center; wife of the president and wives of governors should synergize to operationalize concrete youth-based programmes to cut down on youth involvement in crime and violence. 
These projects can also be anchored around the implementation of sporting fiestas, cultural and social events and vocational trainings to keep the younger persons busy and creatively productive. We need to set up more functional sporting facilities in our local government areas to catch young sporting talents and keep our youngsters busy. The Secondary school sports must be reinvigorated and sports clubs should spring up in local communities supported by the private sector as part of their corporate social responsibility. 
Nigeria needs the youngsters to be able to become an important player in this twenty first century's world whereby information technology and knowledge economy leads the global way to sustainable development.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko, heads, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.com; www.huriwa@blogspot.com; www.topnotchgossip.com  

DON'T ENSLAVE NIGERIANS WITH LOANS:- CISLAC TELLS BUHARI:

Image result for president buhari images
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy wishes to caution the Federal Government to avoid institutionalizing a policy of the granting of long-term tax incentives to corporate businesses to achieve project implementation. This is because of its tendency to create a distorted fiscal picture necessary for sustainable revenue and expenditure planning for infrastructural development. It is also susceptible to abuse and creation of complex tax administration frameworks that would result in long term revenue loss to the nation.

We are worried that the failure of government to deliver on its promise to Nigerians on infrastructure development, after over two years in office, due to the financial challenges because of dwindling revenues from oil, is driving her into panic mode and making her resort to desperate measures, including falling back on discredited and obsolete approach of handing out tax incentives to show results, probably for electioneering campaign prelude to 2019. This must however not be done at the expense of long term national interest and development.

CISLAC finds it disturbing that a country that is posting a debt to GDP Ratio of 16 percent and a budget deficit of about 31 per cent of her annual budget in 2017, planning to borrow another $5 Billion (about 1.9 Trillion Naira) to fund the 2017 budget, while already spending about 36 percent of scarce revenues to service debts and is in danger of losing international funding to provide social services, still finds it convenient to concede revenues through the use of incentives. That this is done in exchange for road construction is quite embarrassing and an indictment of the government.

We remind the Government that in the era of falling prices of commodities, including oil, dipping national oil reserves and waning demand for fossil fuels, countries are seeking alternative sources of revenues through domestic resource mobilization with emphasis of maximizing tax revenues to finance development and meet SDG goals. They are blocking tax loopholes, addressing illicit financial flows, tackling tax evasion and avoidance, re-negotiating fiscal regimes in contracts and doing away with granting of tax incentives.

CISLAC understands that the arrangement reached with the Dangote Group to offer tax incentive in exchange for road construction falls within the purview of the CITA (Exemption of Profits Order 2012). However, the new National Tax Policy envisages that tax incentives are sector based and not directed at entities or persons that should provide a net benefit to the country, and equally available to all persons in the same class and be very clear and avoid ambiguity. We find no evidence that these principles have been followed in this case. The fact that the design and cost of the proposed road project is unknown, reveal the quality of thinking that went into this decision. We also find the review of the Order to extend from five years to ten curious.

We are aware that this tendency for hasty and discretionary award of tax incentives is what makes it prone to abuse and corruption as has been with previous arrangements such as the Pioneer Status Incentives which this administration have had to cancel and review. For instance, have other cement companies being offered the opportunity to construct roads in exchange for tax incentives? How many of such is government willing to grant and what will be the cost? Is such concession exclusive to some entities? How many micro, small and medium enterprises businesses that have funded road rehabilitation, sunken boreholes and provided other public benefits to which the CITA (Exemption of Profits Order 2012) also applies have benefited from the order?

CISLAC observes that the process leading up to this has lacked clarity and transparency as a cost-benefit analysis and report has not been publicly disclosed; there are no indications that similar corporate entities were offered equal opportunity. We find the very idea of offering firm tax incentives to build a road from which it directly benefits undesirable.

We therefore call on the Minister of Finance to review this decision and ensure that this practice is stopped to avoid setting a dangerous trend that would hurt the nation in the long run. The actual revenue forgone should be computed and announced for all Nigerian to know by January 2017, as envisaged by the National Tax Policy. The process should be open to all potential beneficiaries in the sector, if it must proceed for fairness and equity. The FIRS should undertake a thorough audit at the appropriate time and publicly declare the implication to revenue to the Nigerian people.

We call on the National Assembly Committees on Finance to interrogate this decision to ensure that it passes the tests of transparency and equity and is truly in the national interest. The relevant Committees must carry out effective oversight to ensure value for money, especially since any such incentive is meant to take effect only after the road project is completed.

We call on the federal government to be mindful of the widening fiscal deficit, increasing national debt and wide infrastructural gap and bleak oil revenues and address these through better tax administration, tackling tax evasion and avoidance and illicit financial flows and ensure that all citizens and corporate businesses pay their fair share of tax.

The Government should adhere strictly to the implementation of the National Tax Policy and follow through her commitments in the OGP national Action Plan This is the only way for sustainable revenues to finance development for our people.

Signed

Auwal Ibrahim Musa(Rafsanjani)

Executive Director,

CISLAC

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

MILITARY SHOULD NOT IMMUNIZE SCHOOL CHILDREN- says HURIWA

Image result for nigerian school children

A pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has cautioned the military hierarchy to desist from administering vaccination on school children as that falls outside their constitutional mandate.

HURIWA said her attention has been drawn to a fast spreading stories in the social and online media that the military currently carrying out internal military operation code named operation python dance in the South East of Nigeria were allegedly administering vaccines on school children in public and private schools as part of their corporate social responsibility.
But the Rights group stated that there are widespread perception that the outbreak of monkey pox whose immediate origin has not been sufficiently and satisfactorily uncovered by relevant authorities has fed the rumour mills with the misperception that the free vaccination exercise by the military in the South/South may have caused the outbreak of the deadly ailments thereby spreading apprehension around the South East of Nigeria. 
In a media release signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA maintained that in as much as there is no scientifically established nexus between the free vaccination/medical  exercise/outreach by the Nigeria Army and the outbreak of the pandemic of Monkey Pox, it is still necessary that the military is stopped from performing the medical exercise since that is not the statutory mandate of the military in line with the constitutional provisions as enshrined in section 217 and 218 of the extant grundnorm governing the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

For the avoidance of doubts, the constitution in sections 217 and 218 provides thus: “217.-(1) There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. (2)   The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of ;- (a)    Defending Nigeria from external aggression;(b)   Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air;(c)    suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and(d)   Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly. (3)   The composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria.

Also HURIWA cited section 218.(1) as stating that:   "The powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.(2)   The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.(3)   The President may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as he may think fit, delegate to any member of the armed forces of the Federation his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.(4)   The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the regulation of :-(a)    The powers exercisable by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation; and(b)   The appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of members of the armed forces of the Federation”.

HURIWA therefore asked the military to restrict their functions and operations to the specific roles assigned to them by all the relevant laws since the military is a creation of the Constitution and not a government onto itself.
“The Nigeria Army must stick to her statutory role of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria. If in any case the Nigeria Army has a plan to provide free medical services, the military institution must do so in active partnership with the Federal and State Ministries of health to avoid this kind of pedestrian speculation on the real intention of the exercise”.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

ASO ROCK's CLINIC OF INFAMY BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO


Anybody who has never gone through a near-death experience may not fully appreciate what it means to go through the valley of the shadow of death that has become the daily routine in most public hospitals in Nigeria. 

It is a fact that Patients who are not financially empowered and left with the option of patronizing the publicly owned general or local health centers are meant to go through a near-death situation because of the certainty of the uncertainty of quality of treatments and drugs that such a poor patient would get.
The public health system in Nigeria has systematically collapsed under the heavy weight of perennial and persistent managerial corruption, inefficiency and ineffectiveness of officials of government.

All that a researcher needs to do to gauge the real situation of affairs in the nation’s public healthcare is to pay a visit to any general hospital anywhere in Nigeria and to take the pains to visit the laboratory and ask the relevant questions of the functionality or workability of the critical infrastructures in and around the hospital. Such critical factors like survival rates, patient safety, specialized staff and hospital reputation are not available in much of these public hospitals and these are essential factors for determining the standards of hospitals. 
The first sign of doom that would stare you on the face the moment you enter a public health facility anywhere in Nigeria is the environmental insanity and degradation. You would be shocked to see medical workers competing for space with rodents and cockroaches. 

The medical and non-medical staffs do also run their petty businesses by the side making the public hospitals appear like a multipurpose shopping complex.

The next bad sign to notice is that the moment power supply system from the national grid is switched off as is often the case with the epileptic electricity power supply system in the country, you would notice that most of these public health facilities lack functional generators to power the critical health equipment. Virtually all the public hospitals that can afford run diesel powered generating sets as sources of their electricity power thereby spreading pollutants around the environment and further exposing their patients to the risks associated with environmental pollution.

A story was once told of a man who took his relative for common surgery of appendicitis but had to also go to the general hospital with a generating set just so the procedure would not be interrupted by poor power supply.
The public healthcare system in the country is going through some of the worst forms of criminal negligence and abandonment.

One reason for this is the phenomenon of foreign medical tourism by most government officials and their family members. 
Another related cause of the total degeneration of quality in the public healthcare is the lack of professional supervision and the next giant reason is the porous mechanisms of public procurements that create room for corruption. 
The Bureau for Public Procurement is weighed down by multifaceted factors of corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies.

I will return to discuss the causative factors that have led to the gradual and systematic collapse of the public healthcare but first let us examine emerging scandals from the presidential medical facility in Abuja.

The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs. Aisha Buhari is in the news as expressing her disappointment about the poor state of facilities at the AsoRock Clinic.
The wife of the president expressed her frustration at the total non-availability of basic amenities at the prime health facility set up by the federal government to take care of the health and related well-being of the members of the political class within the presidency and also the staff who work within the confines of the presidency.

The presidential clinic is known to be one of the most heavily funded government's owned health facilities in the country which gets humongous budgetary releases yearly.
The question raised by the wife of the president came within few weeks of the reported castigation of the AsoRock Clinic by the daughter of the president who expressed strong views to depict the clinic as being badly managed.

An interesting factor is that the AsoRock Clinic was set up just like a “father Christmas” avenue whereby free medical services are offered to patients composed of the privileged few who are already earning so much money from the central treasury of Nigeria. 

The AsoRock's Health center is said to provide medical services to the president, vice president, and their families, members of staff of the state House and other entitled public servants. 
But even as the AsoRock Clinic offers free medical services to these aforementioned beneficiaries, the question to ask is why are there no checks and balances in the management of such a prime facility? 

What are the steps put in place to ensure transparency and accountability? 
What steps are being implemented to ensure that drugs and other essential equipment meant for that clinic are not diverted?

These sets of interrogatories are critical because of the loose practice amongst Nigerians whereby there is the tendency by many to abuse any opportunity of benevolence because it is generally believed that with humongous crude oil money flowing into government coffers, whatever goodies anybody can grab from government must be done with reckless abandon.
In framing the above questions, one is aware of the unreasonableness of providing free healthcare services to top government officials particularly when such persons do still enjoy generous allowances. 

Again, if the family members of the state House can have unfettered access to AsoRock Clinic, what kind of family members do we mean given that in Africa the extended family system is deeply rooted in our culture?

It is possible that occupants of top political offices operating within the Presidency will open the floodgates of free Medicare to their kiths and kins in the name of being family members. African and Nigeria's notion of big man sometimes means that those who occupy privileged positions behave like persons who are above the law. Indeed, even the militarily hand-picked writers of the extant constitution inserted a crude provision under section 308(1) which gives blanket immunity from prosecution for about 78 executive office holders such as the President, his VP; the governors and their deputies. 

There is this climate of impunity that this section creates making it look like these persons can do just anything including carting away public assets even from public clinics without being called to account until such a person vacates office. So the questions of probity and integrity of the process of managing AsoRock's clinic are largely yawning for transparent responses.
Let's also ask the managers, what kind of data are maintained in the Presidential clinic to record the beneficiaries and their status? 

What is the quality of regular audits that are carried out in that AsoRock's clinic to block leakages and theft of public fund which both the EFCC and ICPC Acts criminalizes?  
Why does government subsidize healthcare services for some selected few who are in the corridors-of-power whereas the people who are the owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria are allowed to die from commonly treatable ailments such as malaria fever?

Section 14 (2) (a) of the Constitution states as follows: "Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority".

This sacred provision therefore means that any activity of any government official that compromises the health and security of the people of Nigeria must be seen as a threat to national security and the offending government officials must be prosecuted and punished for this crime against humanity.
In such serious countries like China, Singapore and even Vietnam, public officials who steal fund meant for public healthcare are executed in firing squads.

But in Nigeria which prides itself as the largest black nation in the world and claims to practice constitutional democracy, the most attractive job is politics whereby successful public office holders do not have to worry about the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies even if they decide to empty the entire health budget of their states into their private pockets.

It is only in Nigeria that the millions of people are left to die whereas the few government officials are ferried abroad at public expenses to be attended to by foreign doctors. 
Millions of rural and urban poor in Nigeria are left to their cruel fate and do often suffer sudden deaths because of the insufficient health care facilities and medical workers at their services. Doctors and medical workers in public hospitals have lately made it a routine to always embark on strike over disagreements with government on conditions of service just as all of these persons divert their human resources to run their private clinics thereby allowing poor patients to die gruesome deaths. 

These challenges of non-availability of functional public healthcare are compounded by the high rate of absolute poverty afflicting over 100 million Nigerians meaning that they cannot afford to pay for private health services which are few and far between. In the last two years the costs of pharmaceutical products have shot through the roofs due to high taxations by the Nigerian Customs services and the fees charged by the National Agency for foods and Drugs (NAFDAC). 
Because of non-affordability by millions of ordinary Citizens of these foreign pharmaceutical products, they are exposed to the deadly vagaries of patronizing cheap and substandard drugs and quacks. These are consequences of the depraved tendencies of the elite to service their greed at the disadvantage of the many who are poor and not privileged. 

Just one example will suffice to show you how crude and wicked political office holders are in Nigeria and to show you that they do not care about the welfare of the people which in any event, is the primary constitutional duty of government.
This example that has come in handy is the 2016 and 2017 annual budgets that go to the state House Abuja whereby this non-performing Aso Rock Clinic is located.

The amount budgeted for the repairs of presidential villa between 2014-2015 amounted to N3.68 Billion but between 2016 -2017, the amounts skyrocketed to N12.43 Billion.
In all of the last two years, the princely sum of N22.5 Billion is budgeted for the state House Headquarters. 
Then look at the shocking statistics from the United Nations which shows that 5.1 million citizens are faced with food shortage due to the insurgency in the North East.
UNICEF also stated that 2.5million children in the country are severely malnourished even as only N50,000 is required to treat each child but the public officials spend hugely from the public till to travel to foreign jurisdictions to meet doctors for their health services at public costs.

Even president Muhammadu Buhari whose wife has raised the alarm about the state House Clinic, has spent many months in the United Kingdom for medical treatments costing Nigerians tons of millions of dollars. 
The presidency has still not disclosed how much of public fund was spent for president Buhari’s several months of foreign medical tourism. 

Mrs. Buhari criticized the managers of Aso Rock Clinic for allegedly blowing away N3.89 billion last year and has yet to account for N331.7 million budgeted for it this year.
The situation of Aso Rock Clinic is a huge signal to show that Nigeria’s public healthcare is in an emergency situation. If the prime healthcare center in the Presidency lacks even ordinary syringes to administer on patients, how much worst will the local health centers in Arondizuogu or Kaura Namoda be? 
The Nigerian government must therefore take decisive actions to bring the public health emergency to a minimal level by tackling the hydra-headed issues of medical tourism and the different levels of corruption that have led to the collapse of the public healthcare.

The shame of the entire drama is that all the political elite have sinned and fallen short of the glory of exonerating themselves from these vices tearing down our public healthcare.
Nigeria should classify corruption in the public health sector and Defence as offences punishable by the death penalty to serve as effective deterrent and to stop Nigerians from dying only because they have no money to patronize private hospitals. 

The national health Insurance scheme must be reformed to efficiently provide services to poor Nigerian and get millions of Nigerians to enroll. Besides, the corruption that surfaced recently at the NHIS must be frontally tackled and dual principles of transparency and accountability be restored.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria andblogs@www.emmanuelonwubiko.com ; www.huriwa.blogspot.com.