Covid-19: Time to invest more in health, education sectors ― Lukman DG, PGF

Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, has advised those holding elective positions across party divides to use the challenge posed by the deadly scourge, coronavirus to reflect on the urgent need to increase budgetary provisions for the health and education sectors in their subsequent annual budgets.

The Director-General of the PGF, a forum of governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in a statement noted that Nigeria was in the dire strait in the face of the pandemic simply because successive administration since mid- 1980s have paid lip services to quality investment in the two critical sectors.
He said: “In this trying time, there are hard facts that we must come to terms with. As Nigerians, since the mid-1980s, our public policy thrust discourages public expenditure in health and education.
“In some ways, Covid-19 pandemic is confronting us with the opportunity to revisit our public policy thrust. Like Ms Rice has argued, nobody will ‘do the hard bending’ for us. In any case, every country is facing those basic challenges around making difficult public policy choices. In our context as Nigerians, are we ready to collectively work to revive our healthcare delivery services and educational institutions? Or are we going through another cycle of consolidating the same public policies that discourage public investment in our health and educational sectors?
“Whether we will be able to respond to this challenge positively depends on our ability to engage our leaders and through such engagements strengthen their capacity to courageously act for higher public investments in health and educational sectors. It is also about whether our leaders are disposed to public recommendations. In other words, are we ready as a nation to produce new policy equilibrium for the country?
“The reality is that the world is yet to produce any country where the health and education sectors were developed with private sector investments. Nigeria, like many so-called developing countries, was a victim of ideological subjugation by global financial institutions.
“Arguably, one of the big lessons Covid-19 is bringing to us is that our health and safety can only be guaranteed with good public investment in the health sector.
”It is true that our leaders have disappointed us over the years. It is also true that our leaders have, with hardly any exception, piloted the affairs of our country with submissive compliance to the philosophy that discourages public investment in health and educational sectors, at least since the mid-1980s. Most cases of public investments in these sectors prioritise constructions of hospitals and schools or classrooms. In very rare instances, the limited investments cover provisions of medical equipment. Investments in the development of healthcare personnel, medicine, research, teachers, books, etc. are hardly considered.”
Lukman called on all leaders in the country and their followers, irrespective of political persuasions to work as a team to combat the pandemic which he noted was a threat to all.
”With the enormity of the threat Covid-19 has posed to humanity across the world, instinctively, all attention is about what to do to save humanity, at least in virtually every country. Non-governmental initiatives are springing up across the world to support governmental initiatives. Organised Private Sector, civil society, faith-based organisations, trade unions and all other voluntary associations are mobilising resources to support governments to tackle the threat of Covid-19 in virtually every country. Sadly, this cannot be said to be the case in Nigeria.”
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