Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has attributed the dwindling fortune of the country’s economy to selfish and callous actions of President Muhammadu Buhari, wealthy individuals and other persons of means.
He said the economy of the country is groaning under a debilitating medical tourism embarked upon by President Buhari and other affluent individuals like former Lagos state governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Buhari has on numerous occasions sought medical attention in foreign countries since he became president in 2015, he was in London for over three months in 2017 treating undisclosed ailment, the first of what will become a regular routine of having his health needs met in foreign countries while the healthcare system at home is on the verge of collapsing. This practice is not only against his self acclaimed modest lifestyle and election promise to put a stop to medical tourism but has also hampered the provision of quality healthcare for citizens who are now impoverished largely by his government policies.
Similarly, Tinubu, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, Buhari’s party, recently returned from London after three months there receiving medical care.
However, Emefiele said the actions of his principal and other persons who have followed in his footsteps are taking a devastating toll on the country’s economy.
The underwhelming CBN chief said medical tourism undertaken by Buhari and his ilks put a huge burden on the country’s foreign reserves. He disclosed that the budgetary allocation for medical treatment abroad comes at the expense of other vital sectors the economy that need attention.
“For every $1bn allocated to medical treatment abroad, there is less than $1bn that could be available to other critical sectors of our economy,” Emefiele said during launch of Duchess International Hospital, a newly built 100-suit health facility located in Ikeja, Lagos.
Emefiele implored private sector operators to invest in medical facilities to improve access to healthcare in the country.
He noted that, as part of the effort to address the country’s perennial health challenges, the apex bank and some private sector stakeholders supported COVID-19 intervention initiatives through CACOVID.
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To facilitate the recovery of Nigeria’s economy, the CBN governor said the key component of the monetary and fiscal policy was the utmost consideration and support given to the medical sector while making interventions in the manufacturing sector a priority.
He averred that the apex Bank would continue to do everything within its power to support the country’s struggling healthcare.
“When we started COVID-19 intervention initiatives, the CBN set aside N100bn to support the healthcare sector, but upon the rise in demand, we have disbursed N107.7bn, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital – just to mention a few,” he said.
Emefiele noted that the CBN had earmarked N100 billion to support the healthcare sector but the monetary policy committee said it should move it further up to N200 billion.