2020 Budget: Health Sector to Get N56.7bn as First Line Charge, Says Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said the health sector will receive N56.7 billion from the Consolidated Revenue of the federation in addition to other funds provided in 2020 budget.

The minister said the amount is the one percent of the Consolidated Revenue of the federation statutorily allocated to the country’s health sector under the Health Act.

In a statement issued yesterday by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Mr. Charles Akpan, the minister said Nigeria had done very well in both remuneration and investment in the health sector.

With regards to the recent agreement reached with labour on the full implementation of the minimum wage, Ngige said the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (COMESS) which was in the category B of the public service remuneration grade was well protected and remunerated even before the consequential adjustment negotiation.

On the budget for the health sector, Ngige said: “The health is getting one percent from the consolidated revenue of the federation. The one percent in the 2019 budget for instance amounted to N49 billion and N56.7billion in 2020 budget.

This is apart from the statutory budget to the sector in the Federal Ministry of Health annual budget.”

Ngige stated this at a meeting with the leadership of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Abuja.

He challenged the NMA to take the battle for the upliftment of the national healthcare system to the 36 states of the federation where governors have completely abdicated their responsibilities, likening the federal government to a willing horse that must not be ridden to death.

“The state governments have abdicated their responsibilities and nobody is talking to them; nobody is doing anything. Everything is now federal. Federal government will provide tertiary healthcare, secondary and even primary healthcare as well as provide a place for residency programme. How can we do that? The federal government is in fact a willing horse, but if a horse is willing, you don’t ride it to death,” Ngige said while receiving the leadership of NMA in Abuja.

He noted that: “Health is on the concurrent list and nothing stops the state governments from doing the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. In fact, as a young doctor, when I did my housemanship, we had a hybrid of secondary and tertiary. That is why I left the teaching hospital and did mine at the Onitsha General Hospital while some of my colleagues had theirs at Enugu-Ukwu General Hospital and Parklane Hospital in Enugu. But today, the state governments have run away from even primary healthcare. Their general hospitals are glorified residents for rodents and reptiles.”

The minister urged the NMA to mobilise and sensitise its state chapters to take up the issue of the ‘unfortunate’ abandonment of responsibilities in healthcare delivery by the state governments.