Emma Okonji and Nosa Alekhuogie
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), wednesday criticised the decision of the federal government to heavily slash the budget of primary healthcare from N44.4 billion to N25.5 billion and the Universal Basic Education (UBE) budget from N111.7 billion to N51.1 billion, while it only slightly slashed the budget for the renovation of the National Assembly complex from N37 billion to N27.7 billion.
Worried that the budget for the renovation of the National Assembly complex was reduced by only by 25.1 per cent, while that of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, which is meant to cater for all the primary healthcare centres across the 774 local government areas in the country, was significantly reduced to more than 42.5 per cent, the organised labour said government was ill-advised in its calculation.
A member of the Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress, who is also a former Vice President of the Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu, who was a guest speaker on the Morning Show of ARISE NEWS Channel, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, has however faulted the uneven cut in the budgetary allocations.
According to him, government must begin to think along the line of the new normal, presented by the effect of COVID-19, by doing something completely different from the old ways of governance.
Aremu said government must have a rethink about the healthcare system of the country, which he said was already in a sorry state, and must ensure that enough budget is channeled to the health and education sectors of the country.
“Long-time poor funding of the healthcare and education sector led to the decay of these sectors, which became worsened by the effect of COVID-19 that took the world by surprise. The federal government is fund of allocating heavy budgets to non-priority sectors of the economy leaving out the priority sectors like education and primary healthcare. The federal government should be more concerned about saving the lives of Nigerians through the provision of adequate healthcare facilities in our hospitals, as well as ensuring the provision of sound education for its citizens, and think less about the renovation of the National Assembly complex that is already in good shape,” Aremu said.