By Ann Godwin
The National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (GCFR) has lamented that sudden increase in the price of petrol, has adversely affected all critical sectors, especially health, transportation and power. The association said the decision by the Federal Government on subsidy removal, in the face of a very challenging economy, was catastrophic.
The group, in a statement signed by its National President, Dr. Sofiri Peterside Junior, and Secretary General, Dr. Enobong Akpan in Port Harcourt recently said field reports obtained from its members revealed that doctors and dental surgeons working in health facilities, parastatals and agencies of federal, state and local councils, among other health workers and clients, were being subjected to severe pains and suffering.
The association expressed fear that the ugly development could translate to work to order in some sectors of the economy, thereby, worsening poverty in the country. It regretted that Nigerian citizens are paying the price for longstanding political and economic mismanagement of the subsidy scheme.
The association, therefore, demanded that the nation’s refineries should be revamped to functioning capacity as soon as possible, and licenses should be given for the establishment of more refineries, to encourage local production of petroleum products. It noted: “The Federal Government should institute measures to stop crude oil theft, secure our borders and stop leakages within the oil and gas sector. There should be a committee set up by the Federal Government to audit the subsidy regime since its inception and the use of funds recurrently allocated for repair of our refineries, and that culprits should be brought to book.
“There is urgent need for the Federal Government to strengthen healthcare financing by ensuring at least 15 per cent budgetary allocation to the health sector. There is also need to achieve the universal health coverage through primary healthcare and national and state health insurance schemes across the country, to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and guarantee accessible and affordable healthcare.
The association urged the Federal Government to set up a robust economic team that would establish cushioning measures to protect citizens. “Priority should be given to measures aimed at addressing widespread hunger and poverty in the country. They should also bring on board palliative measures to mitigate the impact of subsidy removal on citizens, especially for people on low incomes. The Federal Government, in the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice, should take measures to cut down the cost of governance by the Executive and the National Assembly, reduce borrowing, and channel such funds to other critical sectors of the economy, including minimum wage increase,” it noted.
The association charged the Bola Tinubu-led administration to demonstrate empathy towards citizens of the country by alleviating their suffering.