A few hours after WikkiTimes’ investigation went viral, Dr Mohammad Makusidi, the Niger State Commissioner for Health contacted the reporter, saying, “we have read your report. But I am sure you also see the work we are doing in Bosso, General hospital and other places.”
“There is freedom of information,” the commissioner continued. “You can go ahead and write whatever you want to report. Thank you!”
This is despite the fact that WikkiTimes had a telephone interview with the commissioner before clicking the button. In addition, an FOI request sent to the office of the Director General, Niger State Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA), Dr Ibrahim Dangana on August 8, 2022, was not responded to. On several occasions, Dangana declined an interview session with our reporter.
Makusidi, when contacted, explained that the state government is trying its best in healthcare service delivery. According to him, the state government would leave no stone unturned to ensure that officials caught sabotaging the scheme are dealt with within the ambit of the law.
“We all know that in Nigeria, people will always find ways to shortchange the system, so we need to get information from where all this is happening through the help of the press to allow the agency in charge to verify, and those found wanting will be dealt with,” Makusidi said.
He also urged WikkiTimes to help expose any fraudulent conduct in the state’s health sector.
His words: “Oversight functions are put in place by the Niger State Ministry of Health and other agencies in the state to checkmate any illegal or fraudulent activities in the scheme.
“Out of over 2000 accredited PHCs in Niger State, 303 have been enrolled on the BHCPF, and 274 have started receiving their funds directly from the Central Bank.”
ABOUT THE REPORT
The WikkiTimes’ investigation jointly sponsored by the International Budget Partnership and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), was aimed at investigating the utilisation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and Midwives Service Scheme in the focal states including Niger, Nasarawa, Kano, Jigawa, Uyo among others.
However, 24 journalists were selected from the focal states and they were given specific areas of focus. In the case of WikkiTimes’reporter, he was mandated to beam his searchlights on Bosso, Shiroro and Suleja local councils in Niger State.