The newly inaugurated Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has failed to recognise education and health sectors as parts of the areas that need ultimate attention.
The president today gave his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square, Abuja, as the 16th president of the country.
However, the president’s speech does not cover some key issues plaguing the country.
In his first speech, he had prioritized issues including security, economy, fuel subsidy and monetary policy. But ignored core sectors including education and health.
In the speech, Tinubu has only referenced education while speaking of fuel subsidy, saying: “We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favored the rich more than the poor Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of trying resources We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.”
Tinubu had earlier pledged to put an end to the incessant industrial strike action undertaken by the Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU).
Tinubu made the pledge during his presidential campaign at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, the Imo State capital in February.
“There will no longer be ASUU strikes in Nigeria. All courses will be finished as and when due. For instance, all courses slated for four years will be finished at the end of the four years in the university,” he said.
UNENDING ASUU STRIKE
Education in the previous administration had suffered a massive setback, especially the unending industrial strike action by members of ASUU, due to failure of the government to fulfill some promises.
ASUU had embarked on 16 strikes in 23 years, according to a Punch report. The association among other issues had accused the federal government of failing to implement the Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Action signed between the union and the government.
It also lamented the government’s poor commitment to the payment of academic earned allowances ; the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution, and proliferation of the universities in the country.
In August 2017, ASUU declared an indefinite strike over unresolved and contentious issues with the Federal Government, which was called in September.
In 2018, ASUU observed a three-month nationwide strike in November as a result of the Government’s inaction. However, after a meeting between the union and the former Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige,the strike was called off.
In one of the longest strike periods, the union in 2020 embarked on a two-week warning strike, due to the failure of the Federal Government to implement its 2019 agreement and resolution with the union.
This strike carried on for over 9 months due to the Covid19 pandemic and the negligence of the government to the academic body. It was eventually called off in December 2020.
In February 2022, academic activities were once again suspended across universities in the country, which marked another strike that lasted until October, 2022.
THE HEALTH SECTOR
One of the sectors that has also suffered setbacks from the previous administration is the health sector.
The former president, Muhamadu Buhari had in the past promised that a fund would be set up to ensure coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission. But this has not been actualized, and now over 70 percent of healthcare delivery in Nigeria is through the private sector.
The country had also suffered a massive migration of health workers, especially nurses and doctors to various countries abroad.
Not less than 75,000 Nigerian nurses and midwives relocated abroad in five years and 11,273 doctors have relocated to the United Kingdom.
According to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Nigeria currently has a doctor-to-population ratio of about one to 10,000, a statistics below the World Health Organisation recommendation of one to 600.
These factors among several others, had posed the health sector in a dire place, a situation which needs to be addressed.