In light of the changes we have seen in the way the average person regards an effective healthcare sector, and how we now all manage our day-to-day activities due to the pandemic, it is important to keep talking about the state of the Nigerian healthcare system and the lackadaisical attitude our government officials have towards it.
Perhaps it is time to come up with a notion: elected officials, as a prerequisite for putting themselves forward for nomination, must sign a contract that they and their immediate family members will have their healthcare needs solely within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This may prompt them to modernize existing facilities for this purpose or invite internationally acclaimed medical persons to work on them within the federation, but they will not be legally allowed to fly out of the country to seek medical attention in another country. In instances where internationally acclaimed healthcare professionals are flown in for specific tasks, locally trained doctors will be able to work alongside such persons, thus adding to their fundamental medical training. Any breach of this agreement will be a fundamental breach and thus grounds for removal from office. This law would only be applicable to elected officials, who ‘voluntarily’ offer themselves for a political position.
I believe that if this were the case, elected officials would be mandated to address the anomalies the average Nigerian is currently experiencing with regards to the Nigerian healthcare sector. When I shared this idea, some people agreed that it was a simplistic approach. Others lamented that the powers that be will never allow for such a law to come into force. However, this has not stopped it from playing in my mind.
I also agree that mandating elected officials and their immediate families to have their healthcare in Nigeria, irrespective of a pandemic or the associated worldwide travel restrictions, is very simple and can be easily implemented.
In the wake of the pandemic-related travel restrictions and the subsequent passing of the former Chief-of-Staff, a former Oyo State Governor, and some other notable politicians, we have seen the importance of having a good national healthcare system. Previously, they would have been immediately flown abroad to receive the necessary treatment required. Unfortunately, due to international travel restrictions, these people were subjected to the ‘best’ health facilities Nigeria has to offer and died as a result.
I cannot imagine President Donald Trump going to the United Kingdom to receive medical treatment, or Prime Minister Boris Johnson going to the United States of America to have a medical checkup. Yet, Nigerian politicians seem to have normalized foreign travel excursions, and this is to the detriment of the average Nigerian citizen.
But what if Nigerian elected officials had been mandated to use the nations health facilities for the last 10 years, how different would Nigeria’s response to the pandemic have been? Would this have forced our senators and governors to critically address the dire state of the nation’s health facilities? Or would things be exactly as they are now? I cannot help but ponder on this.