Following the November 9 election of Donald Trump as US President, Stakeholders and development partners on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) programmes in Nigeria have been reacting with mixed feelings to the possible effects of some campaign messages by the President-elect.
Rising from the 4th Nigeria Family Planning Conference 2016, organised by the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health, the partners described the election of Trump as “a wake-up call” for the Nigerian government which has for many years paid less attention to taking “ownership of some health programmes supported by donor agencies”.
Speaking on the outcome of the elections, Chairman, Association for Advancing Family Planning in Nigeria, Local Organising Chairman for the conference, Dr Ejike Oji though observes that donor aids from the Unites States of America is less than one percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), “There is the urgent need for the country to wake-up to the reality on ground. As a country regardless of whether donors are giving us money, we really need to wake-up in terms of how we do things”, says Oji.
Oji sees potential danger in continuous dependence in a mono-economy, “Rather, this is the time to look for non-oil areas and also look for accountability and transparency in running our government.
“That is was is being unleashed on our potentials and there is the need to focus on encouraging our youths, building capacities for them to be productive because that is where we can increase earnings from non-oil sector”, Oji advocates.
In his opinion, House Committee Chairman on Health in the House of Representatives, Honourable Chika Okafor, “One of the things we (the House) are trying to do is to get Mr President and indeed the presidency to go back to 2001 Abuja Declaration where minimum of 15% of National budget was supposed to be allocated to health. We are not asking for much more than that”, said Okafor.
According to the Committee chair, in ten years, the budget line for Health has not been more than 6% “In fact, in 2016, the budget dropped to 4% and if we do not shout, it will keep dwindling and we are not doing ourselves any favour”, said Okafor.
He reasons that should Trump makes real his threat to send Nigerians parking, “Let them come back and help build our economy with whatever knowledge they have acquired while in the US”.
Also, Country Director, Ipas, Nigeria Barrister Hawau Shekarau believes Nigeria is a country with potentials to develop fully in all areas of life including reproductive health and family planning if the leadership takes the right decisions, back them with adequate funding and ensure programmes are carried out with less corruption.
“Although many of the donors from the US are private and with the exception of USAID, government influence in donations to countries like Nigeria are not sufficient to send us jittery but it is still a reality that President-elect Trump may pull surprises, because he is yet to reveal his policies for overseas as the President. The coming weeks will surely show directions on where he is heading”.
Another development executive from NURHI 2 project, Olusina Olulan thinks the election of Donal Trump of the Republican Party calls for a rethink by Nigerian government on how to prioritise the social needs of the people and follow the desire to improve on living conditions.
According to Olulana, “it’s a wake-up call for us to go back to the drawing board, take the driver’s seat to redirect and re focus attention on priorities; because Its really embarrassing that with the resources we have in this country we are still relying on donors for basic social rights and needs of the people”.
All the partners believe Nigeria unlike some other countries like Malawi can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if indeed government is committed, stakeholders play their part and the citizens continue to demand for Accountability while also ensuring their civic responsibilities.