Senate condemns $200 m loan to buy nets

By Haruna Salami

The Senate has roundly condemned the proposal by the Federal Ministry of Health to borrow 200
million dollars under the Malaria programme to buy mosquito nets in the 2022 budget.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Gershon Bassey made the condemnation
during budget defence of the Federal Ministry of Health and some agencies under it on Tuesday.
Senator Bassey, after listening to the Permanent Secretary, Mahmuda Mamman, simply said “you can
see now we have issues, serious one”.
The Committee was of the view that Malaria does not require the country borrowing $200 million.

“Give us your total needs and see if our local resources are not enough before you borrow” adding, “tell
us what you used your budget for first”.
The explanation by the Executive Director, National Primary Heal Care Development Agency, NPHCDA,
Dr. Faisal Shuaib that the $200 million would be used to import mosquito nets and encourage local
production of same did not appease the senators.
Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, himself a medical doctor said the whole idea of borrowing the money from
World Bank is “money and job for the boys” by somebody in Washington DC.
He said most of these are services provided at the lower level (state and local government.

Another thorny issue was Covid-19 preparedness and response project, Cod – Pre 1 & 2, which initially
made an application for $100 million under the 2018 – 2020 external borrowing plan which documents
were submitted by the former DG, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
The new DG, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa who was at the budget defence on his second day in office had a tough
time defending it.

Dr. Adetifa said the second Covid-19 emergency response went for additional $400 million, which was
coming to NCDC for the purchase of vaccines.
This again did not go down well with the Committee members. Senator Oloriegbe observed that
domestic resources allocated to NCDC are huge and wondered “why borrow $400 million from the
World Bank?
He wanted to know if NCDC does real costing and reconciled it’s figures with National Primary
Healthcare Development Agency, NPHDA
The Committee also queried why the money for vaccine was under NCDC and not NPHCDA, which has
the legal, structural and technical know how to handle the issue.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health who represented the Minister of Health tried to
explain that one is “National Steering Committee” and the other “Technical Committee”, but that did
not move the senators either.

The Chairman of the Committee, Gershon Bassey directed the Health team to go back and put things in
order and report back before Friday.