Nigeria’s Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has asked international donor agencies to patronise made-in-Nigeria goods to support the government’s self-sufficiency drive.
He said that their support through procurement of items required for the execution of their mandates in Nigeria would boost the nation’s focus to boost local production.
Senator Udoma made the request at a meeting with the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNDPA), Professor Babatunde Osotimehin and his delegation from the agency’s office in New York, at the weekend in Abuja.
He said Nigeria had the human capacity to realise the objective but needed support and patronage to drive the process.
As part of plans to achieve self-sufficiency, the Minister said the government was focusing on encouraging small and medium scale industries and promoting made-in-Nigeria goods because there was a lot of scope for production and expansion.
“It is important that we support them and patronise them and help them improve on the quality of goods produced in Nigeria,” Senator Udoma stated.
A statement by a spokesman for the Minister, Akpandem James, said that the Minister told the delegation that there was no reason Nigeria could not manufacture most of the drugs and other medical accessories needed in the treatment and control of maternal mortality and other related medical conditions. He stressed that Nigeria would appreciate assistance more in the area of production of those materials locally.
While thanking the donors for their continued contributions to improving healthcare in Nigeria, he asked them to consider sourcing as much as possible, locally, so as to support local manufacturers.
“Over time, with local sourcing, Nigeria can achieve self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on development partners for assistance.
“The government places premium on the country’s human capital which is also a veritable wealth resource and its policies seek to promote the development of human capacity with focus on good health, which is an important aspect of the human capacity index,” he stated.
The Minister pledged his Ministry’s readiness to work with international development partners and other relevant Departments and Agencies within the country towards reducing the rate of maternal and infant mortality in the country.
Professor Osotimehin had informed the Minister that while Nigeria’s population was about two per cent of the world’s population, the country accounted for about ten per cent of the global maternal mortality ratio, a statistic the Minister described as alarming and unacceptable.
“We will certainly support all the initiatives aimed at reducing the figures. We will certainly work with you in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to bring that number down,” he said.
The Minister said that although the government was going through difficult times financially, the health of its citizens could not be compromised; which is why it would appreciate every assistance from development partners to ensure the situation was speedily arrested.
“It would also be given serious consideration in the 2017 budget.
“In terms of the budget, luckily we are on it right now, so we’ll see what we can do in that direction; but I think that it will continue to be helpful, and useful, to receive external support because, given the country’s current economic circumstances, resources are very limited.
“Ultimately, our aim will be to achieve self-sufficiency, but in the short term, we will continue to need resources from your organisation, as well as those of other donors,” he stated.
He expressed government’s gratitude to the UNPFA and other development partners for their developmental activities in Nigeria to promote universal access to sexual and reproductive health, promote reproductive rights to reduce maternal mortality and accelerate progress towards the achievement of ICPD’s Declaration for sustainable growth.
Uncontrolled Reproduction Regime
Professor Osotimehin, who was also accompanied by officials from DFID and USAID, was worried that the population of Nigeria was growing uncontrollably, with health facilities being overstretched, a development he pointed out had led to avoidable deaths, particularly birth-related incidences.
He said the uncontrolled reproduction regime also fosters the alarming rate of maternal mortality, a development he said should be arrested immediately if the country was to see meaningful and sustainable growth and development.
Uncontrolled population growth, he said, was not just a social issue but a very serious economic problem, because uncontrolled population growth and maternal deaths add up to the financial burden of the society and by extension the national economy.
The UNDPA Director suggested immediate provision of universal access to information that would allow women make choices about how they want to live their lives and how many children a family should conveniently have for health and economic reasons.
Efforts, he said, should be made to significantly improve the supply-chain system that would ensure that provisions made for health purposes reach the last man in the form intended.
While appreciating that there are moral and cultural obstacles, Professor Osotimehim said those in positions of authority should try as much as possible to educate the people on the health and economic implications of uncontrolled child-bearing.