Africa Asia Middle East Français Português Subscribe IRIN Site Map
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
 Thursday 04 October 2007
Weekly reports 
In-Depth reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Really Simple Syndication Feeds 
About PlusNews 
Contact PlusNews 
Print report
NIGERIA: What has Yar'Adua done for basic services?

Photo: Dulue Mbachu/IRIN
Slum housing in the Ebute Metta district of Lagos
LAGOS, 26 September 2007 (IRIN) - Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua recently declared the energy crisis a national emergency, but aid groups say he should also declare a state of emergency in the health service.

"So far there is no evidence the government will act quickly to bring succour to the poor," said Osita Ezechukwu, a volunteer at the anti-poverty group Social Rights Initiative.

In his inauguration speech on 29 May Yar'Adua included in his seven-point agenda a goal to alleviate widespread poverty. Yet four months on, details of how he will do this remain sketchy.

Civil society groups are calling for President Yar'Adua to make commitments to provide basic services.

Focus on oil

Yar’Adua told a delegation of Nigerian political leaders on 19 September: "We are very concerned about how other Nigerians live and will try very hard to evolve and implement policies and programmes to solve the problems of unemployment, poverty and disease.”

But he has also made it clear that rehabilitating the transport and electricity sectors is a priority, saying that the sectors’ current state of decay has “resulted in [a] lower quality of life for the majority of our population”.

Yar’Adua has frequently said he will make Nigeria one of the world's 20 biggest economies through better management of energy resources, improved security, reform of land laws and rule of law, and a resolution of the Niger Delta unrest.

On 17 August Yar'Adua declared the country's power crisis a national emergency. To deal with chronic shortages he said he would go ahead with the initiative of his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, to break up the old power monopoly and bring in private investors to boost power generation.

Yar'Adua also announced the formation of a National Energy Council under his direct control and the breaking up of the Petroleum Ministry into departments for power, oil and gas, each headed by a cabinet-rank official who will report to him directly.

Health project ditched

But he has had far less to say about how he will provide basic services to the poor. Despite Nigeria’s being a top oil producer with huge mineral wealth, around two-thirds of the country’s 140 million people live below the poverty line. Life expectancy at birth is just 44 years and one in five children does not live beyond the age of five.

Aid workers were shocked when Yar’Adua recently announced he would suspend a project initiated by President Obasanjo to construct a modern health centre in each of the country's 774 local council districts. Obasanjo had called it an emergency response to the lack of access to health facilities in rural communities.

The government determined that the health centres project was unconstitutional because it would have federal government taking funds allocated to local councils. But health officials have criticised Yar’Adua’s decision, saying that he fails to recognise that the healthcare system is in crisis.

"Our maternal mortality is one of the highest in the world; our infant mortality and life expectancy [are] embarrassing," said Daniel Gana, president of the Nigerian Medical Association. "But surprisingly our president has not declared a health emergency and is not intending to do so."


Theme(s): (IRIN) Aid Policy, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Governance


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:

Submit your request
 More on Nigeria
NIGERIA: Polio vaccine back in the headlines
NIGERIA: President halts privatisation of Unity Schools
AFRICA: Food production to halve by 2020
WEST AFRICA: Flood damage pushes back school term for millions
WEST AFRICA: IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 394 for 15 - 21 September 2007
 More on Early Warning
UGANDA: New Marburg fever case confirmed
DRC: Troop build-up in North Kivu worrying - UN official
AFRICA: La Niña: Worst is yet to come, warn climatologists
YEMEN-HORN OF AFRICA: Worries over increasing African exodus to Yemen
SOMALIA: Malnutrition stalks once fertile region
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Radio | Film & TV | Photo | E-mail subscription
Feedback · E-mail Webmaster · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Bookmark PlusNews · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.