Akinwumi Adesina: Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty

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Akinwumi Adesina

By Abankula

President of African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina said Nigerians should not be poor with the abundant natural resources that Nigeria is endowed with.

“Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty”, he said at a convocation lecture at American University of Nigeria(AUN) in Yola, Adamawa state..

“For all the abundant wealth of natural resources, Nigeria’s poverty situation is unacceptable”, Adesina said.

“Today, sadly, there are way too many poor people in Nigeria. The Government is implementing bold social programs to reduce the number of poor, through interventionist programs, but the fact of the matter is poverty is not just about money.

“There is poverty of health, and yet we know that health is wealth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the weaknesses of Nigeria’s health care systems. From diagnostic and testing centers, access to vaccines, and hospital infrastructure, the health care systems were overwhelmed.

“I commend the spirited efforts of the Federal and State governments, and the private sector, in mobilizing resources to tackle the pandemic.

“The African Development Bank provided $288.5 million to support the efforts of the Nigerian government in responding to the pandemic.

“But we must go further. Nigeria must manufacture vaccines locally.

“There is a lot to change to secure the health of the population.

“Less than 5% of the population have access to insurance with the National Health Insurance Service. Over 90% of Nigerians have no health insurance.

“You can see the effects on the lives of people.

“Nigerians are not living long compared to other countries. Life expectancy in Nigeria is only 60 years (2020), compared to 70 years in India, 81 years in the UK, 80 years in the US, 82 years in Norway, and 86 years in Singapore.

“Nigeria should build a comprehensive health care defence system, to secure its population against the impacts of the current pandemic and future pandemics. There must be equal opportunities for all. Health is wealth. We must ensure that all have access to health care, regardless of the levels of income.

“And we must strongly support medical doctors, physicians, nurses and medical technologists, and remunerate them accordingly. They form the core of the health care system. We cannot have a situation where 56% of Nigeria’s medical doctors are working outside of Nigeria.

“We need to stem the tide by prioritising health of the people, and incentivising professionals in the health care system, from rural health clinics to the surgeons and physicians in secondary and tertiary health systems.

“Nigeria should put in place incentives to harness the knowledge, skills, and resources of Nigerians in the diaspora, and invest massively in building Nigeria’s health care infrastructure and systems.

“There must be accountability for better lives for all Nigerians, regardless of their levels of income.

“There cannot and should not be a Nigeria for the rich, and another Nigeria for the poor.

“We must build one Nigeria, where every citizen has the right to a decent life.

“We must build a better nation.

“We must start building again, not splintering again.

“We must re-build trust, equity, and social justice, to propel strong cohesiveness as a nation”.

Adesina also spoke about the need for Nigeria to invest in its youth.