The Nigeria Senate on Tuesday queried the plan by the federal government to secure a $200 million facility to procure mosquito nets to prevent malaria in 13 out of the 36 states of the federation.
Members of its Committee on Foreign and Local Loans led by the Chairman, Senator Clifford Ordia, were piqued when the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mahmuda Mamman, informed them that the federal government was planning to borrow $200 million to purchase mosquito nets and other ancillary medical therapies to prevent malaria.
Mamman had in his presentation during the 2022 budget defence session submitted that due to high rate of under-five mortality in Nigeria largely caused by malaria and inaccessibility to malaria treatments by residents in 13 vulnerable states in the country, the $200 million loan became very necessary .
According to him, the loan if approved by the National Assembly and accessed, would be used to medically fight malaria in the 13 orphan states which cover 208 local government Councils and 3, 536 primary health care centres.
Reacting to the Permanent Secretary’s submission, a member of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe and other members, took on the Permanent Secretary and the Executive Secretary of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
The chairman of the committee wondered why N450 million was budgeted for malaria treatment in the proposed 2022 budget and yet, plans were being made to borrow $200 million for same purpose
He said: “This is unacceptable. We should be able to put our feet down when dealing with these donor agencies or creditors as regards loans to be taken and what it should be expended on.
“Don’t we have local manufacturers of mosquito nets and malaria drugs in Nigeria to patronise with the loan even if approved?
“This is a clear case of money and jobs for the boys by creditors luring you for loans and railroading you on what it should be spent on.
“Washington or whatever creditor offering the loan , should stop giving us money with one hand and taking it back with another hand through railroaded spending”.
Other members of the committee including Senators Adelere Oriolowo and Abba Moro also faulted the Ministry for coming up with such frivolous proposal.
According to the duo, the N450million already budgeted for fighting malaria in the reported vulnerable areas was enough.
They, therefore asked the Permanent Secretary to explain how the idea was arrived at and how it would be implemented.
Responding, the Permanent Secretary said subsidiary arrangement had been made with all the states involved through signing of required agreement.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja