What Jonathan said about Health in his speech

2
Picture courtesy of 234Next

On Saturday, 11 September,  Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), who came into the office of the presidency accidentally declared his intention to run for President our Federal Republic in 2011. At 3:24pm, he made the declaration. “I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan have decided to humbly offer myself as a candidate in the Presidential Primaries of our great party, the PDP”. The speech went up, literarily minutes later on his Facebook page and within a few hours there were more than 2,000 comments. GEJ is quickly catching onto the emerging fact that technology, and the Internet have finally given people a voice they have not had for a long time. But in reaching out to Nigerians on the web – he must be prepared not only to speak but to listen as well.

In a speech that his team must have been working on for weeks…this is what he said his “dreams” for the health sector…

“Let the word go out that our health sector will receive maximum priority in a new Jonathan administration, a priority that will ensure maximum health care and stop our brain drain.”

“We will fight for HEALTH CARE REFORMS”

 He then ended his speech by saying….

My dear country men and women, give me your support, give me your votes and together we will fight to build a great nation of our dreams!

So ..the question is – can we be hopeful that the health sector will receive some real attention if GEJ wins the next election?. While it is impossible to make this judgement based on one speech, we will take some positive pointers from the mentioning of heath, but advocate for much more attention to the sector in the coming dispensation.

But his speech reminded me of another speech made by another presidential candidate in Nigeria. I was 14 years old in 1985, listening to my father’s radio, sharing his excitement at the emergence of a gentle Nigerian General – a certain Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as he delivered one of the most passionate speeches of any Nigerian leader. He made the now famous reference to …

“…hospitals still remain mere consulting clinics”

This ex-General went on to destroy the very fabric of Nigerian life. I watched the relative comfort of my family’s life degenerate beyond belief. As our middle class existence slipped away from us, we took solace in the promises presented by the longest transition programme in modern Africa. We lived in hope and on hope. As June 12 1993 arrived, we celebrated. We had proved the world wrong…or so we thought! We had carried out a free and fair election, we were proud…proud young Nigerians. This moment was taken away from us, by the same General – Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

Now he wants to lead us again! 

As we struggle to put health squarely on the political agenda in Nigeria, we know that it cannot be done in isolation. It has to be done in the context of good governance,  accountability, integrity and on kept promises.

In January…I will use my vote wisely, I hope you do too!

http://www.nigeriahealthwatch.com/

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (www.epiafric.com), which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. Jonathan’s speech was an inspiring one to me. I don’t know if the reason is because it is the first speech of his I have ever read. I believe there is an inherently large ocean that seperates and differentiates him from the past dictator you alluded to in your piece – his education and apparent religious faith. I am hopeful these will give him the understanding and wisdom to do the right thing globally barring the ever-present Nigerian Factor that was coined and institutionalised by that same dictator. I was particularly impressed by his realisation and articulation of the dearth of infrastructure across the board as a major stumbling block to progress.

    I pray that, should he come out tops next year, he will not just talk the talk but walk the walk.
    Ken

  2. Jonathan’s speech was an inspiring one to me. I don’t know if the reason is because it is the first speech of his I have ever read. I believe there is an inherently large ocean that seperates and differentiates him from the past dictator you alluded to in your piece – his education and apparent religious faith. I am hopeful these will give him the understanding and wisdom to do the right thing globally barring the ever-present Nigerian Factor that was coined and institutionalised by that same dictator. I was particularly impressed by his realisation and articulation of the dearth of infrastructure across the board as a major stumbling block to progress.

    I pray that, should he come out tops next year, he will not just talk the talk but walk the walk.
    Ken

Leave A Reply