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Ban Government Officials From Foreign Medical Trip, PENGASSAN Urges

By Adaobi Rhema Oguejiofor

As a way of encouraging the incoming administration to invest in the nation’s healthcare system, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has advocated that government officials be banned from seeking medical care outside the country.

The President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, made the demand at the Association’s 7th Triennial National Delegate’s Conference, which took place in Abuja on Thursday.

Osifo, in response to a reported impending food crisis in the country, also stated that the Union expects the Federal Government to declare an emergency in the agriculture and food sector, as well as establish farm settlements across all states in the federation and channel the energies of unemployed youths into productive ventures.

He urged the incoming administration to fast track the implementation of different sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to the benefit of Nigerian citizens.

According to him, the provision of PIA that will further deepen the development of the midstream sector of the Nigerian petroleum industry should be aggressively implemented because it will lead to the provision of gas infrastructure that will in turn facilitate gas development and help in harnessing the vast gas reserves within the country.

In his own words, “we warn that the implementation of the PIA must not be made to pass through arm- twisting tactical bureaucratic monsters that bedeviled the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The Host Community Development fund and trust should be immediately constituted.”

Osifo, while speaking on medical tourism among government officials, explained that despite the levels of development Nigeria has been able to attain, the nation is still at a very low place in terms of the provision of medical facilities at all levels of government, and that this is what encourages the high rate of medical tourism and foreign exchange outflows.

“We therefore expect fair-minded National Assembly members to initiate the process of criminalizing foreign medical treatment with public funds, especially among political and public office holders, and put medical infrastructure and commensurate remuneration in place to discourage the high rate of emigration of medical personnel, while offering incentives for those outside the country to return home,” the PENGASSAN Boss concluded.