PENGASSAN seeks ban on foreign medical tourism for public officials - AMEBO NEWSPAPERS NG.


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PENGASSAN seeks ban on foreign medical tourism for public officials

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The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), has demanded the ban of public officials from seeking medical care abroad in order to encourage investment in the country’s health care system  by incoming administration.

In response to a reported impending food crisis in the country, PENGASSAN stated that it expects that Federal  Government to declare an emergency in the agriculture and food sectors and to establish farm settlements across all states of the federation to convert teeming unemployed youths energies into productive ventures.

PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, stated these at the Association’s 7th Triennial National Delegate’s Conference held Thursday in Abuja.

Osifo urged the incoming administration to fasttrack the implementation of different sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to the benefit of Nigerians.

According to him, “The provision of the Act that will further deepen the development of the midstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry should be aggressively implemented. This will lead to the provision of gas infrastructure that will in turn aid gas development and help in harnessing the vast gas reserves in the country.

“We warn that the implementation of the PIA must not be made to pass through arm- twisting tactical bureaucratic monsters that bedeviled the PIB. The Host Community Development fund and trust should be immediately constituted.

Speaking on medical tourism among government officials, he said: “In spite our levels of development we are still at very low ebb in terms of the provisions of medical facilities at all levels of government thereby encouraging high rate of medical tourism and foreign exchange outflows. We therefore expect fair-minded National Assembly members to initiate the process of criminalising foreign medical treatment with public funds especially among political and public office holders. Put medical infrastructures and commensurate remuneration in place to discourage the high rate of emigration of medical personal, while offering incentives for those outside the country to return home”.

Meanwhile, as days for the handing over to the new government gets closer, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has listed catalogue of challenges the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Government may contend with, to include huge debt, dearth of new investors among others.

Others according to the union, will cut across equity servicing challenges, operation and maintenance barriers, poor credit rating and poor business viability image to investors.

These the union emphasised will thwart electricity improvement under the Tinubu’s administration,

PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, speaking yesterday at the union’s 7th Triennial National Delegates’ Conference in Abuja, said although electricity is considered a major determinant of economic development, attaining this has remained a problem, especially on the backdrop of a flawed privatization exercise.

He declared that the dismal outlook of the power sector may not change in 2023 or any time soon.

He also noted that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has not improved the electricity supply to homes and industries during its eight years tenure, which has remained at 4,500 megawatts.

"Averaging 4,500 megawatts in the past eight years, Nigerians looking forward to improved electricity supply may continue to wait as inherent challenges may stall power generation,” he said.

The PENGASSAN President stated that the worsening exchange rate crisis in the country would also drastically impede the sector as the majority of tools and equipment used in the sector are dollar based.

He said, “Amid increasing blackouts, the hapless consumer is made to pay for the inefficiency of the operators and the regulator.”

The union also urged the incoming government to adopt the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) model to run the nation’s four refineries upon completion.

“The incoming government must do all within its reach to see to the conclusion of the current rehabilitation effort and initiatives that are currently in place so that our nation’s refinery will come up in no time,” he added.

While decrying the parlous state of the economy, Osifo stressed that Nigerians have hoped for a prosperous country with a steady growth of its GDP, increase access to employment and diversification of the economy but unfortunately, this is yet to be achieved more than six decades after independence.

The PENGASSAN leader declared that poor implementation of both fiscal and monetary policies and policy inconsistencies have continued to militate against Nigeria’s projected growth and development as a nation.

He further observed that rather than pursue growth and increased shared prosperity, the Buhari administration has put Nigeria’s current debt profile, as of the first quarter of 2023, in a quagmire that may take several generations to repay.

“The nation’s economy is confronted with many serious challenges like structural imbalance, corruption, weak human capital development, inequality, security challenges and excessive dependence on oil for revenue,” he stated.

Osifo added that Another critical area Tinubu must be decisive is the multiple exchange regime.

"Efforts must be made by the incoming administration to address the issues of multiple exchange rates as the arbitrage created is negatively affecting our economy,” Osifo stated.

Osifo stressed the urgent need for the government to diversify the sources of revenue away from oil export receipts, saying, “The hard truth is that revenue from the oil and gas sector can no longer sustain us as a nation and this is the most auspicious time to walk our talk.

“The next government must put a stop to the use of ways and means in financing activities of government as this fuels inflation because it is not backed by value creation.”

On the issue of looming food crisis, Osifo noted that: “A disturbing data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has predicted that about 25.3 million people will face food insecurity across Nigeria between June and August 2023. FAO in the statement warned that if actions are not taken to avert the crisis, 4.4 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States will be grossly affected. It is a shame that despite our vast arable lands and huge human capital and financial resources, our dear country could be drawn and categorizes as being unable to feed its citizens. It is even more laughable that Nigeria is depending on food aids from countries under war situations such as Ukraine”

He further urged the new government to address the issue of insecurity, stating that Nigerians deserved to be adequately protected and that no sane investor would want to invest where the security of his investment and staff are not guaranteed.

The Union leader reiterated the association’s  advocacy for the adoption of the NLNG model in the running of the nation’s four refineries when fully revamped and the creation of an enabling environment for the establishment and operation of modular and private Refineries. 

According to him, “The incoming government must do all within its reach to see to the conclusion of the current rehabilitation effort and initiatives that is currently in place so that our nation’s refinery will come up in no time.”

He then, advised that “henceforth appointments into the top echelon of all Anti-Corruption Agencies like EFCC, ICPC and Code of Conduct Bureau be thorough, painstaking and devoid of any political consideration so that the integrity of those at the helm of affairs shall not be called to question as we have seen in recent times. The fight against corruption should not only be fought but must be seen to be fought with prosecutions and convictions with severe sanctions that will serve as a deterrence to anyone planning to toe such path.”


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