No fewer than 3,000 indigenes of Rumuobiokani, Rumuezeolu, Oginigba and Rumuomasi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State are now proud beneficiaries of the first ever community health insurance scheme in Nigeria.
In addition, more than 3,000 registered indigenes of the four communities for the insurance scheme have also received insecticide-treated bed nets to protect them from the scourge of mosquitoes.
Another 1,000 indigenes and over 10,000 non-indigenes are expected to further benefit from the novel scheme, which is expected to cover more than 15,000 persons.
Launched last Thursday at the Obio Cottage Hospital in Rumuobiokani by the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker, the scheme is the pilot initiative of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) Industrial Area Cluster Development Board (IACDB) as part of the implementation of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) template in the area.
Speaking at the scheme launch, Parker lauded Shell and the IACDB for bringing the dream of a community health insurance scheme to concrete reality, adding that the Chibuike Amaechi administration’s policy of building 150 primary healthcare centres across the 23 LGAs was to entrench community ownership, participation, utilization and management in the provision of quality, accessible and affordable healthcare delivery to the people.
The commissioner noted that for the people to benefit maximally from the services available at the health centres, they must be incorporated as proud owners and managers of the facilities, stressing that if the ordinary people were allowed to key into their programmes, a more healthy people will populate the society.
He commended SPDC for providing the seed funds, technical equipment, medical consumables and guidance, as well as the IACDB for setting aside 13.15 per cent of its annual GMoU receipts to fund the scheme, adding that the writing off of 50 per cent on the premium payable by indigenes shows a worthy commitment of the IACDB to improve the healthcare needs of the citizenry.
Parker restated the preparedness of the government to partner SPDC and the IACDB to sustain the momentum, widen the scope of beneficiaries, and maintain quality healthcare service delivery for the people of the cluster.
In his address, Managing Director, SPDC, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, noted that as the first community-based health insurance programme in Nigeria involving the private sector, government and impacted communities, Shell was proud to be part of the effort to deliver guaranteed healthcare services that would improve and save lives in host communities.
Sunmonu expressed delight that the GMoU as a tool for empowering the people, has brought about good and accessible healthcare, which would fast track development of the area, saying that with the CHIS, thousands will now have access to comprehensive healthcare insurance coverage for curative and preventive medical treatment.
Also speaking, Regional Community Health Manager, SPDC, Dr Babatunde Fakunle, said the linkage between health, poverty, prosperity and development could not be underestimated, stressing that “users of the Obio Health Insurance Scheme now have the option of purchasing care through this model instead of the ‘fee for service’ strategy”.
Emphasising that SPDC directly supports 27 health facilities in six states in the Niger Delta, Fakunle said that the scheme would eliminate out of pocket expenses for healthcare, ensure equitable access to quality-assured healthcare systems and infrastructures, check poverty as a barrier to receiving healthcare and create an environment populated by healthy and prosperous people, among others.
In his goodwill message, Chairman, Obio/Akpor LGA, Prince Timothy Nsirim, who was represented by his Vice, Hon Solomon Eke, said as an offshoot of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), he was elated that the scheme has been first launched in his LGA, and assured that the council will leverage on the CHIS at Obio Cottage Hospital in the efforts to deliver quality healthcare services to the people in the nine other health centres.
Earlier, Chairman, IACDB, Chief Joseph Amadi, had said the scheme has a kick-off funding of N24.2million, which offsets 50 per cent premium payable by beneficiaries, adding that while indigenes will pay N3,600 each per annum or N300 per month, a family of six would pay N20,880 per annum or N1,740 per month.
Amadi further stated that non-indigenes were expected to pay full premium of N7,200 each per annum or N600 per month while a family of six would pay N41,760 per annum or N3,480 per month.
Stakeholders Want Policies To Harness Gas Resources
An earlier plan by the defunct Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to equalise the consumption of gas, especially Liquefied Petroleum Gas may no longer fly as the government said subsidising the transport cost of the commodity in the face of a liberal market may not work.
This is just as stakeholders were demanding for deliberate policies that would enable the country to harness gas resources to benefit from the global energy transition agenda.
While the defunct PEF had disclosed earlier this year that a scheme to pay for the transportation of gas as part of an effort to encourage the use of cooking gas in homes across the country was being considered, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said such a move may be unnecessary.
Executive Director, Distribution System, Storage and Retail Infrastructure at NMDPRA, Ogbugo Ukoha said although Nigeria has gas in large quantities, bottlenecks undermine realisation of full potential.
Speaking in Abuja recently on equalisation for gas, Uhoha said: “the Act provides for liberalisation. We can’t set prices, we can’t equalise it.”
According to him, the market would stabilise at some point and deal with prevailing issues. The Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), headed by Abdulrazaq Isa, has also noted the right policies were necessary if Nigeria would benefit from its gas resources.
Stressing on the evolving industry landscape, ongoing industry reforms, IOCs’ divestment, and the role indigenous exploration and production companies can play in this new era in guaranteeing the nation’s energy security, Isa said: “Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in view of the global energy transition agenda. Natural gas should be considered as a transition fuel with deliberate policies formulated to attract investment into the sector.”
While noting that the PIA enactment will set a solid growth foundation for the entire industry, the IPPG Chairman said it was imperative that effective regulations are formulated to derive the full benefits of the Act.
According to Isa, ‘’industry-wide consultation in the enactment of regulations is required to promote inclusivity and ensure robustness of regulations’’.
The IPPG Chairman also identified key challenges being faced by the industry in the areas of security, funding, high operating costs, lengthy contract cycle, amongst others.
’’We look forward to collaborating with the NUPRC in finding long lasting and sustainable solutions to these challenges,’’ Isa said.
Obasanjo Makes Case For Renewable Energy For Power Generation
Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the country to embrace renewable energy for power generation.
Obasanjo, who led the country as military Head of State between 1975 and 1979 and civilian President from 1999 to 2007, made the call, last Friday at the inauguration of a two megawatts, MW, solar power project at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital,
He said solar energy is remarkably cost effective as it costs less than two and half years’ supply of diesel to power the generators at the Library and that the project marks one of the enduring personal legacies he is proud to call his own.
“Today, I am speaking to you in a facility powered by the sun – solar energy. It is the way of a future Carter envisioned all those years ago. It will help build the future we want. The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library solar power project is a reflection of our commitment to clean and renewable energy and is the single largest investment this not-for-profit organization has made.
“As large an investment as it is, it is remarkably cost effective. It costs less than two and half years supply of diesel to power our generators. So in diesel terms it pays for itself in less than 3years. So in effect the electricity it produces after three years is almost at no cost,” Obasanjo said.
He noted that solar energy does not emit any green house gases that diesel generators do, and that, as such, it has the potential to earn carbon credits which are currently priced at US$40 per ton.
He added: “Based on estimated annual production of 2,307,000 kilo Watt hours per year, we can expect to earn nearly US$39,589 in carbon credits per year.
“By monetising this facility with strategic sponsorships and marketing alliances we will be able to generate revenue.
“Combined, this solar facility can generate electricity, generate revenues that contribute to the upkeep of the library, help save the planet making a small contribution to climate mitigation and adaptation, provide shade for parking, and be an inspiration for future generations. Who says you can’t make a profit out of saving the planet?”
CSOs To Hold Confab On Fuel Subsidy Removal
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria operating under the aegis of Civil Society Coalition for Economic Development (CED), on Thursday, said plans were afoot to organise a conference on ‘Fuel subsidy removal’ in Nigeria.
The coalition, which comprised 82 groups, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, stressing that they were committed to pushing for subsidy removal as well as engaging other stakeholders in some sectors of the economy to see reasons with the government on the need to lay fuel subsidy payment to rest.
The convener of the group, Comrade Yusuf Dan Maitama, further said that the proposed theme of the conference is “Subsidy removal and the Future of Nigeria’s Economy,” adding that there was no better time for the total removal of fuel subsidy than now given the economic challenges the nation is going through.
According to the coalition, the conference which is slated for Tuesday and Wednesday next week will take place in Abuja and Lagos, featuring world-class resource persons in the oil and gas sector in order to refocus activities of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and to secure the nation’s resources for its critical mass rather than private pocket benefactors.
The coalition lamented that the fuel subsidy regime which had been in place for the past 20 years, has enriched a few individuals and denied citizens of what was supposed to be a collective wealth, adding that moves by the present administration to end the subsidy regime were the right step.
Citing further reasons for the conference, the coalition posited that the Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s commitment to implementing a policy that ensures total removal of subsidy should be supported by all.
“The fuel subsidy regime has in the last 20 years done more harm than good to the economy of the nation and it appears Nigeria is the only country in the world that has a fuel subsidy regime in place.
“We have slated a conference for Tuesday and Wednesday, 2022 and we are going to assemble top class oil experts to speak on reasons fuel subsidy regime should be put to rest,” the group said.
Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had a few days ago disclosed to the Senate Committee on Finance that the Federal government would offer a N5,000 transportation grant to poor Nigerians to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal in 2022.
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