PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
A SPEECH DELIVERED BY
THE SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR
THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
SENATOR (DR.) ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON
ON THE OCCASION OF THE FLAG-OFF OF
THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME
AT JADA LGA
THIS DAY, SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2002.
Let me start by expressing my profound gratitude for being the Special Guest of Honour on this special occasion, the flag-off of the National Health Insurance Scheme, North-East chapter.
I am particularly delighted that today’s occasion is taking place in Jada, the hometown of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.
May I also seize the opportunity to remind you that the National Health Insurance Scheme, which has been on the drawing board for almost four decades, has become a reality. This is indeed due to the tireless efforts of the management of the National Health Insurance Scheme as well as tremendous moral and financial support from the present democratic government.
It is also pertinent to highlight that the take-off of this scheme is in line with the prevailing thrust of this administration, that is to make healthcare available, accessible and affordable to every individual and family wherever they live and work.
Furthermore, the impressive turnout of the prospective beneficiaries to this programme is a clear testimony that the good citizens of this community have recognised health as a worthwhile asset and therefore ready to invest and participate actively in the matters affecting their health. This is not surprising as I am sure we all agree that health is wealth.
I have been reliably informed that an encouraging turnout has been recorded during the first and second launching of the scheme in the North-Central and South-East zones respectively, which was conducted by the First Lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar earlier this year. I am therefore not surprised at the turn out at this occasion.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I must confess that when I read the concept and modus operandi of the National Health Insurance Programme in particular, as a democrat I was highly elated and emotionally attached to the programme. This is because the programme is based on the spirit of solidarity, mutual help and brother’s keeper and run in a democratic fashion by the elected board of trustees who are tested and trusted by the community.
This programme has further brought to the fore the good old value system that has been in our character since pre-colonial Nigeria, a period of classless society characterized by communal mode of production based on mutual help and cooperation. The pooling of resources from persons of all classes is indeed an umbrella that offers a shade for both the strong and the weak.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is important to note that today’s event is a unique one in the sense that another programme under the National Health Insurance Scheme, that is the Permanently Disabled Persons Social Health Insurance Programme being launched simultaneously with Rural Community and Children Under Five Social Health Insurance Programme.
It is indeed our responsibility to ensure that the down trodden segment of the society are cared for and given ample opportunity in order to contribute their quota towards socio-economic development of the country. The National Health Insurance Scheme no doubt provides such opportunities.
Let me hasten to add that the democratic environment certainly provides a beautiful opportunity for healthcare reactivation and development through articulation of people’s health needs by various representatives in the legislative and executive arm of government.
Mores, democracy offers an opportunity for accountability and rational allocation of resources. These are necessary ingredients for effective, efficient and realistic healthcare delivery services as can be seen from the increased allocation to health sector since the inception of this democratic dispensation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I conclude this speech, I would like to, on behalf of the National Assembly, congratulate all the members of the user group here present and those who are unavoidably absent, as you are among the pioneer beneficiaries of this laudable government programme.
Let me at this juncture emphasise that the success or failure of this laudable programme will depend largely on how it is managed. It is therefore a challenge to you the pioneer managers of this scheme to write your names in gold or be judged by posterity.