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For every Government to effectively deliver its intention to its people there is the need for a “Budget”.

A budget can simply be defined as an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. The budget document and by extension the annual audit report of Government, are really “the people’s document”. They are meant to provide a binding statement of intent and an accountability instrument to citizens of Government’s stewardship.

A key component of the budget is the capital budget which provides the resources to achieve key existing, on-going as well as new projects. Through a greater understanding of this, citizens are better able to see how Government’s resources are being deployed, advocate for the completion of abandoned capital projects and support the process of avoiding duplication, as well as connect with the tangible efforts of government to deliver services.

Against this backdrop, we at Basic Rights Watch had the opportunity of attending a one day workshop on reviewing the 2018 Budget focusing on Maternal, New Born and Child Health (MNCH). A program organized by Center for Social Justice, an Abuja based Non-Governmental Organization.

The first session of the workshop was conducted by the Team Lead of Center for Social Justice Mr. Eze Onyekpere who gave a synopsis of the 2018 budget focusing on health budget.

The total sum allocated to health in the 2018 budget is N340.456 billion, out of a total national budget of N8.612 trillion. This sum represents just 3.95% of the total budget. When compared to the 2017 health budget, which was an aggregate sum of N308.464billion being 4.15% of the 2017 federal budget; the Federal Government has clearly put the health sector in the reverse gear.

The 2018 budget shows that the health vote is insufficient to meet the needs of the sector. The Federal Government is not using the maximum of available resources for the progressive realization of the right to health. The right to health is inextricably linked to the right to life and the easiest way of depriving a person of his life is to deny him of health supporting conditions to the point of abrogation.

Mr. Eze ended the session by recommending that there should be reduction from some frivolous budget to add up to the health sector.

Moving on from there, the second session was taken by an economic expert who took his time to lecture on us the state of Maternal, New Born and Child Health in Nigeria, stating that less than 5% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not reach their 5th birthday as a result of poor access to adequate health care services. Therefore there is an urgent need to pay more attention the MNCH through accelerated reduction of maternal mortality, improved family planning and advancing adolescent health care in Nigeria.

The workshop ended with participants being divided into groups and assigned the task of studying the MNCH trajectory and coming up with recommendations for onward submission to the National Assembly.

This workshop is a great asset to us at Basic Rights Watch especially with health as a key thematic area of focus. The knowledge acquired can be replicated in other areas of focus such as education and water resources with a view to pointing out areas that needs redress because the role of education in National Development can never be underestimated.

Eunice Enoch is a Program Assistant at Basic Rights Watch

Follow here @EuniceEnoch1

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