…vows to storm NASS with corpses of HIV patients
By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA—The Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWHAN, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to assent the recently passed budget until the National Assembly replaced items it tempered with.
The N14 billion budget proposed by the executive for HIV/AIDS treatment in 2016 was pruned down to N800 million by the legislators.
The group queried the rationale behind the reduction of the budget to provide drugs for the about 3.5 million patients living with the virus, while it could conveniently approve over N3 billion to buy cars for itself.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, yesterday, NEPWHAN National Coordinator, Mr. Victor Omoshehin, said it was appalling that the legislators could so afford to toy with lives of the Nigerians, especially the young ones living with HIV/AIDS.
He argued that ‘’when you cut down the cost that can give them access to life-saving therapy, it is as if you are unplugging the support oxygen, saying, ‘let them die if they want to die.’ That is what they have just done with the budget.”
He called on President Buhari not to assent the budget unless the members of NASS undid the wrongs in the budget.
“ The President should not assent to the bill because the peoples concern have not been addressed. President Muhammadu Buhari should not sign this budget that the national assembly has made provision of N3.6 billion to buy exotic cars while they just allocate N1.5 billion to care for people living with HIV.
“We cannot continue to depend on partners. We are Nigerians and not Americans. We pay our taxes to the federal and state governments of Nigeria. So Nigerian government should take responsibility of the people living with HIV in the country.”
He said the people placed on treatment might not be able to receive treatment, adding that this would lead to their death.
“We are going to storm the National Assembly with the corpses of HIV patients; we will demonstrate because with this budget, people living with HIV will no longer have access to treatment, care and support, and a lot of people will die.”