By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—AS part of activities to mark this year’s World Polio Day, the Senate said, yesterday, it had concluded arrangements to probe over $420 million donations to Nigeria by international aid donors and organizations to help stop wild polio transmission in the country.
The Senate also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, members of the Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication and governors of the 36 states of the federation to urgently convene a meeting to brainstorm on how to get Nigeria back on track to achieve a polio- free status.
It equally called for a review of the Abuja commitment indicators to ascertain where the country was doing well and where it was not.
Addressing journalists in Abuja to mark this year’s World Polio Day, Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP, Abia North, noted that the probe became imperative to ensure that donor funds to Nigeria for the eradication of Polio were well spent.
According to him, the Senate will engage international donor agencies to ensure that mistakes of the past were avoided and that the funds from them were used judiciously.
Senator Ohuabunwa, who noted that the Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases would carry out the holistic probe, said a country must work hard to regain the trust of all donors, bilateral and multilateral partners.
He said the Senate would beam its search light on the recent disbursement of $1.5 million to 36 states as first tranche of funding under the Saving One Million Lives Programme For Results, SOMLPFor R.
Ohuabunwa, who hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Ministers of Health, major stakeholders, donors and Nigeria for a significant milestone in the elimination of polio in the country, said that in the course of probing the activities of states with regard to the $1.5 million, the upper chambers would ensure that only states that performed to standard would get more funding.
He said: “We want to reassure all donors and partners of our resolve to ensure donor funds are also well spent and that they reach the masses that need them.
‘’Key funding agencies as Global Fund, GAVI and several others will be engaged by my committee to ensure mistakes of the past are avoided and that funds from these donors are used judiciously.”
‘’We cannot afford mistakes of the past where funds for developmental projects from donors are improperly managed, leading to sanctions on Nigeria from these donors.
‘’We cannot continue to be disgraced as a nation through mismanagement of donor funds and must work hard to gain or regain the trust of all donors, bilateral and multilateral partners.
“The Committee is also currently studying the Midwifes Service Scheme, MSS, to determine whether it should be scaled up or not. This will be based on the reality of Nigeria’s economic situation as well as the need to align with the FG’s plan of making 10,000 Primary Health Care Centers functional.
“Indeed, our nation has achieved significant milestone in the elimination of polio in our country and we will continue to push ahead.
“From July 24, 2014, till August, 2016, Nigeria had no case of Wild Polio Virus, WPV, until August 10, 2016, when two cases were detected in Jere and Gwoza LGAs of Bomo State, where insurgency has made it impossible to reach children with Iife-saving immunization and other important health care services, including food, shelter and other necessary amenities.
Some of the national and international organizations that have contributed and are still contributing to the eradication of polio in Nigeria under the platform of Global Polio Eradication Initiative, GPEI, include, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organisation, WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rotary International.