Members of the House of Representatives, the federal government and stakeholders in the healthcare sector have thrown their weight behind the proposed Federal University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bida in Niger state.
The stakeholders took the decision at the public hearing organised by the House committee on health institutions in Abuja on the bill for an act to establish the university and four other bills.
Presenting the bill, the sponsor and vice chairman of the House committee on finance, Saidu Abdullahi, lamemted that Niger is the only state in the North-Central that has no degree awarding institution in medicine and health sciences.
He said this was unacceptable considering the strategic importance of Niger state in the scheme of events in the country.
“Aside being the largest state in the country with 76,363 Square Kilometres, accounting for about 10 percent of the nation’s total land mass, Niger state is home to Nigeria’s major hydroelectric power stations, the Kainji Dam, Shiroro Dam, and Jebba Dam as well as the Zungeru Dam, which is currently under construction.
He said “The overall objective of this bill is to secure a national mandate to teach and train high calibre health-care professionals, provide healthcare services and to operate various schools and specialties that offer exemplary training and quality research in health care.
According to him, the state has the highest under 5 mortality in the north central geo-political zone of Nigeria and above the national average of 128 deaths per 1000 live births.
The minister for health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire supported the bill but said the nation has to develop the entire healthcare chain.
He said there should be at least one primary healthcare in every council ward and one general hospital in every local government adding that the priority of the federal government was to build primary and secondary healthcare centers and rebuild tertiary health institutions for optimal performance.
While declaring the hearing opened, the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by the deputy chief whip, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, noted that public hearings are an important part of the legislative process and an exercise in collaborative governance, allowing citizens and stakeholders to contribute their experience and perspective to the legislative process and ensure that legislative outcomes reflect the concerns and expectations of the greatest number of our nation’s citizens.
In his submission, JAMB registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyode said universities should be established in collaboration with the NUC and federal ministry of education.
Other stakeholders who presented memoranda at the hearing include former information minister, Prof. Jerry Gana.