President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday directed all relevant government agencies that everything humanly possible should be done to ensure that no Nigerian is left to die of HIV/Aids henceforth.
The directive is coming at a time the National Agency for the Control of HIV/Aids (NACA) disclosed that a whopping N179 billion is needed to reduce the disease by 80 percent in the next two years.
The President who was speaking at a meeting on “President’s Emergency Response Plan For HIV/AIDS in Nigeria” held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, said the 80 percent target set by NACA was not acceptable to him.
“As a President, I don’t want any Nigeria to die from HIV/Aids and the Governors should tell their citizens they don’t want them to die of HIV/Aids. Donor agencies will only assist us, it can never be their responsibility.
“Why should we target 80%? What about the remaining 20%? They should die? Our target should be 100%. We have to look for creative ways to fund it.
“We must make sure that 100% of Nigerians that require attention get the attention. The statistics should improve annually,” he directed.
President Jonathan also stressed the need to step up advocacy as canvassed by Lagos Deputy Governor. The President urged all the state governors to make use of the social media and religious leaders as they address the menace in their respective states. “Advocacy is very critical because the people must be aware,” he said.
Some governors who spoke commended the President for conveying the meeting, attesting to the fact that it was the first time pro-active steps that involved the states are being taken to address the HIV/Aids.
Earlier in his presentation, NACA Director General, Prof John Idoko had said the national HIV response is currently underfunded and only dependent on international funding.
He said for the country to meet its 50% funding target in this emergency situation, the three tiers of government must in the next two years invest directly a whopping N179 billion ($1.2 billion)
The breakdown shows the Federal Government providing N110.2 billion, States- N52.2 billion and Local Governments- N16.4 billion.
Meanwhile, the chairman of House of Representatives’ Committee on HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis, Dr. Joseph Abe has assured that the Lower Chamber will pass the Anti-stigma bill before the end of the current parliamentary year.
This followed passionate appeal made by the representative of over three million people living with HIV/Aids in the country that the House should pass the bill in earnest.
Abe who spoke at the meeting, said “I want to give a commitment here on behalf of the House that the Anti-Stigma bill will be passed before the end of this parliamentary year. It is at the final stage and will be passed soon:.
Also reacting to some of the issues raised, he however ruled out the possibility of the House passing a law making it mandatory for Nigerians to go for HIV/Aids test before doing certain things.
He opined that passing such law will run contrary to the fundamental human rights of Nigerians, even as he added that international community could also raise dust.
On funding of HIV/Aids, the lawmaker said NACA does not disclose the amount it is getting from the international donor agencies running into thousands of foreign currencies, calling for transparency in the way and manner funds accruing to the agency are spent.