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Federal government terminates funding of professional bodies and councils

Date:

Nigeria’s federal government has informed professional bodies and councils that it would stop funding them commencing from the 2024 budget in line with the decisions of the Presidential Committee on Salaries (PCS).

The move is in line with the recommendation in the Orosanye committee report and the recent Presidential Committee on Salaries.

The Director General, Budget Office of the Federation (BoF), Mr. Ben Akabueze, conveyed the message via memos sent to the professional bodies.

Some of the memos were addressed to the Registrar/CEO, Optometrist and Dispensing Optics Board as well as the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology (NiCFoST).

Professional bodies in Nigeria are largely responsible for research and technology development in their fields, relying on government funding to conduct ethical reviews and propose and promote new professional standards. There are over 100 professional bodies in the country.

However, the development has generated mixed reactions from analysts.

While some welcomed the decision of the PSC, others warned the discontinuation may imperil the nation’s healthcare system.

Some analysts had expressed surprise at the revelation that professional bodies were being surreptitiously funded by the government and questioned the rationale.

They described the support to the professional bodies as ridiculous.

A public commentator marveled at the lack of transparency in the funding support.

“And for some reason, it has never been in the public domain. The opaqueness in governmental affairs is something else,” the source who pleaded to remain anonymous told THISDAY.

On his part, the Managing Director/Chief Executive, SD&D Capital Management Limited, Mr. Idakolo Gbolade, criticized the practice of supporting funding intervention to the affected entities.

He said, “This is a revelation and this shows that most professional bodies might be receiving allocations from the government.

“To my amazement, most of these professional bodies will always speak out against subsidies knowing that they enjoy a form of subsidy from the government.”

He further that, “According to best practices, professional bodies are supposed to use annual dues, research grants and private sponsorships to raise funds.

“I implore the government to remove all other unrealistic subsidies funding lifestyles of both public and private organisations with their officials and focus on providing a realistic palliative to the masses.”

On the contrary, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Dignity Finance and Investment Limited, Dr. Chijioke Ekechukwu, opposed a blanket stoppage, pointing out that not all professional bodies are funded by the government or have councils.

He said, “The government should continue to fund the professional bodies in health and other sensitive bodies instead of a blanket stoppage of funding.”

According to him, “These councils exist to ensure that standards are maintained and enforced.  Most of the councils are in the medical fields and engineering, etc. I do not see why the government should stop funding councils of very sensitive bodies.

“Bodies like the Medical and Dental Council, Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, and Nurses Council should be funded and regulated by the government. If they are not funded, how can you ask questions or question their activities if they are not of good ethical standards.”

Ekechukwu said, “If they are not funded, standards are going to drop. The salaries of medical doctors on housemanship and residency nationwide, for example, are paid by the government through the council. There is no way the council nor the hospitals can afford to make such payments.

“Hospitals will start refusing to accept these medical personnel. Such medical students may take years after graduation to get placements for their statutory engagements in hospitals. Membership fees of these professionals to their professional bodies will never be enough to meet their financial needs.”

 

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