A US-based Nigerian physician, Dr. Tomi Ademokun, has urged the federal government to pass legislation to prevent political office holders and their families from accessing health care overseas.
Ademokun, public health adviser at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made the call during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York.
She also called on the government to pass a law to prevent political office holders from sending their children to schools abroad.
“If you are in a leadership position, you cannot access external services, create them in your state and use them. Change starts with you,” she said.
The medical expert is of the view that such measures will inspire leaders to fix the health and education sectors in Nigeria rather than traveling abroad to access these services.
“It saddens me to hear that when a senior politician is sick, he goes abroad for treatment, how come we are not building our health sector?
“How come we are not building the capacity of health workers in Nigeria? So when the president or any politician is sick, they can go to their local hospitals,” she said.
Ademokun told NAN that Nigerians in the United States, especially in the medical sector, are doing wonderfully well: “All my doctors here are Nigerians; my daughter’s pediatrician, my GP, even my specialists are all Nigerian.
“Nigerian doctors and public health workers are doing well even at home, what is lacking is support and an enabling environment.
“We need to train and retrain our workers and build their capacity so that they continue to shine.”
Ademokun, who is the vice president of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Americas (NIDOA), South Savannah, Georgia, recalled how white doctors went to train in Nigeria on exchange programs in the 1980s.
She advised reviving these exchange programs and empowering members of the diaspora to return home and support their colleagues.
Ademokun, however, urged Nigerians in the Diaspora to take advantage of their dual nationality to contribute to the growth and development of their homeland.
“I was born here but I still have the heart to go home. I can’t go back and trust the Nigerian government, they didn’t create that environment; then I use my American citizenship to become an American diplomat again.
“I was able to return home and work with the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) at the age of 23.
“I have been to over 20 states in Nigeria during my time at NCDC, to train the trainers (TOT) and build capacity of public health workers, doctors in those states,” she said.
Ademokun stressed that Nigerians whom God has blessed with dual nationality should use the stronger one to help build their homeland.
“I am the first and youngest Nigerian-American diplomat to be appointed by the US government to work in Nigeria.
“I had other countries to go to but I chose to go to Nigeria; charity starts at home,” she said.
In addition, she called for an effective health insurance system and social protection system that would help those who are not wealthy to access free health care.
Regarding the Diaspora vote, Ademokun urged the Nigerian government to consider the right to vote of its citizens abroad, lamenting that only 29 senators voted in favor of the Diaspora Bill.
“We contribute more than 30 billion dollars, we are major partners, we must take back our power, in terms of voting.
“We need to hold our leaders accountable, if we have this enabling environment we can contribute more, even $30 billion to $100 billion,” she said. (NOPE)