PENGASSAN seeks ban on foreign medical trips for public officials

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The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has asked that public officials be prevented from getting medical treatment overseas in order to encourage the next administration to invest in the country’s health-care system.

In response to the reported impending food crisis, PENGASSAN stated that it expects the government to declare an emergency in the agriculture and food sectors, as well as to establish farm settlements across all federation states, in order to convert the country’s teeming unemployed youths into productive ventures.

PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, stated these at the association’s 7th Triennial National Delegate’s Conference held Thursday in Abuja.

Osifo urged the incoming administration to fast track the implementation of different sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to the benefit of Nigerians.

According to him, “The provision of the Act that will further deepen the development of the midstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry should be aggressively implemented. This will lead to the provision of gas infrastructure that will in turn aid gas development and help in harnessing the vast gas reserves in the country.

“We warn that the implementation of the PIA must not be made to pass through arm- twisting tactical bureaucratic monsters that bedeviled the PIB. The Host Community Development fund and trust should be immediately constituted.

Speaking on the medical tourism, he said: “In spite our levels of development we are still at very low ebb in terms of the provisions of medical facilities at all levels of government thereby encouraging high rate of medical tourism and foreign exchange outflows. We therefore expect fair-minded National Assembly members to initiate the process of criminalizing foreign medical treatment with public funds especially among political and public office holders. Put medical infrastructures and commensurate remuneration in place to discourage the high rate of emigration of medical personal, while offering incentives for those outside the country to return home”.

On the issue of looming food crisis, Osifo noted that: “A disturbing data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has predicted that about 25.3 million people will face food insecurity across Nigeria between June and August 2023. FAO in the statement warned if actions are not taken to avert the crisis, 4.4 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States will be grossly affected. It is a shame that despite our vast arable lands and huge human capital and financial resources, our dear country could be drawn and categorizes as being unable to feed its citizens. It is even more laughable that Nigeria is depending on food aids from countries under war situations such as Ukraine”

He further urged the new government to address the issue of insecurity, stating that Nigerians deserved to be adequately protected and that no sane investor would want to invest where the security of his investment and staff are not guaranteed.

The Union leader reiterated the association’s advocacy for the adoption of the NLNG model in the running of the nation’s four refineries when fully revamped and the creation of an enabling environment for the establishment and operation of modular and private Refineries.

According to him, “The incoming government must do all within its reach to see to the conclusion of the current rehabilitation effort and initiatives that is currently in place so that our nation’s refinery will come up in no time.”

He then, advised that “henceforth appointments into the top echelon of all Anti-Corruption Agencies like EFCC, ICPC and Code of Conduct Bureau be thorough, painstaking and devoid of any political consideration so that the integrity of those at the helm of affairs shall not be called to question as we have seen in recent times. The fight against corruption should not only be fought but must be seen to be fought with prosecutions and convictions with severe sanctions that will serve as a deterrence to anyone planning to toe such path.”

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