By Ikenna Osuoha
Abuja – The Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has called on Budget Office and the National Assembly to restore the 84 per cent slashed from budget for HIV and AIDS treatment.
National Coordinator of the Network, Abdulkadiri Ibrahim, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, Abuja.
Ibrahim warned that the association might embark on a nationwide protest if the authorities failed to restore the slashed fund.
The coordinator said that the deduction of such magnitude was capable of crippling the efforts of National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) in achieving a HIV free Nigeria.
He explained that such slashing was a conscious effort to undermine the good intention of President Muhammadu Buhari in tackling the menace of HIV/AIDS in the country.
He claimed that the Budget Office in collaboration with the National Assembly reduced the community’s budget from 100 per cent to 16 per cent having yanked off 84 per cent.
Ibrahim called on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to intervene to ensure that the slashed fund is restored.
He said that the 16 per cent would not be adequate for HIV treatment in 2020.
“President Buhari in demonstrating his fatherly care for patient community earmarked N4.5 billion annually for treatment of HIV patients in Nigeria hence he includes 50 patients every year.
“This 16 per cent will not cover the whole states. So we are giving the Budget office grace to return the 84 per cent or face nationwide protest,” Ibrahim warned.
The coordinator commended NACA for its efforts in achieving the global 90-90-90 vision which he said was a roadmap to achieving a HIV free Nigeria.
He expressed concern that the 2020 budget had underfunded NACA and that unwanted deduction was not necessary.
Ibrahim expressed dismay over the situation which according to him is another means of sending those living with HIV to their early graves.
“We have a lot of retention programmes we do every year, and this 16 per cent, if not completed will not do anything for us.”
Ibrahim however, gave assurance that the Network was committed to the fight against corruption aimed at sanitising the polity and transforming the country to a greater nation.