A U.S.-based Nigerian medical doctor, Dr Tomi Ademokun, has urged the Federal Government to pass a law to prevent political office holders and their families from accessing health care abroad.
Ademokun, a Public Health Advisor at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made the call in 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 hold leadership position, you cannot access external services, build it in your state and use it. Change begins with you,” she said.
The medical expert is of the opinion that such measures will make the leaders fix the health and education sectors in Nigeria rather than going abroad to access those services.
“It saddens me to learn that when any top politician is sick they go abroad for treatment, how come we are not building our health sector?
“How come we are not building the capacity of health care workers in Nigeria? So that when the president or any politician is sick, they can go to their local hospitals,” she said.
Ademokun told NAN that Nigerians in the U.S., especially in the medical sector had been doing wonderful well, “All my doctors here are Nigerians; my daughter’s pediatrician, my general practitioner, even my specialists are all Nigerians.
“Nigerian physicians and public health workers are doing well even back at home, what is lacking is support and enabling environment.
“We have to train and re-train our workers and build their capacity for them to continue to shine.”
Ademokun, who is the Vice President of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA), South Savannah, Georgia, recalled how white doctors were going to train in Nigeria under exchange programmes in the 80s.
She advised that those exchange programmes should be revived and that those in the diaspora should be empowered to come home and support their colleagues.
Ademokun, however, urged Nigerians in diaspora to use the opportunity of their dual citizenship to contribute to the growth and development of their homeland.
“I was born here but I always have the heart to go home. I can’t go back relying on the Nigerian government, they have not created that environment; then I use my American citizenship to go back as a U.S. diplomat.
“I was able to go home and work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at the age of 23.
“I went to more than 20 states in Nigeria while at NCDC, doing Train the Trainers (TOT) and building the capacity of public health workers, physicians in those states,” she said.
Ademokun emphasised that those Nigerians that God had blessed with dual citizenship should use the strong one to help build their homeland.
“I am the first American-Nigerian diplomat and the youngest to be appointed by the U.S. government to work in Nigeria.
“I had other countries to go to but chose to go to Nigeria; charity begins at home,” she said.
Also, she canvassed for effective health insurance system and welfare system that would help those that are not wealthy to access free health care.
On diaspora voting, Ademokun urged the Nigerian government to consider the voting rights of its citizens abroad, lamenting that only 29 senators voted in favour of the Diaspora Bill.
“We contribute over 30 billion dollars, we are major partners, we need to take our power back, when it comes to voting.
“We need to hold our leaders accountable, if we have that enabling environment, we can contribute more from even 30 to 100 billion dollars,” she said.