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NHIA Abandons Health Insurance in Favour of Church Service

The phrase separation of Church and State was a term coined by Thomas Jefferson and promoted by philosopher John Locke. The concept, however, predates both men. It was what birthed the idea of a secular state in which religion is theoretically not allowed to influence government affairs directly. This ideal is pursued by nations across the world including Nigeria, at least that is what our government claims.

It was disturbing to see a government agency stream a church service on its social media page. The official handle on the X of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) live-streamed a service of about two and half hours today, 17th December 2023. What makes it more disturbing is the fact that Nigeria is a multi-cultural and plural-religious state with a history of hostilities between the different groups that have been once again brought to the fore by the 2023 elections. The current hostilities have been simmering even though elections were concluded over 9 months ago, and any little fodder fed into it might engulf the entire country in an inferno. So, for a government agency to display such irresponsibility is very condemnable. What was the point, and should we be looking forward to an Islamic service and traditional services dedicated to the gazillion deities across the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria?

Besides, for an agency whose primary responsibility to Nigerians is to get as many people as possible under a health insurance scheme, a mandate very important for a country with terrible health-related statistics, a relatively low life expectancy, and a greater proportion of its population uninsured. A cursory look at the social media page in question showed that most of the things it posted about health insurance were bureaucrats meeting each other, term papers, and other inane things. There are no pointers on how to obtain health insurance in Nigeria and no relevant data on the subject. There is nothing to sensitize the general public on the need and benefits of health insurance coverage.

The entire debacle smacks of the absurdity that takes place in the average government agency, and one can only hope that at some point in the future, things will change for the better.

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