Nigeria: Using the influence of the Governors’ wives
On 5 April 2010, Save the Children in Nigeria received a call – 19 Governors’ wives from the Northern states of the country were holding a one day forum. They wanted Save the Children to talk to them about the newborn and child survival campaign.
Organising an effective advocacy in such short notice was a challenge, but we were not going to miss such an opportunity. There was a lot to organise:
- How would we get the governors’ wives interested in our presentation?
- What would be an appropriate issue that cuts across the 19 states?
- Where would we get relevant resources both from our National data and the Global Save the Children archives?
We decided to get our celebrity ambassador, actress and Nollywood super star, Ms Joke Silva involved. Ms Silva gave the Governors’ wives a background on the current health situation of mothers and children in Nigeria. She discussed the current budget allocation to health and compared our performance with other African countries that have already removed user fees. She acknowledged that states would need to take some tough decisions to transition from fee-for-service to free health service, and the implications of such decisions.
Nigeria is endowed with enough resources to provide free health services. What is lacking is the commitment to channel these available resources for the purpose of saving the lives of pregnant women, newborn and children under 5years. The Governors’ wives have great influence, individually and collectively on their spouses. It is our hope that they will use this influence to get the state governments to see health as a fundamental human right owed to their citizens.