By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said his award as the best performing governor on health in the south south region of the country is a victory well deserved.
The award which is an official recognition from the World Bank, federal government and ThisDay Newspapers was presented to Mr. Ayade by Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday at Abuja at the newspaper’s third policy dialogue.
Ayade, represented by the commissioner for health, Dr. Inyang Asibong and the Director General of the state’s primary health care development agency, Dr. Betta Edu said the award was a challenge as the state will work harder.
Dr. Asibong who is also the 2017 CrossRiverWatch man of the year said that: “Today, we are gathered here to celebrate a victory well deserved and an award well received, and most importantly another level of challenge which is also very well accepted; as the greatest reward for hard work is the motivation to do more.
“The Cross River State Government will not rest on its oars in ensuring the State maintains its status quo as the most improved State in health, and hopefully go beyond the national level.
“I thank you all on behalf of our vibrant and proactive health team for this recognition and we promise to do even better, God willing!”
The award comes on the heels of the governor been recognised as the Business Newspaper best performing governor in agriculture.
However, what does this mean for the state?
CrossRiverWatch findings reveal the awards are part of an incentive to ensure the states in the federation takes seriously, the USD500 million World Bank grant on health which saw each state cart away USD1.5 million in the first year in the ‘saving one million lives’ initiative all geared towards achieving universal health coverage.
One state is chosen from each of the six geopolitical zone as a winner and is expected to win by increased funding while the overall winner gets even more funding.
Unconfirmed information suggests the state may get up to NGN1.8 billion in funding which is expected to be spent on only the health sector.
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the Primary Health Care in Calabar South local government area, Mrs. Rose Ugbe who initially declined comment, told this reporter in a chat that the award will serve as a moral booster for staff of the primary health departments across the state.
She congratulated the health team in the state led by Dr. Asibong and Dr. Edu and said the award which comes years after former Governor Liyel Imoke received a similar one.
“It is good for our health sector. We toil day and night to keep residents healthy and this will definitely boost our morale. I am about leaving the service after decades of working hard and I am happy to be part of this great feat,” said an emotional Rose who wiped a tear from her eye.
She called for improved welfare and commended the current administration for attending to some of the the plights of health workers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ayade departed Calabar for Abuja on Friday aboard an Air Peace flight to join Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) summit in Togo.
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