Tuesday, June 30, 2020

South Africa - History

Letters to the Editors from the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editor,

P. Lawrence, in his article on South Africa, asserts that “tribal differences also divided the African peoples who in the seventeenth century had migrated south from East Africa (Socialist Standard, April 1990). This claim is also to be found in the more dated official literature such as the South African Department of Information publication Progress through Separate Development (1973) and anyone familiar with Apartheid historiography will readily appreciate its purpose as one of a battery of “myths of origin" that Apartheid ideologists have deployed over the years to legitimate the contemporary distribution of land between "White South Africa" (87 percent) and the "Black Homelands" (13 percent). According to the above publication, "the story of modern South Africa dates back more than 300 years when the forefathers of the various Bantu or black nations of South Africa and the white South African nation, all foreigners to southern Africa, converged in relatively small numbers and from different directions on what was, at the time, a practically empty country except for small roving bands of primitive nomadic Bushmen and Hottentots" (p.12). The present distribution of land between whites and blacks, it is argued, reflects the original pattern of settlement of these two groups and involved "neither colonialism nor conquest".

This bears no relation to the historical reality. For some time now it has been known that the interior of South Africa was populated by iron age Bantu-speaking farmers long before the 17th century (when the Dutch arrived at the Cape) and was continuously occupied since, notwithstanding the Mfecane, or inter-tribal wars in the early 19th century, which supposedly depopulated the interior prior to the Great Trek. According to Shula Marks, there is substantial evidence to suggest that the first wave of Bantu migration arrived south of the Limpopo River “early in the first millenium AD, and not, as had been previously assumed, relatively late in the second" (History Today January 1980). There are, for example, numerous traces of ancient African settlements and mine workings throughout much of so-called White South Africa. Indeed, the archaeological evidence against the thesis of "simultaneous occupation” is now so overwhelming that not even the official propaganda of the South Africa Government bothers any longer to peddle this nonsense (cf. Official Yearbook of South Africa 1983). It is therefore all the more surprising that one should find it being perpetuated in, of all places, the Socialist Standard

Robin Cox, 
Haslemere, Surrey

Although we never expressed the view our correspondent has read into the article (we merely stated that there was a migration of Bantu-speaking tribes, in the 17th century, into what is now South Africa, which is true), we naturally defer to the archeological evidence, not that it has any contemporary political relevance. The fact the Bantu-speakers were there first does not justify the claim that the ruling class in South Africa should be drawn from their ranks any more than the Afrikaner nationalist distortion of history justifies their claim that the ruling class should be white. Socialist are not interested in such arguments. We say there should be no ruling class, no states with their frontiers and nationalist mythologies, and no monopoly ownership of land

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Skin Colour Prejudice

Beauty companies selling skin lightening products have been criticised in the wake of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

Unilever has announced that it will rename and rebrand the Fair & Lovely product range, which is popular in many African countries, to reflect the diversity of beauty.

"We recognise that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this," Sunny Jain, President Beauty & Personal Care was quoted as saying in a press release from the company.

In July of last year, the Socialist Standard drew attention to the racial prejudice of the cosmetic industry

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Locked in in Lockdown

Police in Nigeria have rescued 300 people they say were locked in a rice-processing factory and forced to work throughout a coronavirus lockdown. From the end of March the men were allegedly not allowed to leave the mill in the northern city of Kano.
The workers were promised an additional $13 (£10) a month on top of their $72 monthly salary - those who did not accept were threatened with the sack. Some of the men say were forced to work most of the time during their incarceration, with little food.
"We were allowed to rest for only a short time, no prayers were allowed, no family visits," 28-year-old Hamza Ibrahim, one of those rescued, told the BBC's Mansur Abubakar in Kano.
"What I saw was heart breaking. Where the company kept these people to live isn't fit for animals," Karibu Yahaya Kabara of the Global Human Rights Network told the BBC. "Their meals weren't enough and there were no drugs for those that took ill," he said.Mr Kabara said his organisation was taking up the case to ensure that the men got justice.
Five managers at the mill have been arrested.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Oil Pollution in Niger Delta

In 2011, a ground-breaking report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on oil pollution in Ogoniland highlighted the devastating impact of the oil industry in the Niger Delta and made concrete recommendations for clean-up measures and immediate support for the region's devastated communities.

Now, nearly ten years later, a new report published Thursday by Friends of the Earth Europe, Amnesty International, ERA, and Milieudefensie, details Shell's failure to implement the "emergency measures" laid out by UNEP and says only 11% of contaminated areas in the Niger Delta have begun the clean-up process.

"After nine years of promises without proper action and decades of pollution, the people of Ogoniland are not only sick of dirty drinking water, oil-contaminated fish and toxic fumes," said Godwin Ojo of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. "They are sick of waiting for justice," Ojo added. "They are dying by the day."

Shell Oil has dumped an estimated nine to 13 million barrels of crude oil into the Niger Delta since 1958.

"Oil and gas extraction has caused large-scale, continued contamination of the water and soil in Ogoni communities," said Friends of the Earth in a statement. "The continued and systematic failure of oil companies and government to clean up have left hundreds of thousands of Ogoni people facing serious health risks, struggling to access safe drinking water, and unable to earn a living."

"The discovery of oil in Ogoniland has brought huge suffering for its people," said Osai Ojigho of Amnesty International Nigeria. "Over many years we have documented how Shell has failed to clean up contamination from spills and it’s a scandal that this has not yet happened." The ecological damage, Ojigho added, "is leading to serious human rights impacts—on people’s health and ability to access food and clean water. Shell must not get away with this—we will continue to fight until every last trace of oil is removed from Ogoniland."

 The new report concluded that:
  • 1. Work has begun on only 11% of polluted sites identified by UNEP, with only a further 5% included in current clean-up efforts, and no site has been entirely cleaned up;
  • 2. Actions classified by UNEP as “emergency measures” - immediate action on drinking water and health protection - have not been implemented properly; there are still communities without access to clean water supplies;
  • 3. Health and environmental monitoring has not been carried out;
  • 4. There has not been any public accounting for how the 31 million USD funding provided since 2018 has been spent;
  • 5. 11 of 16 companies contracted for the clean-up are reported to have no registered expertise in oil pollution remediation or related areas;
  • 6. HYPREP (The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project) has numerous conflicts of interest as Shell continues to be involved in the governing boards for the clean-up and even places its own staff in HYPREP.

Mali Unrest

Tens of thousands of protesters in Mali have gathered in the capital, Bamako, calling for the president to resign. Demonstrating crowds gathered in Bamako's Independence Square, chanting slogans, blowing plastic trumpets and holding placards with anti-government messages. A letter has also been sent to the president by the opposition groups demanding his resignation.
Led by conservative imam Mahmoud Dicko, a coalition of opposition groups is demanding political and economic reform.
They are seeking the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta because of escalating jihadist and inter-communal violence. Keïta was first elected president of the west African nation in 2013. He secured a second five-year term in 2018. But he has come under mounting pressure in recent months due to Mali's worsening economy, coronavirus, and a teachers' strike. Political tensions have also arisen from a disputed legislative election in March, and allegations of corruption.
Mali has been wracked by instability since 2012, when Islamist groups hijacked an insurrection by Tuareg separatists, seizing swathes of territory in the north. But violent attacks on government forces and UN peacekeepers continue. In recent days, the president has been pushed to make concessions to opposition groups, like raising the salaries of public teachers following a pay dispute.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Pig Fever in Nigeria

Hundreds of thousands of pigs have been culled by Nigerian farmers in response to an explosion of African swine fever (ASF). The outbreak began around Lagos and parts of neighbouring Ogun state earlier this year, pig farmers say, but has now spread to many other parts of the country.

In the past decade, ASF has regularly surfaced in several parts of Africa. Between 2016 and 2019, more than 60­ outbreaks were reported across the continent. More than 20,000 jobs are at risk. 
But the recent wave of infections is the worst by farWe have never experienced anything of this scale in the past. This is the worst and largest outbreak ever,” says Ayo Omirin, a pig farmer at Oke-Aro.
ASF is harmless to humans but in pigs and wild boar the fatality rate is nearly 100%, and there is no vaccine against it. Safety depends on controlling animal movement and ensuring hygiene in farms, slaughterhouses and abattoirs. In Nigeria, many farms are not up to the task.

Uganda's Deforestation

Conservationists have branded a decision by the Ugandan high court to allow swathes of forest to be cleared for a sugarcane plantation “an unforgivable shame for all people”.
Work to clear 900 hectares (2,223 acres) of Bugoma Forest Reserve, in Hoima, began last month after the court ruled that the land, leased by Hoima Sugar Company Ltd, lay outside the protected area of the forest. The court ordered the National Forestry Authority (NFA), which manages it, to vacate the land.
The land was leased to Hoima Sugar, which has a 70% shareholding in Kinyara Sugar Works in neighbouring Masindi district, in 2016 for 99 years by Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, king of the ancient kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. He said the leased area was ancestral land and not part of the protected forest.
Costantino Tessarin, chairperson of Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest, said: “Whether the land falls inside the boundaries of the gazetted reserve or not … is a merely sterile exercise for primary school students. “Because the reality is that we are talking about [an] ecosystem of international importance that cannot be discussed in parts and pieces,” he said. The decision to go ahead with clearing the forest was “an unforgivable shame for all people of common sense, not only in Uganda but in the world”. He explained, “Sugarcane is not only environmentally unfriendly in general, but in particular when it becomes the buffer zone of a tropical rainforest,” said Tessarin.
He said sugarcane was not the best crop to use as a buffer zone around a protected area because it doesn’t mix well with wildlife. “There are crops and landscapes which are more appropriate in buffer zones areas where there are chimpanzees and … almost 10 species of primates, plus other wildlife,” he said.
Conservation groups and forestry experts have long warned that destroying even just a part of the forest’s diversity would lead to a loss of fauna and flora, and affect the water levels of the River Nile.
“We consider this plan not only detrimental to the Ugandan government plans to develop and invest in tourism in Bugoma Forest, but to the overall fragile and rich ecosystem which will simply be irreparably compromised,” said Tessarin, who is also director of Uganda Jungle Lodges and owner of Bugoma Jungle Lodge.
The reserve, which covers 41,144 hectares, is the largest remaining block of natural tropical forest along the Albertine Rift Valley and adjacent to Budongo Forest and Semuliki National Park. It plays an enormous role in preserving wildlife migratory corridors. It is home to 23 species of animals, including an estimated 550 highly endangered chimpanzees, Ugandan mangabeys (an endemic primate), 225 species of birds and 260 species of trees.
Forest have shrunk from 24% of Uganda’s total land area in 1990 to 9% in 2015, because of land disputes and deforestation, according to State of Uganda’s Forestry report.
“To throw away Bugoma would be to throw away rain, biodiversity,” said Cathy Watson, head of programme development at World Agroforestry. “It would also be to throw away Uganda’s reputation on the climate, forest and wildlife front.”

Monday, June 15, 2020

Agroecology for Africa

Africa has huge population that can potentially provide manpower, sufficient land, good soil, and the sun, but the only problem is that capitalism does not support what is the best for the continent.

Agroecology has the potential to build resilience and sustainability at all levels, by reducing vulnerability to future supply shocks and trade disruptions, reconnecting people with local food production, and making fresh, nutritious food accessible and affordable to all. This, according to the scientists, will reduce the diet-related health conditions that make people susceptible to diseases, and provide fair wages and secure conditions to food and farm workers, thereby reducing their vulnerability to economic shocks and their risks of contracting and spreading illnesses. However, the findings show that very little agricultural research funding in Africa is being used to transform such food and farming systems. The scientists found that only 3 percent of Gates Foundation projects in Africa support sustainable, regenerative approaches or agroecology.  Agroecology taps into traditional agricultural knowledge and practices, plays an important role in sustainable farming by harnessing local ecosystems. Tapping into local ecosystems, for example via using biomass and biodiversity, the traditional farming practices that make up agroecology can improve soil quality and achieve food yields that provide balanced nutrition

A new study by researchers from BiovisionInternational Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and the United Kingdom-based Institute of Development Studies shows that such sustainable and regenerative farming techniques have either been neglected, ignored or disregarded by major donors…most governments, both in developing and developed countries, still favour “green revolution” approaches, with the belief that chemical-intensive, large-scale industrial agriculture is the only way to produce sufficient food.

“These approaches have failed,” said Herren, winner of the 1995 World Food Prize and 2013 Right Livelihood Award. “They have failed ecosystems, farming communities, and an entire continent,” he said.
Dr Lusike Wasilwa, a senior research scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), believes that donors are investing more money in industrial agriculture not because it is the magic bullet for Kenya and other African countries, but because they have an agenda.
“Kenya needs to wake up and find its position in production of crops such as avocado and macadamia nuts, which are largely grown using sustainable and largely environment-friendly methods,” Wasilwa, who is also the director of Crops Systems at KALRO, explained. “No donor is willing to support such crops that could easily make Africa rich,” she said. “We should not let donors set our research agenda because they are not going to fund research that will help Africa make money,” the scientist told IPS. 

Cobalt Mining and Birth Defects

People in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being exposed to dangerous levels of toxic pollution that is causing birth defects in their children as they mine for cobalt used to make rechargeable batteries for smartphones, laptops and electric cars, a new medical study has found. Cobalt mined in the DRC accounts for 60% of global production of the mineral.

Research published in the Lancet last week found that local people working in mines in the African “copperbelt”, a mining region stretching across Zambia and the DRC, are at significantly higher risk of having children born with serious birth defects.

Researchers from the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC and the universities of Leuven and Ghent in Belgium found that the risk of birth defects greatly increased when a parent worked in a copper and cobalt mine.

The researchers linked the increased risk to the high levels of toxic pollution caused by the extraction of cobalt in southern Katanga, named one of the 10 most polluted areas in the world.

The study was commissioned after academics at the University of Leuven read reports from local doctors, NGOs and local authorities of high numbers of children of miners in the DRC being born with conditions such as limb abnormalities, cleft palates and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

"Every day tens of thousands of workers are exposed to heavy work with a lot of pollutants and dust. The health of the miners and their families must be taken into account by anyone who profits from or uses cheap smartphones around the world,”  said Dr Daan Van Brusselen, a paediatrician at Ghent University who worked on the study alongside doctors in Belgium and the DRC.

Earlier this year a lawsuit was launched in the US, which accused the world’s largest technology companies of aiding and abetting in the deaths of children working in mines in the DRC. The case is ongoing.


Socialism or Anti-Apartheid? (1970)

From the June 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

The apartheid policy of the South African government — with its race laws, its industrial colour bar, its segregation, its overflowing jails and its restrictions on free expression — is a brutal system of oppression of the “non-white” people there and particularly of the African workers and peasants on whose backs the South African capitalist economy largely rests.

Everybody knows (including the South African government who have banned our pamphlets) that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is opposed to apartheid. However, our refusal to take part in anti-apartheid activities such as the boycott of goods some years ago and the planned demonstrations against the cricket tour is often misunderstood. So let us explain why we say that Socialism, not anti-apartheid is the way out for the oppressed people of South Africa.

The establishment of a democratic socialist world community based on the common ownership of the world’s resources will mean the emancipation of all mankind. It will end not only the capitalist exploitation of the working class but also all existing oppressions based on colour or language or culture.

Capitalism, the system based on the class ownership of the means of production, paves the way for Socialism by creating a world-wide productive system capable of turning out wealth in abundance. Towards the end of the last century capitalism became the dominant world system and so completed this task of building an economic basis for Socialism. From then on world Socialism was an immediate, practical possibility; capitalism had become a reactionary barrier to man’s further social progress. Some parts of the world, however, though dominated by world capitalism had yet to be absorbed into the system of production for profit and wage labour. These were “the backward countries”.

The question arises: is the coming of capitalism to these countries now in the interest of mankind? The Socialist Party says it is not. Before capitalism became the dominant world system it did play a progressive role in breaking-up pre-capitalist societies — a step towards creating an economic basis for Socialism. But once capitalism had come to dominate the world it had no progressive role to play anywhere, not even in the backward countries. The modernisation of these countries is certainly desirable but this can now take place within the framework of Socialism. There is no longer any need for them to pass through the capitalist stage of social development; they can skip this and, along with the already industrialised parts of the world, go straight into Socialism.

Let us now apply this analysis to South Africa.

Apartheid is essentially a pre-capitalist form of oppression; it is an attempt to impose the colour patterns of a frontier farming community onto a modern industrial economy. It will never work properly because what the government is trying to separate the economy keeps bringing together. The mines and factories of South Africa depend on African labour so Africans are attracted into the towns. Apartheid may never work but the attempt to make it do so brings untold suffering since it is partly because it does not make economic sense that it has to be imposed by police state methods.

The big capitalists of South Africa, as exemplified by gold magnate Harry Oppenheimer, are opposed to apartheid; so are the international corporations with capital invested there. Capitalism’s tendency, through the world market for its goods and the labour market for its workers, is to reduce all previous distinctions based on birth or language or colour or religion to one economic one: that between owners and non-owners of the means of production. Ideally — and this comes near to reality in this age of big corporations where the prejudices of individual capitalists do not matter — the capitalist employer is only interested in the quality of a worker’s ability-to-work and is not concerned with his skin colour or his views; he wants to be free to employ those he considers would be the most profitable for him. The free labour market by throwing together workers of all kinds of backgrounds allows him to do this.

South Africa's big capitalists want to encourage this tendency of capitalism so that they can make more profits on the basis of a modern wages system and a stable, integrated urban working class. They recognise apartheid as an obstacle to this and oppose it. Anti-apartheid serves their interests. It is not in the interest of the oppressed people of South Africa since its achievement would mean the final triumph of international capitalism over its backward-looking opponents there.

Those who are merely anti-apartheid and who urge us to join in their latest single-issue campaign about this should ask themselves just whose dirty work they arc doing. Are they really helping the oppressed people of South Africa or are they merely furthering the interests of the capitalists there whose profit-making is being restricted by apartheid? The unpleasant fact is that the overthrow of the National Party government in South Africa and the end of its apartheid policy would mean that political power would pass into the hands more friendly to capitalist magnates like Oppenheimer. This would be so under an African nationalist government (as it is in Zambia or Ghana, for instance) as much as under a United Party or Progressive Party government. The biggest part of the South African working class would be freed from oppression on grounds of colour, but they would still be propertyless and still have to work for wages on the farms, down the mines and in the factories. They would become subject to the straightforward capitalist exploitation the workers of Britain have long known.

Anti-apartheid, then, is not the way out for the oppressed people of South Africa; Socialism is as it will free them from capitalist exploitation as well. To treat opposition to apartheid as a separate issue to Socialism is to become an unwitting tool of international capitalism.

The Socialist Party for other reasons (the dangers of reformism) does not support single-issue protest campaigns in any way event, but, as we have tried to explain, anti-apartheid is not what it seems. We are afraid that thousands of sincere people genuinely appalled at racism in South Africa are going to further the demand of international capitalism for freedom to exploit all workers in South Africa irrespective of colour. We are not prepared to be used in this way and shall not be joining in the demonstrations.

Our advice to those who like us are opposed to apartheid, but who arc thinking of demonstrating is this: Think before you act. Do not let your perfectly justifiable distaste for racism lead you to “do something” that, when you think carefully about it. will not really achieve what you want. Consider whether your efforts would not be more fruitfully employed in working with us for a socialist world community where racism would have no place. In the meantime racist policies will be undermined to the extent that socialist ideas spread.

Adam Buick

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Apartheid Remains

More than 25 years after the end of white minority rule, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, according to the World Bank, with urban areas starkly divided along racial lines. 

Townships in the Western Cape province, South Africa's coronavirus hotspots, are suffering particularly high rates of infection.

Nearly 12 percent of all infections in the Western Cape are in Khayelitsha, the largest township in Cape Town, even though it has just 6 percent of the province's population.
By contrast, Stellenbosch, known for its Winelands and a university town, has just 1 percent of Western Cape's cases and makes up about 4 percent of its population.

"We are seeing townships become virus hotspots because we haven't dismantled the apartheid city," said Edward Molopi, a researcher with housing and human rights charity the Socio-Economic Research Institute in Johannesburg. Molopi said the virus had exposed how little had changed in South African cities since apartheid ended. "During apartheid, Black people had to live in sub-standard, crowded, unsanitary conditions, far from economic opportunity," Molopi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Not much has changed."
Human rights defenders have said security forces were deployed to enforce lockdowns mainly in poor Black areas like high-density townships, where higher population numbers and overcrowding made it impossible to properly isolate.
"COVID-19 has exposed the brutal inequality in South Africa," said Chris Nissen, a commissioner from the South African Human Rights Commission, an independent watchdog. "People say all lives should matter, but what about people in townships? Don't their lives matter too?" said Nissen.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Sahel Crises

In a briefing released  Jun. 10, Amnesty International painted a picture of rife insecurity in the Sahel, with a civilian population “trapped between attacks by armed groups and ongoing military operations”. The combination of rife insecurity, food insecurity and more than 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance has left the Sahel a region in crisis, with the global coronavirus pandemic expected to exacerbate the situation.

The briefing, titled ‘They Executed Some and Brought the Rest with Them: Civilian Lives at risk in the Sahel’, details the grave reality in the region, especially across Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, including “at least 57 cases of extrajudicial executions or unlawful killings, and at least 142 cases of enforced disappearances” that have allegedly been committed by soldiers between February and April.

The organisation stated that in Mali and Burkina Faso the deliberate killing of unarmed citizens by security forces could be counted as war crimes.

  • The Western Sahel has been in the grip of a security crisis since 2012, when Tuareg rebels in Mali grouped together in an attempt to administer a new northern state called Azawad. 
  • The attempt failed, after intervention from French troops in 2013. However, local groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State continue to spread violence across the region.
  • A multinational military force from the G5 Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger has attempted to control the violence since 2017.
  • France has retained a military presence in the region.
In a recent United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) high-level talk about the region where Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the current situation in the Sahel region was “in every sense of the word a crisis”.

Rajasingham noted that between 2019 and now, the region experienced an exponential rise in its need for humanitarian assistance: with 7.5 million people in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali requiring assistance — up from 6.1 million just a year ago. 

He added that issues such as food insecurity and displacement of people were adding to this need, and that 5.5 million out of 12 million people in the larger Sahel are “just a step away” from “emergency levels of food insecurity”. 

“These are the highest levels of food insecurity we have witnessed in this region in a decade,” he said. “The socio-economic fallout from COVID-19 is likely to double these numbers.”

According to Ousmane Diallo, a Sahel researcher at Amnesty International, the COVID-19 pandemic “is not the defining feature in the region due to its emergence but it constitutes another challenge that different governments must contend with”.
Achim Steiner, Administrator, U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and Vice Chair of U.N. Sustainable Development Group said; “Before the onset of COVID-19, the central Sahel region was trapped by protracted conflict, violent extremism, competition over accessible lands and water and the [dangers of] climate change with temperatures rising at one and a half times faster than the global average.”

According to the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, violent activity involving militant Islamist groups in the Sahel has doubled every year since 2015. 

The academic institution noted that since 2013, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have doubled their military budgets, amounting to a total of some $600 million.

Nigeria's Healthcare Cut

In Nigeria the government is to cut healthcare spending despite the risk undermining the country’s coronavirus response and severely impacting already strained services, health and transparency groups have warned. Funding for local, primary healthcare services will be cut by more than 40% this year.
The proposed cuts could affect immunisations, childcare, maternal healthcare and family planning services. Nigeria currently spends less than 5% of its federal budget on health. 

According to Prof Innocent Ujah, the head of the Nigerian medical association, 
“Our budget for health is unacceptably low, under 5%. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it becomes even more serious,” he said. “It will have an impact on our response to the virus.” Ujah said he was shocked at the announcement of the cuts, as it had been assumed health budgets would be ringfenced during the pandemic.

37bn naira (£75m) set aside for renovations to Nigeria’s National Assembly buildings. 
“Whatever renovations they want to do in the National Assembly should be suspended,” Ujah said. “This is a global emergency.”
Oluseun Onigbinde, the director of BudgIT, an organisation which tracks government spending, said, “It’s a bit shameful that Nigeria’s allocation for health and education has not gone above 5% of the total budget provision in the last five years. The government has really underinvested in healthcare.”