The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter

Forex Crisis: Nigerian Patients, Students Groan Abroad

Related

Forex reserves

Forex reserves

• Mixed Reactions Trail Development
• We Have Not Stopped Payments For Students, Patients, Says CBN

NIGERIANS who travelled overseas for medical treatment and students abroad have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reverse its latest guidelines barring remittance of foreign exchange through the use of Form A.

About 45 patients in India, who have been caught up by the new policy that came into effect last Friday, said “the policy constitutes a threat to our existence, as the hospital authorities will discontinue with their treatment.”

According to them, the new policy has increased their burden to settle their outstanding bills, while the hospital managements are reluctant to continue with their treatment without assurance of settling the cost of treatment due to the policy.

One of them said: “It is inhuman for CBN to expect us to source foreign exchange through the parallel market and even when you have the foreign exchange, you cannot remit it to the end user.”

Among those affected are also students in different disciplines, who are equally confused over how to source funds to continue their education.

At a meeting held in Bangalore, Southern India, recently, one of the affected patients, Mr. Hugo Odiogor, said the decision of the CBN is harsh, as they could no longer get remittances from their banks in Nigeria, while the cost of sourcing foreign exchange from the parallel market is outrageous, especially with the exchange rate of about N390 to one dollar.

Odiogor, a journalist, who had a spine decompression surgery last month, said he was already planning his return to Nigeria after the successful operation, before the new policy caught up with him.

Odiogor said his visa expired on February 17 while he was waiting for funds to settle his outstanding bills, noting that he now has to cope with the new burden, too.

He said: “We have met with the management of the hospital over our plight, but no decision has been taken.”

According to him, there are several other patients in Chennai and New Delhi, among others, that might have been affected.

Mr. Olu Bolajoko, who brought his wife for a cyber surgery, said he was unhappy with the situation, as he was running out of funds for drugs and other consumables relating to the treatment.

The Guardian gathered that another Nigerian journalist with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), who also travelled to India to receive medical treatment, died last Saturday, but sourcing for foreign exchange delayed the arrival of her body back to Nigeria till yesterday.

The first sign of danger had come in January 2016 when payment with the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) system was stopped by the CBN.

Mr. Simon Ostia, a student in India, said the attempt to use other money transfer mechanisms have also failed, as the banks have restricted the payment to $45.

He called for a reversal or modification of the policy to accommodate some pressing needs of Nigerian patients and students abroad.

But in a swift response yesterday, the CBN said it has not stopped the allocation and sale of foreign exchange for school fees abroad and medical tourism.

In a statement signed by the Director of Corporate Communications, Ibrahim Mu’azu, CBN urged members of the public to disregard any contrary information in respect thereof.

“Despite assurances from the CBN, some persons have continued to suggest that the bank had stopped the allocation of foreign exchange to Nigerians seeking to pay school fees and medical bills overseas.”

“All genuine users desiring to obtain foreign exchange for the above-mentioned purposes are hereby urged to freely approach their banks with their requests and appropriate documentation,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Professor of Business (Finance and Economics), Prof. Abiola Awosika-Fapetu, has said that until Nigeria’s foreign reserves improve, Nigerians would continue to languish in the present situation.

Speaking with The Guardian in a telephone interview, Awosika-Fapetu, who is the Rector of Olawoyin Awosika School of Innovative Studies, noted that government’s restriction of foreign exchange was in order as long as it is being deployed to productive sectors of the economy like manufacturing.

She said: “The issue of foreign exchange is about the reserve you have in the bank and if your account is already heading to red, what do you do? You stop withdrawing from that account.”

“It is rather unfortunate that students are out there and people are going out for medical reasons, but this is where we have found ourselves as a nation. You cannot spend the money that you don’t have. If we don’t begin to export so that we can put money in that foreign reserve so that our citizens can withdraw from it when they need it, then we are going to continue to languish at where we have found ourselves.”

“I am sure that even as the CBN has put foreign exchange restrictions on students, medicals and some manufactured products, there is still availability of foreign exchange for manufacturing equipment or industrial development. This is how it is supposed to be.”

While urging government to make funding available to industries that can employ as many people as possible and assist them to grow, Awosika-Fapetu advised Nigerians to adopt import substitution consumption alternatives in order to strengthen the economy.



9 Comments
  • OlalekanB

    there is no problem with naira to dollas . the official rate of naira to dollas still remain 197-199 for those who have legitimate request FX should fill Form M and obtain dollas. FG should not listen to those who will use hard earn resource to import all manners of items into the country toothpick , tooth paste , stock fish and people just going to dubai to buy house fittings.
    Nigeria has numbers of universities both private and govt owned. in uk international students pays between 12000-16000 per year in tutions fees while home students pays £9000 fees which will be loaned to them to be repaid aafter graduation when his or her annual income reach £21000. per year monthly installment of 5% of the loan
    The GON should direct available dollas resourcesto manufaturer and people that will import machineries to revitalised our moribund industries.

  • vic

    ALL MEDICAL TOURS MUST STOP FOR THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND MINISTERS, MEMBERS OF HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY, GOVERNORS ETC ETC.

    ALL MEDICAL TOURS BY THE NIGERIAN PUBLIC DEMANDING FOREIGN EXCHANGE MUST STOP, EXCEPT FOR THOSE MEDICAL CONDITIONS FOR WHICH MEDICAL FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE IN NIGERIA.

    THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD PROVIDE SOPHISTICATED MEDICAL FACILITIES IN ALL TEACHING HOSPITALS IN THE COUNTRY.

    THERE ARE ALSO PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN NIGERIA WITH ADEQUATE MEDICAL FACILITIES. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR NIGERIANS TO TRAVEL ABROAD FOR ANY MEDICAL TREATMENT WHATSOEVER TO CONSERVE FOREIGN EXCHANGE. THE THE SAME VEIN NO FOREIGN EXCHANGE SHOULD BE ALLOCATED FOR PAYING SCHOOL FEES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES. SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES IN NIGERIA SHOULD BE STRENGTHENED WITH GOOD FACILITIES. FURTHERMORE PRESIDENT BUHARI AND HIS MINISTERS SHOULD REFRAIN THEMSELVES FROM TRAVELING ABROAD IN THE NAME OF ATTRACTING FOREIGN INVESTMENTS. NO ONE WILL COME TO NIGERIA BY THESE KINDS OF USELESS FOREIGN TOURS UNTIL BUHARI CREATES A CONDUCIVE ECONOMIC CLIMATE AND SAFETY OF FOREIGNERS THROUGH SENSIBLE FOREX POLICIES.

    BUHARI HAS A LESSON TO LEARN HERE. DESPITE ALL CORRUPTION AND FOREX EMBEZZLEMENT BY JONATHAN’S CRONIES, THE FOREX WAS NOT IN SHAMBLES AND DOLLAR WAS STILL BEING EXCHANGED FOR 22O NAIRA. THIS ECONOMIC ILLITERATE AND ARROGANT BUHARI, HAS NO CHANCE THAT HIS NON-EXISTING ECONOMIC POLICIES AT HOME WILL ATTRACT FOREIGN INVESTMENTS DESPITE HIS EXPENSIVE USELESS FOREIGN TOURS.

    • umolu

      Nobody including the President MUST go abroad for medical reasons. We MUST all seek treatment in Nigeria. There should be no ‘Animal Farm ‘.

      • vic

        you are 200% right, that should be the case to give them incentive to develop health sector in nigeria. can you imagine each one of them is looting trillions from the national treasury. buhari too is looting esta code dollars for himself and his entourage with incessant fruitless foreign tours.

  • Patrick Nrialike

    I am sorry the patients should come home to Nigeria. We have good medical services in the private sector at least. It is cheaper at least you can pay in Naira. But that should not stop us from shouting from our roof tops for the Nigeria government to act and improve our public health institutions as they are doing with Aso rock clinic. At least they know what a good medical service is after all.

    My take for the Naira exchange is that it should be allowed to float freely in the market. Any body can buy or sell freely in that open market with no restriction and no government rate. So nothing like official or parallel market, but one open market, as we are supposed to be an open market economy period.

    • Blackprincess

      Not every medical condition is treated in Nigeria and thats why pple fly abroad for specialist treatment. You can’t just say the patients should come home…

      • Goz Williams

        and what stops us a nation to research in those areas of medicine, built the hospitals and purchase the equipment, unfortunately it cannot happen and not because we are a poor country but you and I no the reason why is not possible. we have the human brains and resources cos most times when they fly abroad they end up being operated or treated by a Nigerian surgeon/doctor who has left the shores (brain drain). were where countries like dubai, india etc befire just because they have started to get their acts right we are all rushing off there. Y cant we get it right ourself and make our schools, hospital attractive to the world cos those countries we run to na human beings make am work. no excuse princess honestly.

        • Patrick Nrialike

          Thank you my dear. You do understand. In any case I did not mention that I am a medical doctor now retired after working for 33 years, half in Nigeria and the last half in the UK. So I know we have the potential to treat most if not all treatable conditions in Nigeria. We have the skilled manpower to do so, what we need is the political will for the right medical investments.

          • Goz Williams

            Doc. we singing from the same hymn page. its simply the political will to get our acts right. I live here in the UK and I have just come out from a privately done cervical fusion surgery in Harley street clinic. I can tell you that the top lead surgeon was a Nigerian and it was sucessfful. you see what am saying Doc so its not about not been treatable in Niger but its about investing in medicine like you rightly said. I think we should deal with our inadequacies as a nation.