Mixed reactions have trailed the planned monthly payment of N3,000 to every pregnant
woman in Bayelsa state as announced by the governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson.
The governor, during a well attended infant and maternal mortality summit organized by the state government made the announcement as a state policy. During the event which had former President Olusegun Obasanjo in attendance, Dickson proclaimed that hence forth, every pregnant woman in the state would be entitled to a monthly stipend of N3,000 till their day of delivery.
He said N100million had already been released to the ministry of health for the special allowance. Dickson also presented a cheque of N1.2billion to the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebo, saying that the fund was part of the N3billion earmarked for the construction of health care facilities across all 105 wards in the state as part of government's strategies to reduce infant and maternal mortality rate in the state.
"This is money well spent. This is how to spend the people's resources. We have to put the people's money in critical areas like this", the governor said.
But some Bayelsans have received the announcement made by the state government on the payment of N3,000 to pregnant women in the state with mixed feelings.
While some people described the gesture as a welcome development, others saw it from the negative perspective.
A pregnant woman, Mrs. Roseline Otobo who spoke to our correspondent in Yenagoa, said "I heard it on radio. If what they are saying is true, if the money will get to us, it will go a long way. It is not everybody that has the money to take care of themselves during pregnancy. That money can help expectant mothers in buying some antenatal drugs", she added.
However, Mrs. Gloria Ofongo, a medical practitioner, picked holes in the government's special largesse. She reasoned that the money would encourage teenage pregnancy and discourage child spacing lack of which she said was responsible for many cases of maternal and infant mortality in the society.
According to her, the phrase, 'every pregnant woman' would have been expunged from the policy, advising that only married women should benefit from the stipend.
"The intention of the government may be good but don't be surprised, poverty is a disease. Teenage girls may want to get pregnant so as to be collecting N3,000 every month.
"Apart from the teenagers, many married women will no longer be cautious of child spacing. Lack of child spacing is one of the reasons mothers have complications during child birth", the nurse said.
Responding, the Etebo said the gesture was for the interest of the state as it regards the wellbeing of all pregnant women in the state.
The commissioner, who spoke through his press Secretary, Mr. Amieyefa Yola, further explained that the monthly largesse was to ease the dificulties that were associated with pregnancy.
He said the state government had been carrying out series of sensitization on family planning, child spacing as well as the dangers of teenage pregnancy, noting that Bayelsa women were too enlightened to look for pregnancy because of N3,000 stipend.
The commissioner added: "those raising issues from this are just trying to make a case out of nothing. No sane Bayelsa woman will want to get impregnated because she wants to benefit from the N3,000 monthly assistance from government.
"The gesture only underscores the importance attached to health care delivery by the present administration".