Sunday 17 February 2008

Nigeria: Governor's reputation goes up in hospital flames

Useless Health Ministers
If this is not a case where Nigerian politics and the service to humanity has lost its priorities, focus and purpose, I would wonder what is.
I have railed before about so-called professors in medical science who have been appointed Ministers of Health and they have failed to grasp the extent and import of their briefs.
It informs the reason why for a simple fracture that the erstwhile vice-President had or the complicated ailment that the current President had before his selection required them being flown out of the country.
We have at least 4 teaching hospitals that have been in existence for at least 4 decades and we still end up with situations where one was particularly involved in obtaining sub-standard drugs from the black market that the Health Minister of the day could not be persuaded to act decisively on the report from the drug standards body; because the report was addressed to a predecessor he replaced a few weeks after the report was submitted.
If there would ever be a Health Minister in the mould of the late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti who in spite of the strictures he had to work in, still made improvements and adjustments to health delivery in Nigeria, one cannot yet tell.
Junket beclouds purpose
The news reaching me today is appalling to say the least, a general hospital that had been built in Maiduguri, Borno State, with possibly start-of-the-art medical equipment was burnt down.
That is unfortunate, but reading the detail leaves one quite livid with rage; for the sake of stupid ceremony, the culture of junketry (for the want of another derivative of junket) that gets in the way of getting things done expeditiously and properly for the people; the hospital which was completed in June 2006 has remained closed until the day it was torched.
It had remained closed because the State Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ali Modu Sheriff, wanted the President to fly over with his entourage of leeches at great expense to the taxpayer to cut the tape to open the hospital.
So far, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had been otherwise engaged than to do bed-pans that a number of visits were postponed until one that had now been set for March 2008.
I would contend that if the hospital had been deployed to the service that it was built to provide, it is unlikely we would be reading of arsonist attacks, rather, it would have breakthroughs in healthcare delivery hugging the headlines.
Misdirected anger
I am not surprised that the people of Bulunkutu were angry and shouting abuses at the alleged arsonists but their anger is completely misdirected and this is where the education of the masses is required for a clear thought process.
The governor stated that there was not one state-owned hospital in the country that had the type of world class equipment that could be found in the hospital complex – if that was the case, the next question should be whether the hospital was built for the people or for the opportunity to bring the President to this far-flung North-Eastern state.
It is unlikely that the President would have needed to use the facilities, the people of the state however, would have benefited from using the hospital considering other Borno State hospitals are poorly equipped and overcrowded.
The people should have been foremost in the mind of the governor and after being unable to get the President he should have settled for another delegated functionary or even done it himself.
Now, he laments the arsonists had a ploy to damage his political reputation – How do we get to elect these cretins?
This hospital should have been opened 19 months ago and it should not have lain fallow and unused for another one month until March 2008.
Another rape of the people
Not only is the governor culpable in this travesty and rape of the people, his advisers should have seen that his political reputation stems from the people not from junkets that have him play host to the President.
The healthcare delivery hierarchy should have prevailed upon him; if indeed we had healthcare delivery statistics all around the country, to open the hospital and give respite to the people who most definitely have no opportunity to jet out for Aspirin.
The anger of the people should be directed at the idiot that is the governor, just as the arsonists who were wrong could no more stand seeing a white-elephant in their neighbourhood.
I would suppose the President would be visiting next month to cut the tape and allow fire engines access to fight the fire after which he can shovel the ashes and see the hospital rise like a phoenix before the eyes of the junketeers.
Sometimes, incredulity is the norm in great Nigeria.

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