Despair is the word as Otuo residents in Edo state await endlessly the commissioning of women/children hospital 40 years after the foundation was laid. AIDELOJE OJO takes a look at the political intrigues associated with the project.
…It was learnt that an ICPC team probing constituency projects executed by the 7th and 8th National Assembly recently visited the hospital to ascertain the procurement of the facilities. The team, according to stakeholders in the community, confirmed that the procured facilities met standards of the contract for their supply but lamented that such expensive facilities were left to rot without installation. The question many are likely to ask is why a responsible government would allow such costly facilities to rot while the community continues to suffer lack of medical care.
The political undertone
This is where the political undercurrent comes to the fore. It was learnt that although the former lawmaker was instrumental as a member of the state caucus at the National Assembly in the nomination and election of Governor Godwin Obaseki in 2016 on the platform of APC, their relationship has become sour. It is on record that this former deputy chief whip along with the senator then representing Edo North led the NASS caucus to obtain nomination form for Obaseki then a preferred candidate of former Governor Oshiomhole. It was learnt that political differences soon torn the APC political gladiators apart and degenerated to the point that Governor Obaseki would have nothing to do with anything that have direct or indirect connection with the former deputy chief whip. Analysts believe that apparently, this sour relationship is responsible for government withholding posting of staff and installation of available equipment to enable commissioning of the hospital.
Still on the political undertone, it is generally believed that the raging war between Governor Obaseki and his political godfather, Oshiomhole has to some extent turned the attention of the administration from the hospital at the expense of the people who are in dire need of medical facility.
Analysts are of the view that under normal circumstances, the Otuo hospital project would have been taken as a viable uncompleted project on priority list of the administration; unfortunately, this is not the case. Pathetically, Otuo communities and environs are now suffering the pains of a war in which they are not actors just because it was the past administration that gave life to the hospital and the present administration would not have anything to do with the legacies of its predecessor.
A tale of dilapidated structure
A peep at uninstalled facilities and equipment wasting away at hospital premises reveals that
between Otuo and Ake towns on the Afuze- Otuo road, a shattered wooden signboard stands tall indicating the presence of a hospital. A close look at the gate shows that it has not be opened for years. Inside the premises, beautiful buildings that ought to be serving as wards and administrative blocks have been overtaken by weeds which have grown taller than the buildings.
A guide and resident of the town, who took Blueprint correspondent round the premises but would not want to be named in print, consistently cleared the bush inside the premises with cutlass to reach most of the structures. According to him, reptiles, rabbits and even grass cutters now hibernate in the premises. A peep into one of the buildings, one could see lizards jumping and frolicking on top of foams numbering over 400 pieces supplied years back. Also seen are bed cabinets of approximate numbers lined up along the same vast hall, presumably one of the wards of the hospital. In another bushy area of the premises stands the morgue where six cabin rooms have been partly installed ready for use. An X-Ray machine with Garman inscriptions could also been seen in another building also partly installed. In addition, well-furnished four consulting rooms, some junior, senior doctor’s apartments appeared ready for occupation. The issue of power supply in the hospital, according to a source, has been settled for the next 15 years with solar energy plant.
A staff of the contracting firm that supplied facilities to the hospital, Ogbuma Johnson, who spoke with our reporter said that the light in the hospital has not blinked since the installation of the solar system three years ago. According to him, “This hospital will not depend on power supply from Edo Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) when it is commissioned. It was learnt that two new ambulances have also been provided for the hospital and kept with community leader to avoid being vandalized.
Pleas by traditional rulers
The anguish of the people and their cries for a functioning medical facility has no doubt caused the traditional ruler and Ovie of Otuo kingdom, Uzoyare J. S, Ojeabuo, sleepless nights. It was learnt that the royal father has been unsettled over the matter, engaging in several entreaties with the government to expedite action on the commissioning of the hospital without much fruitful results.
Speaking with our correspondent in his palace during a visit, the royal father was filled with emotions in his pleadings for government to listen to the cries of his people and open the hospital. He appealed to Governor Obaseki to commission the hospital completed in the kingdom three years ago, explaining that Otuo communities were anxiously waiting for the governor to commission the hospital to enable them gain access to affordable health services.
According to him, “On November 1 2017, the governor visited Otuo and promised to commission the women/children hospital. Although we are aware of his tight schedules, we have been waiting for him to open the hospital for the benefit of my people. I want to use this opportunity to plead with the governor to hear our prayers and commission the facility.”
Ojabuo lamented that some of the world class equipment and facilities acquired for the hospital have been lying fallow in the premises which has also been taken over by weeds and reptiles.
He said, “It is painful that my people are dying of treatable diseases on a daily basis due to lack of medical facility. Pregnant women have to be rushed long distances to Afuze or Auchi towns while in labour. If this Otuo Women and Children Hospital is functional, many lives would be saved. We really desire the hospital to become functional,” he said.
It is important to emphasise that the issue of health as a social contract between government and the people is sacrosanct; it should therefore not be entangled in acrimonious political game. As a social responsibility and in fulfilment of his promises, Governor Obaseki’s administration would not only serve the medical needs of the people, but also ameliorate the anguish of the people which would endear him and make his name indelible in the history of the kingdom.