How Gov. Obaseki Ruined Health Sector, 513 Primary Healthcare Centres Despite N178.5bn Provision
By Chris Osagua
November 11, 2023
GOVERNOR Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has been alluding to his abstract achievements in the health sector that has been ringing hollow while watching the healthcare delivery system goes into ruins after squandering N143bn in the sector in the last 7 years and N35.5bn in the PHCC alone. His health policy – riddled with contradictions has led to the collapse and stagnation of hospital infrastructure – while pulling down existing physical structures without replacements as a result of blindly applied ill-thought policy. Our Correspondent, Chris Isagua x-rays how Governor Godwin Obaseki, Dr Samuel Alli, the State Commissioner of health’s approach, wrecks more havoc on the life-saving sector, thereby increasing his people’s misery_ .
EDO State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, will be departing Osadebe Avenue, Edo State, seat of power next year without an iota of dent on health infrastructure development, welfare of health workers and the entire health sector stagnated. The only known symbol of healthcare delivery system in the state capital, apart from the distended Primary Health Care (PHC) across the state is the Central hospital built by Governor Adams Oshiomhole that Governor Obaseki sold to his business partners to the chagrin of residents of Edo State.
A middle aged woman, Mrs Gift Aibangbe told our Correspondent that after spending 45 days in the Central hospital for the
treatment of her son who’s suffering from liver disease after usage of dialysis, she was given a bill of N5.7m Naira to pay.
“I was one of the millions of Edo electorates who shouted “4+4 Togba” and “No godfatherism” for Obaseki to secure second term in office, but I’m not sure he’s aware that his popularity rating has nosedived considerably as a result of his anti-masses policies.
“Can you imagine that I obtained hospital card for my son with the sun of N10,000, and we’re made to pay N20,000 daily for food, whether my son eats the food or not.
“The old Central Hospital and Stella Obasanjo Hospitals we were managing has been destroyed by Obaseki in the name of building museum in the place as well as
rebuilding Stella Obasanjo Hospital so that himself and his business partners can make more money for themselves in the new Specialist Hospital built with tax payers resources.
“There must be a reason the Governor is terribly wicked to Edo people because his sudden switch to inexplicable bitterness after he secured second term in office should be subjected to psychological analysis,” Mrs Aibangbe said.
At a function recently in the State Capital, Governor Obaseki told Edo people that Stella Obasanjo Women and Children Hospital will be ready for use by the second quarter of next year. But a check by our Correspondent at the hospital revealed that even if Obaseki were to remain in office in the next three years, the hospital
would not have been completed. The Governor’s disdain for healthcare delivery system and lack of incentives for the health workers was appropriately captured by the chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, Edo State Branch (Edo NMA).
In the words of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Edo State Branch, Obaseki has been more of a curse than blessing to healthcare delivery system in the State. On July 10th, 2023, the Association slammed Edo State Government over poor welfare of doctors and deplorable health facilities across the State.
The State Chairperson of the Association, Dr. (Mrs) Udoka Imoisili, highlighted the deplorable conditions of health facilities at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Meeting of the Association of
Resident Doctors under the Edo State Government Employment (ARD EDGE), commending the doctors for being able to organize their AGM despite the harsh working conditions in which they operate.
She listed some of the challenges bedeviling doctors under the State employment to include “The nonpayment of hazard allowance for almost a year now, the minimum wage not paid to only doctors in the state, the disappearing residency programme, the refusal to provide palliatives despite going to work every day in the face of fuel subsidy removal, the crappy/miserable working conditions and little or no impress to run the hospitals.”.
Besides, she said a tour through “most of our hospitals across the state is
nauseating. There are no restrooms, dilapidated buildings, ragged furniture and fittings, no light source and devoid of water, the environment, only fit for poultry. “His Excellency, The Governor, has refused us an audience for almost a year now despite these enormous challenges. We have written several letters requesting a courtesy visit, we have begged and lobbied with all channels humanly possible to table these challenges, bedeviling our members, but to no avail.
“You cannot claim to be solving a problem for people you are not in touch with. There is a serious disconnect between the leadership and the led,” the NMA Chairperson lamented. She disclosed that the Association’s suggestion that state hospitals should be given some level of autonomy so that whatever they generate
is ploughed back into the system has been ignored.
A tour at about two hundred and sixty-two (262) of the total of five hundred and thirteen (513) of the state primary health center across the 18 local government areas revealed outright neglect of the State health exiting infrastructure.
Going by the yearly capital expenditure on health care in the State at the public domain, more dividend of democracy ought to have been witnessed.
A quick rundown of State’s outlays on PHCCs in the last 7 years are as follows:
Unfortunately, efforts applied have not yielded the desired results. In this year 2023, NGN6.4b was approved for Primary Health Care Agency as Capital Expenditure. At the end of the first two quarters, NGN2.9b representing 45% performance was already achieved. This has not been translated into a meaningful uplifting of this subsector of the Health Sector as could be gleaned from dilapidated structures of PHCCs across the State.
In the last 7 years, NGN178.5b has been expended on health care in the State with inflated contract sums without visible achievement recorded. Out of this sum, NGN35.5bn has been expended on primary health, which should have given us 1000
brand new PHCCs at the rate of NGN35m per centre across the 18 Local Government Areas with equipments. This same amount of NGN35.5bn can give us a total sum of 2500 brand new Primary Health Care Centre with direct labour at the rate of NGN15m in line with best practices of International Donor Agencies. Your observations are as good as mine.
Trojan News Media Correspondent was not shocked evidently at Usugbenu General Hospital Irrua, where there was no Resident Doctor, but two Nurses who runned one week duty for each of the week. At Iruekpen General Hospital, there was low patronage as a result of poor hospital facilities and the absence of medical personnel. Central hospital Uromi’s dilapidated building was an appalling state to behold. Sources told our
Correspondent that the hospital in its decrepit state has been privatized by Governor Obaseki. However, we could not verify the authenticity of this claims.
It’s the same story at lgueben General Hospital. Ditto Ekpoma General Hospital, which operates like an abandoned health centre like the one spotted at Ubiaja General Hospital. Majority of the hospitals visited are overgrown with weeds, lack of equipment with a minimum of one Doctor or two Nurses, and in some places like Uromi three or four Nurses without drugs, in some other places, no Nurses and Doctors at all.
A quick tour at the Primary Health Care (PHC) in the eleven (11) Local Government Areas out of eighteen (18) showed a mockery of healthcare tragedy. Most of the
centers visited in Akoko-Edo, like Uffa/Akuku, Igarra, Ugbogbo, Ikiran-Oke, Sasaro, Onumu Sale, Onumu Oke, Atte, Ikpeshi, Egbigere IN, Egbegere OUT, Ijaja, Ikakumo, Agboshi-Afe, Agboshi-Ile, Ekpedo, Nekhue, Ojah, Make, Ojiranmi, Ogbe, Dagbala, Okpe.
The same is true at Esan Central in Ibore Primary Health Centre, Atuagbo, Unogbo, Afuda, Ohe, Agua, Igbele, Ebudun, Ibhululu, Eko Iyobhebhe, Opoji, Ugbegun, Udowo, Ugbakhere, Eko Ewu and Uzogholo that are replete with sorrowful sights of rundown health facilities.
The story of healthcare crisis is more paralyzing in Ovia South West at Umaza Primary Healthcare Center, as well as Obobaifoh, Essi, Usen, Okoro, Gbelebu, Ofunama, Ikoha, Aden, Abieyi, Evbonogbon, Ajakurama, Ajamagie, Ulorin, Ugogui, Sule,
Ofunmwegbe, Gbeoba, Iguafole, Urhezen, Iguatakpa, Iguelaihor, Okokpon and countless of abandoned health centers without beddings, drugs, Nurses and habitable decent structures to carry out medical activities.
An old ward orderly told our Correspondent in Iguelaihor that she’s the only health officer taking care of the center because local government senior managements staff have refused to employ more hands to take care of the health need of the people in the locality.
“You can see that I’m the only one in this whole place. The other nurse comes here twice a month from Benin City to check on us. Our amiable Governor Godwin Obaseki whom we loved so much and have done a lot for, should prevail on the Council
Chairman to come and provide us medical equipment and also send two or three workers to be assisting us here, she pleaded.
“Tell our Wake and See Governor Obaseki that we love him. We’re pleading with him to instruct the Chairman of the Local Government to come to our aid in terms of more workers and hospital facilities”.
Governor Obaseki may as well leave office next year as a hero or a rogue by deploying the enormous resources of the state to fix the decrepit health sector or walkway in a blaze of shame.