Federal Government health projects taken over by weeds from Kwara to Edo
Success Nwogu reveals some abandoned health projects of the Federal Government that have been taken over by weeds and rodents
Look around your community. There should be at least one abandoned government project or the other. They are a common place in Nigeria. If it is not a broken-down water project, it is likely to be an uncompleted road or rail transportation project.
While nothing catastrophic may happen if a contractor delays a housing project for years, and people may live with the discomfort of a neglected road repair that drags for years, this is not the case with a public hospital, the sole purpose of which is to save lives.
For every second that a health facility is neglected, lives of hundreds of patients, including accident victims, are endangered or outright wasted.
Though the presence of functional health facilities have been established, investigations by our correspondent revealed that many federal, state and local government-commissioned health projects in Kwara, Edo and some other states are lying wretched in uncompleted conditions.
Investigations carried out by our correspondent who paid several visits to these abandoned health centres and spoke with residents in these communities revealed that some uncompleted health centres have become ‘guest rooms’ for destitute persons, rodents and reptiles.
Goats and other livestock are regular visitors and are also the co-inhabitants in some of these centres that are, ironically, at an advanced stage before they were abandoned.
For instance, it was observed that some of the abandoned facilities in Kwara State have wards, theatre rooms and pharmacists’ sections before they were neglected.
Consequently, some roofing sheets, ceiling fans, and other fittings have fallen off while weeds have overgrown other sections.
Security men guarding these structures complained that they were being owed many months’ salaries and that those in charge had not shown up.
Investigations by our correspondent also revealed that the neglected comprehensive health centre projects were commissioned by the Federal Government during the late former President Umaru’ Yar’Adua administration in conjunction with local government councils in the state.
A resident at Akerebiata community, Ilorin East Local Government Area, where one of the centres is sited, Alhaja Ramatu Balogun, said she nearly lost her three-year-old daughter when she had a convulsion in January. According to her, the little girl’s condition degenerated from mild fever to convulsion about 11pm and there was no functional health facility to seek treatment in the community at that time of the night.
The woman said she trekked with the sick baby for two hours before she could get a vehicle that conveyed them to the Federal Government Health Centre in Sobi Specialist Hospital, which she said was many kilometres away from her residence.
According to her, by the time she reached the hospital, her daughter’s condition had deteriorated, so much that she was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit for days.
Balogun said,“ What if I didn’t get a car that night to take me to Sobi hospital? What if the girl died before I got there at 1am? Yet I have a public hospital beside my house that has been abandoned for three years now. The government must do something.
“Doctors said that it was because of the fever that she began to convulse and if she had been treated earlier, she would not have collapsed.”
Another resident, Alhaja Jumoke Sulaiman said she nearly died the day she sustained an injury and there were no health centre to visit.
Suleiman said she bled for hours before her husband rushed home and took her to Sobi Hospital where they treated the cut.
According to her, she was admitted for six weeks at the hospital because of complications arising from loss of blood.
She noted that she would not have suffered such predicament if the FG’s community hospital in the area had been completed and was functional.
Also, a resident of Oloje, Mr. Rufus Abdullahi, said he missed death by the whiskers when he had a motor accident near the Oloje Garaje.
Abdullahi said he was walking along the road when a vehicle lost its brakes and rammed into him. He said he fainted as blood gushed out of his mouth and other affected parts of his body.
He stated that while he was taken to a faraway hospital in Ilorin, he had lost much blood and nearly died. He survived after many months in the hospital and had since been having serious pain as a result of complications arising from the accident.
Abdullahi also believes that he would not have suffered so much if the Federal Government-owned health centre in Oloje Garaje had been functioning.
He pleaded with the authorities to complete the project so that community members would start to access health services.
Also, the Vice-Chairman, Mustapha Akanbi Community in Akerebiata, Ilorin East LGA, Mr. Adelodun Yusuf, said one of the projects sited in the community had long been abandoned.
He said the community members, especially pregnant women and children, had been affected as emergencies had to be taken to hospitals in faraway areas.
Yusuf said it was surprising that such laudable projects, which could improve community health, could be abandoned after huge investments had been ploughed into them.
He stated that the situation was more worrisome given government’s outcry of dwindling revenue while successive governments had not deemed it fit to complete the health projects.
Also, people at the Mechanic Village, Oloje Garage, where one of the proposed hospitals is, decried the abandonment of the facility.
They said they were elated when the project was initially inaugurated and construction work commenced.
However, it is disheartening that after seven years, the project has not been completed while it has even degenerated and become dilapidated.
FG, contractors owe us
A sub-contractor to some of the projects handled by Havilla Construction Company Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Oladele Bamgbola, said the Yar’Adua administration awarded the contract to Nichim Group of Companies.
According to him, he supervised some of those in Kwara State.
He claimed that the Yar’Adua’s administration commenced the project in many states in conjunction with LG councils to provide quality health care access to the grassroots. He added that it was lack of fund that compromised the good intention.
He stated that no fewer than 10 LGAs in the state benefitted from the contracts. He identified them as Offa, Oyun, Irepodun, Ilorin East, Ilorin West, Ilorin South, Asa, Barateen, Kaiama-Baruteen and Edu.
He alleged that many of the sub-contractors nationwide were heavily owed by the main contractor, adding that efforts to get his payment for completion of the projects had been futile.
Bamgbola said, “When I tried to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, they promised that they were going to send a team to see the situation on ground. Unfortunately, nobody has come for the inspection since two years ago.
“Most of the facilities have almost been completed. When you see the project you will shed tears. These are laudable Federal Government’s projects. Why do they have to abandon them as they are for the masses?
“Yar’Adua planned for the enhancement of the health and welfare of the masses. He wanted the hospital to be close to the poor people. That was the intention then. But unfortunately I do not know what happened between the contractors and the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.”
He added, “I am pleading with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete the facilities so that people can enjoy the investments. Look at how much the FG has spent on the projects.
“If they turn the facilities to hotels today, the government will be making a lot of money from them. They were not even planned for hotels but as health institutions that will provide quality, accessible and affordable healthcare to the people.
“The Government should investigate what happened between the contractors and the past government. Some of the almost completed projects are being blown off by the wind.”
The State Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Mr. Amodu Okandeji, described the neglected facilities as “an economic waste’ and a disservice to the people.
Okandeji residents are worried that that the health facilities have become hideouts for thieves and hoodlums.
‘Each centre costs N55m and above’
The Founder of Kwara Arise Network, a non-governmental organisation, Mr. Musa Aliyu, described the current state of the facilities as shameful, noting that they were meant to ameliorate the pains of the masses.
He said, “From reports available to us, each of the facilities cost nothing less than N55m as of the time they were constructed.
The unpleasant state of some health institutions also extends to some state government projects as some of the health facilities are begging for upgrade.
The Civil Service Clinic at Ilofa, GRA, Ilorin which is less than a kilometre to the Kwara State Government House and Lodge; as well as the residence of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki at Ilofa, GRA, Ilorin, is one of them.
A resident of Ilorin, Alhaji Bolaji Olanrewaju, lamented that the clinic did not receive the deserved upgrading during the Bukola Saraki’s eight-year administration and still suffers the same fate under the present government.
However, the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, said his administration’s policy thrusts was to upgrade health institutions across the state as well as provide qualitative, affordable and accessible healthcare to residents.
He claimed that his administration had invested significantly in health facilities in the state.
He noted that during his first term, the state government remolded five general hospitals at Ilorin, Share, Kaiama, Offa and Omu-Aran.
He said his administration was still committed to making health care accessible within 500 meter radius to residents.
He, however, said paucity of fund, occasioned by the sharp reduction in revenue allocation from the federation account, as well as falling crude oil price at the global market, had affected the zeal and capacity of his government to bequeath world class health institutions to the 16 local governments areas in the state.
Ahmed, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, said the state government was still unwavering in its desire to deliver an enviable legacy in the sector.
He said, “This started with the remodelling of our general hospitals. This year, the government will remodel the General Hospital at Oro and four health centres. The Civil Service Clinic and other state/LG operated health facilities are scheduled for overhaul as funds become available.
“We are also reaching out to the FG with a view to ensuring completion of the health centres under its purview.”
Ahmed stated that regardless of the dwindling revenue, the state government would continue the rehabilitation of some health centres especially those in rural communities in the state this year.
According to him, the facilities to be considered include those in Oro, Ajasse-Ipo, Iloffa, Aran-Orin and Arandun.
Like Kwara, like Edo
Residents were jubilant when Senator Domingo Obende built a health centre in fulfilment of his campaign promises to his constituency.
But the health centre has not been used and is now overgrown with weeds.
The health centre was recently sighted inside the abandoned Olympic Games Village in Afuze, the headquarters of Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State.
A resident of the Olympic Games Village, Stephen Imoudu, said Obende built it but failed to hand it over to anybody, thus leaving it in an abandoned state.
“The man built the place because it was one of the promises he made while campaigning but when he completed it, he didn’t hand it over to the Local Government Area or any person for usage. So, we have been helplessly watching bush, snakes and rabbits take over the place,” Imoudu said.
Efforts are also being made to contact Obende on the neglected state of the facility in Edo State.