Nexim

Okezie Ikpeazu's health crises and the underlying woes in Abia State

one year ago | 23



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By Dodoh Okafor AGAIN may I crave your indulgence to empathize with the Abia State governor, Mr Okezie Ikpeazu who recently came down with an ailment believed to be related to complications arising from coronavirus I wish the governor a speedy recovery and pray for his family at these trying times. I would encourage them to continually solicit the mercy of God upon their father (and husband) while he lies on the sick bed. Beyond Okezie Ikpeazu who I understand is being managed by the best medical team money can assemble in Abuja, we must also spare a thought for thousands of pensioners, civil servants and others currently huddled in their homes because of heath complications arising from neglect and untreated ailments A lot of pensioners who have developed health crises or even worse in the last few years could have been spared the agony if and only if the governor had respected the contract these men and women entered into with the state government when they joined the civil service. Then let us also look at the fact that the governor could not find a single medical facility in the state that can attend to him. It is instructive that in five years, no medical institution in the state has been upgraded to such a status that the personnel (and facilities) can attend to a governor's failing health. While a lot of people will raise eyebrow as to why I am raising these issues now, I matter of fact consider this time most auspicious for us to focus on the issue of governance in Abia state- especially now that one of those that ought to have fixed a sector as critical as health has now found himself publicly sick. Consider the fact that for much of the past five years, staff of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Hospital Management Board and other health institutions in the state have been crying over unpaid entitlements. Now we are left to ask: what if? What if the governor had paid greater attention to the health sector? What if he had treated the health workers with respect and dignity? What if...? Do not for a minute imagine that you need the brain of rocket scientists to fix the health system. In places like Europe and America where public officials in Nigeria run to every now and get to get the best of quality healthcare, all the works are done by men- including black men from Abia State. The UK NHS which takes care of the health needs of British public servants was built and run by men. Men designed the system and manage it because they are conscientious enough to know that if you set your house on fire, you cannot expect sympathy from strangers when the rain begins to beat you. When Buhari's chief of staff died of coronavirus a few weeks ago, commentators also raised the question: what if...? What if Abba Kyrai had fixed State House Clinic? What if he had build another "Wellington Hospital" in Abuja or even Borno? What if he had used his influential position in the administration to encourage the president to do something about Nigeria's health system instead of jumping into the jet every time he feels sick? Now I want to be fair. Okezie Ikpeazu is not the only person who betrayed the Abia Health System. Before his reign (calamitous by most standards), we had a Theodore Orji and an Orji Uzor Kalu. What did these men do for the Abia State health sector? Nothing beyond tokenism. Compare these three men with Peter Obi for instance. Before Obi came into office, no health institution was accredited in Anambra State, but before he left in 2014, he got 14 institutions and two hospitals, including Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, which he built from scratch, accredited. Without going further, Peter Obi alone did more for the Anambra health sector in 8 years than the trio of Ikpeazu, Orji and Kalu did for Abia in 21 years. The lesson here is simple: one cannot always ride on luck. The state has earned more than 3 trillion naira over the last 21 years and yet, no meaningful development has taken place in Abia since 1999 The streets are amongst the dirtiest in all of the world. What does it say of a state that its officials cannot manage refuse generated by households and business establishments? Think also about the terrible road network in Aba, the disorder in Umuahia and the ravaging unemployment across the state. I can tell you for free that many Abians are not missing Mr Ikpeazu. Matter of fact, they see him as a symbol of all that has gone wrong in the state since 1999. That he is a failure is not in doubt. What is however truer is that many ordinary citizens interpret his present travails as some kind of admonition to rise up to the demands of service. Fact is: Okezie Ikpeazu himself is a victim of a system he helped create. It is a system that encourages dishonesty, rewards incompetence and worships at the altar of greed. I do not know much about his deputy Mr Udo Okochukwu. However, nothing about him gives any room for cheer. As Khaleb Ogbonna once said about Emeka Ihedioha, nothing in Okochukwu's past inspires confidence in the future.   He is an integral part of the corrupt political system in Abia state and if there is anything we have learnt from the reigns of Uzor Kalu, Theodore Orji and Okezie Ikpeazu, it is the truth that products of the system cannot disappoint the system.   Our duty hence will be to dismantle this corrupt system that has kept the state on its knees in 21 years. Destroy a system that mandates that a man must be a liar before he can meet his basic needs. Take away the present system that makes it perfectly normal for a few individuals to pocket what belongs to an entire state without fear or moral scruples Banish a system that makes it impossible for young graduates to find decent means of livelihood in their fatherland. A system that forces us to far off land in search of employment does no justice to our brains. Above all, it is grave injustice to retain a system that pushes a sick governor into the sky in search of medical care when same could have been provided in the state if and only if.... Jun. 11, 2020 @ 18:35 GMT |

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