EXCLUSIVE: Jonathan violates Nigerian laws, corners N3billion general hospital for own town, Otuoke

Otuoke General Hospital. What should be the responsibility of the Bayelsa state government was built by the federal government

The Federal Government does not build general hospitals. But PREMIUM TIMES can report today that President Goodluck Jonathan has waived two vital rules to establish a princely N2.8 billion new general hospital for his hometown, Otuoke, effectively placing the coastal community as an exclusive beneficiary of a strange largesse not known to federal laws.

It is not clear how and when the federal government first conceived the hospital project, as it was not listed in federal budgets between 2009 and 2011, and even after.

But the Federal Executive Council meeting of August 17, 2011, presided over by Mr. Jonathan, gave approval for the project, and a N2.8billion contract was hurriedly awarded to Messrs Avandale Limited. The job was projected to last only 12 months; and indeed, unlike the usual delay government projects face, it was delivered on time.

As the administration became aware that PREMIUM TIMES  was making extensive enquiry about the hospital, President Jonathan hurried to Otuoke on Saturday to purportedly inaugurate the 40-bed hospital, which has now been named Otuoke Comprehensive Cottage Hospital.

At the ceremony, Mr. Jonathan claimed the project began as an initiative of the Bayelsa state government in 2006 before it was taken over by the presidency.

He did not say why he mandated the MDG office, which he personally supervises, to spearhead the project. Mr. Jonathan also did not tell his audience that an estimated N2.8billion federal money was pumped into the project, although a report say the project was eventually completed at a cost of N3.5billion.

Apart from the fact that it was never budgeted for (a violation of the appropriation law), the project breached a longstanding government policy requiring that the federal government provides only tertiary (teaching hospital, federal medical centers, and specialist hospitals); while the states build secondary facilities (general hospitals). Local governments provide primary facilities (health centers).

An exception to that rule, lately, has been the federal government’s direct intervention in local health care, in a spirited campaign against maternal and infant mortality, ahead of the 2015 target date for the actualisation of the Millennium Development Goals.

Otuoke hospital is a general hospital, strictly a secondary health facility, which should have come under the responsibility of the Bayelsa state government. But in 2011, few months after securing his official first term, President Jonathan sidelined that requirement, authorized through the Federal Executive Council, the construction of the N2.8billion hospital in his hometown, and personally supervised its speedy completion within 12 months.

The hospital stands clearly as the only known general hospital nationwide deliberately constructed with federal money by the president since taking office in 2010, a review of government projects, budgets and implementation records show.

Federal health officials also confirmed, in interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, the anomaly of the Otuoke project.

“The federal government is only concerned about tertiary health institutions, anything more than that, we don’t know,” a top official of the ministry of health headquarters said. Many of the officials who spoke insisted on anonymity, for fear they might be victimized.

“We don’t have any responsibility with general hospitals,” the official said.

Mr. Jonathan approved the erection of the hospital in Otuoke even when a Federal Medical Centre, FMC, had already been established in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. Federal Medical Centres were established nationwide in states that do not have Federal University Teaching Hospitals present, for the purpose of providing tertiary level health care, which is within the purview of the Federal Government in the concurrent nature of health care delivery system in Nigeria, explains a government policy document seen by this paper.

Covering up illegality through the MDG

Mr. Jonathan himself knows he has broken the law by taking over the responsibility of the Bayelsa State government to establish a general hospital for his community. Perhaps to address that concern, the Otuoke hospital project was approved and executed not as a ministry of health project, but as part of intervention projects by the Millennium Development Goals office.

Even at that, the project breached the MDG plan. Where it appears minimally in line, its scale far outweighs similar allocations in other states, showing the imbalance that often characterize federal projects; and how the beneficiaries of such indiscretions are always the constituencies of powerful public officials. President Jonathan’s action also underlines the nepotism that usually characterise the siting of federal projects across the country.

The MDG office, headed by Precious Gbeneol, a known loyalist of the president, helps with water projects, renovates schools, builds small health centers and assists in health projects that specifically apply to maternal and infant health.

Two staff of the MDG office said they were not aware of projects such as the building of general hospitals anywhere. “It’s not what we do, we build only health centres, water projects, education and things like that,” one official said.

While affirming that position, a spokesperson for the office, Desmond Utomwen, however said the MDG department occasionally provides specific assistance to existing general hospitals in special circumstances. He cited how the office assisted the Obstetric unit of Kubwa general hospital in Abuja.

A detailed review of budgets and government project records show the nature of assistance the office provides. Besides supplies of drugs, contraceptives, antiretroviral drugs, insecticide-treated nets and the construction of primary health centers, a number of hospitals received minimal interventions in the form of renovation and completion between 2009 and 2013. All did so at far minimal rate, compared to the hospital in Otuoke.

The presidency refused to comment for this story. Telephone calls to presidential spokesperson were neither answered nor returned while an emailed message to the same official is yet to be responded to.

Otuoke: From a quiet hamlet to a controversial city

A low lying coastal settlement with a population of a few thousands, Otuoke, in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state, has undergone rapid transformation and unprecedented development just for being the birth place of a president, putting behind its poverty, and rapidly emerging into a modern city.

After Mr. Jonathan became president, the town’s poor past dramatically faded with its roads expanded, drained and lit by street lamps.

When the president approved six new universities shortly after taking office, one went to Otuoke, to fill Bayelsa state’s slot.

The transformation of the community has however also brought loads of controversies within the three years of the president’s tenure.

In early 2012, President Jonathan shocked Nigerians when he led his local Anglican Church to receive a curious donation of a 1200-seater auditorium from Italian construction firm, Gitto, a federal contractor that has continued to bid for construction jobs from the administration.

Many Nigerians consider the donation an attempt by the company to curry favour from the president.

When critics raised concerns that by receiving the church gift, the president had  violated his office’s code of conduct which bars him from accepting gifts from government contractors while in office, Mr. Jonathan and his supporters hit back, questioning the rationality of turning down a worship centre donated by a private entity to a community.

The Otuoke community managed to stay out of media glare until 2013 when politicians and government allies again gathered for a fund raiser for the same small church.

At the event, controversial businessman, Arthur Eze, donated N1.2 billion while the Akwa Ibom state governor, Godswill Akpabio donated N230 million purportedly on behalf of 23 governors of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, drawing outrage from Nigerians.

While the community steadied through the controversies, it remained a top destination for high ranking federal government projects, as it effortlessly scooped key road, water, education and health projects, a review of the budgets since 2009 show.

A similar blend of projects is hard to come by in several other poverty-stricken villages across the Niger Delta.

Between 2010 and date, while other communities struggle to receive road and water projects, from the intervention agency, the Niger Delta Development Commission, Otuoke constantly got allocations. By 2012, its focus went beyond roads, and it was given a N2.08 billion “ultra modern market.” The job was handed to Kari Investment Company Limited on November 4.

This year, the community is listed in the budget for a new School of Midwifery, even though it already hosts a federal university.

 


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  • Ndidi

    I would have a problem if GEJ was going to build a hotel or resort or use the money on himself. But a hospital will benefit the people (as well as provide jobs). The Niger Delta environment has been degraded and polluted so anything to help the people there is ok. IBB has looted this nation spending the money on himself yet he has been left alone. This money that GEJ wants to use on the hospital is Niger Delta’s money anyway. It is high time all states (especially since the governors claim their states are all viable) began to generate their own money so that Niger Deltans can use their own God-given money on their own development.

  • Victor

    This is a very pathetic story. Why didn’t you define what a General Hospital is? I am not sure what Premium times is trying to do here with this story. There are no negatives in the story. Rather there are positives….the hospital was completed on time, it is in a rural area, it was approved by the FEC and it was not a donation like the church

  • Isa le

    Mr. Jonathan exercises his presidential powers in favor of himself, his family and his immediate community against the larger interests of Nigeria and Nigerians.

    • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

      Hug transformer

  • Aderoju Campbell

    Useless story , useless website

    • Campbell Aderoju

      Hidden messengers from the GEJ dark press center masquerading as public opinion shame is your name….

  • wax

    “As the administration became aware that PREMIUM TIMES  was making extensive enquiry about the hospital, President Jonathan hurried to Otuoke on Saturday to purportedly inaugurate the 40-bed hospital, which has now been named Otuoke Comprehensive Cottage Hospital.”

    @PM, who are you that the Presidency should be scared of you. This statement is an insult to the President and free minded Nigerians like us condem it. Those your sponsors did the same while in power ( do the maths) and now they are not comfortable with GEJ bringing development to his village where he will probably retire to after his TWO tenures. No amount of falsehood against GEJ will make Nigerians vote TINUBU and CO into aso rock. We know d truth and untill we av an opposition, GEJ will continue or we go our seperate ways. This muslim-hausa-fulani agenda will not work.

    • Sadiq Garba

      @Wax, the fear of the presidency is for PM coming up with this story. And the story is here for all of us to see.

  • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

    PT, you are over reaching with this story.

    Sure, I am not a GEJ supporter, but I refuse to condemn him for this. You have not reported that he stole this money, but have reported that his being President is favouring his community, mind you, not his family!

    If GEJ develops the place some more and I am minded to do so as a Nigerian, I will move to Otuoke to avail myself of the development.

    We do not need to throw away the baby with the dirty bath water.

    • Isa le

      Really? So, what about equity, fairness, transparency, accountability? What about extant rules? What about rule of law? Ever heard of impunity??????

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        Impunity of stealing public funds, yes!

      • domnze

        Where is the equity and fairness in giving admission to Federal schools to Yobe children who scored 2 marks leaving out others of Anambra or Rivers parentage who scored more than 100?

    • Bala Abba

      Soyemi…Shame, shame, shame on you!!

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        Why Bala?

        For not shouting that GEJ is this and that?

        If we have to criticise our rulers, we don’t have to be mono-centric about it. I am being rational and objective here rather being obstructive and destructive with my criticism.

        Put the baby to the breast, put the breast to the baby becomes irrelevant as long as the baby is breastfed.

        If the report had mentioned that the Presidency misappropriated the money and I defend it on whatever parochial grounds, then would I have cause for shame. As it is, I await your reasons for thinking I should be ashamed for applauding the fact that money has been spent making provisions for Nigerian citizens.

        Or should my ‘shame’ stem for supporting this because I am Yoruba by name and this facility has not been built in Abeokuta or Imesi-Ile?

        Get real, friend. I am being practical, not myopic.

        • Abdulkareem A.

          But if all presidents in Nigeria should only be favouring their communities without due process, what will happen to other millions of same? And I think this will heat the political process to become a president and develop individual community. This will and should never happen in properly developed democracies like US, UK, GMNY FRANCE ETC. THINK TWICE PLS FOR NIGERIA TO MOVE FORWARD

    • Dr Jack

      This Premium Times and lies.
      Federal medical centres are not tertiary but secondary health institutions and are on the same level as General hospitals.

      Kindly be informed that health care on the concurrent list in the constitution.

      • domnze

        Even if it is a general hospital, is building hospitals not in the so called MDGs? Which is better, leaving those who host the exploitation of Nigeria’s only source of plundered income to die of curable health problems, or enriching some Danjumas with oil rents they don’t deserve? As many of this kind of amenities that can be sited in Bayelsa, Rivers, IMO, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta and indeed all the oil producing states, the better for Nigeria. Is not good that, at least, we see someone who builds it in Nigeria instead of taking it to South Africa or Dubai? I think that what we should worry about is if they will maintain it, not building it as a monument.

  • Isa le

    What else do you expect from this clueless neophyte?

  • Everest Okafor

    Is Otuoke not part of the federal republic. When you become president, may u abandon your community to abject poverty , lack of health facilities, roads, portable water etc. Ini Ekott it shall be so with you.

  • nija pikin

    I think Nigerians shld stop regarding GEJ as nigerias president no he is not our president but the president of nija delta where is the fairness he shld have sited similar hospital in each of the geo political zone, and you come to tell us rubbish about IBB and Abacha looting don’t forget they perfom far better than GEJ on security of the whole country, on state creation(I.e Bayelsa), on Health of all nigerians, on road construction and maintainance, on educationa, unity of the whole country not a section as is presently done by The nija delta president pretending to be nigerias president etc

  • Mamman Bako

    Poor journalism, where are the pictures?

    • Gej

      well i think the writer is more than a bastard!!!!

    • Abdulkareem A.

      Must picture be here before the story be authentic? poor judgement.

  • Emmyanugom

    Looking at the picture of the said hospital, it looks submerged inside a river or ocean. I feel deeply for that community. The writer did not tell us if there are duplicate of such project in that community, surly if there are, the writer would have said so. From my opinion the community deserves even more whether the president is from there or not, God has merely anwered there prayers. I bet you, if there is any of you in the president’s position and would not do even more for his community, let him be the first to cast the stone.

  • emmanuel

    I did comment yesterday on PT write up on Tinubu appointment of his daughter as the head of markets in Lagos.

    True to that comment, you have shown that unacceptable practices are not to be mentioned when committed by your Lord – the only individual, who indirectly collect money (steal) from every Nigeran from the Wharf landing charges on every import payable to Lagos state with Tinubu’s built-in.

    Hypocrites!

    A friend who returned from the USA last night proclaimed the signifact improvement in our gateway(MMA). i was proud to know that Nigeria now works. Not the new face of Lagos is workong with so mich monies and little progress.

    • Nonso

      Airports that are constructed without tender…is this not 2015 fund raiser strategy?

      • Afam

        Are you sure your well at all? who told you the airport was not budgeted for? please say what you know,all the 11 airports under going re-modelling were in the budget and approved by the senate and house of reps..

        • Nonso

          Idiocy begins with ignorance Afam…to budget for a project is not the same as offering tenders for them…only you members of the discredited team of GEJ loudspeakers writing from all dark corners of Abuja and who are blind folding themselves, pretend that records are not being kept for tomorrow about the 2015 fund raising games going on in town. The day of reckoning is around the corner.

  • Afam

    As i always say,Premium Times your days are numbered….Junk journalism with poor people managing an online news site just to discredit GEJ by all means.

  • dan

    Premium times, go and sit down! You thought this was a negative story against GEJ, but you got it all wrong. If you are sick and you go there from any part of the country would you be turned away? Is the hospital not for all, especially the common people all over the community, state and country? As someone else has commented, when you get to a position of influence, don’t bring development to the community you hail from, okay!

  • akpos11

    Look at the Gross contribution to Federation account of Continent Nigeria

    1. South South Country (SS) —> 62%

    2. South East Country (SE) —> 37.5%

    3. South West Country (SW) —> 0.5 %

    4. North East Country (NE) —> 0%

    5. North West Country (NW) —> 0%

    6. North Central Country (NC) –>0%

    What is the use of countries 3-6?

    If PremiumTimes were not stupid they should have known that Bayelsa alone contributes close to 25% to the federation account every month. Bayelsa has enough resources to feed all of its peoples and pay each citizen $10,000 every month. This is not exaggeration. It is a fact that we all know.

    Gone are those days when the media was used against the oil producing states. Never again. Certainly not now. How dare a media house cast aspersion on the Presidency for building a hospital not for himself but for the people? Are the residents of Bayelsa not human beings? Goodness! The stupidity of PremiumTimes & Sahara Reporters is getting really morbid. Bcos you must criticize a president just bcos he is neither Hausa nor Yoruba does not mean that you resort to this guguru ekpai journalism. It is the height of insanity & ethical blunder. See how much lines you wasted not in saying money has been stolen but that the Presidency took over a function of state govt. If a man is sick, will the sickness react to the arm of government that built the hospital? Nonsense.

    My dear SS & SE oil producing countries, this is a wake up call, sorry a reminder (becos we have long woken up), that we MUST control our resources. See how they rubbished Jonvthan when Musa was down with HIV. They did not even allow him as VP to see the President for over 9months. Is that NORMAL? Will that happen in any other country in the world or another planet? That a sitting VP cannot see his boss bcos he is from the South South?

    The oil producing peoples have been patient enough. We’ve watched how the West & North have ruuined our resources for 51yrs. We say NO. Not anymore. We shall control our resources from now on. No matter the media schemings, no matter how many Sahara Reporters & PremiumTimes which were BLIND, DEAF & DUMB for 51yrs when their brothers from the North & West were in charge. You say u want a pius government, then break away & leave my oil&gas wealth alone. Leave the Niger Delta alone. We dont want Nigeria. GO GO GO. Idiots. You will not make noise about Shell & Chevron oil spills of last 3 weeks, it is hospital projects. Pure nonsense. God bless the United Republic of the SS&SE oil producing countries of continent Nigeria.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole

    President Jonathan is a well noted systemic official corruption practioner and one of the clueless,inept non-performance president Nigeria ever had.
    Earlier about a year ago president Jonathan personally requested the rebuilding of his traditional home town Anglican-church,by an Italian owned Federal government construction company who eventually rebuilt the old Anglican Church,Otuoke as a bribe at the request of president Jonathan for his home town.
    Now again president Jonathan is committing further official corruption act by unconstitutionally disregarding the rules and regulations of Nigeria Federal Government by ordering the construction of a Federal Medical Center,in Otuoke which is against the Federal Government practice.
    President Jonathan is pure symbol of official corruption and shall pay for such crime after he leave office.President Jonathan is involve in looting of Nigeria oil funds and embezzlement of our commonwealths are growing under his watch.What is not good is not good and corruption practice is corruption act committed by corrupt president Jonathan.

    • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

      Mumu

  • Dominic’s

    My friend how dare u insult Musa Yar’Adua dat he had HIV? Since dat is wat came out of ur mouth u will surely be down with HIV, iJn

  • Okuborie

    This Illusionistic, and hallucinatory Akpos11 comments above that: “If PremiumTimes were not stupid they should have known that Bayelsa alone contributes close to 25% to the federation account every month. Bayelsa has enough resources to feed all of its peoples and pay each citizen $10,000 every month. This is not exaggeration. It is a fact that we all know.”

    What Nigerians want to see not hear from rented crowd of commentators is JUST DO IT!
    And have you ever heard of countries without oil that are doing better than those with oil [without brains]?

    What is the price of a rented commentator these days?

  • 100%Naija

    Another systemic monumental waste and drain of public funds. As is often the case in Nigeria, the true test is sustaining the maintenance and economic viability of these huge projects post Jonathan administration. The same reason our clueless political leaders will always shop around for cronies to succeed them to maintain their errors while in office. These may very well end up a massive drain on successive Bayelsa administration.

  • Sagba

    AS LONG AS THE BENEFITING COMMUNITY IS IN NIGERIA AND THE PEOPLE ARE NIGERIANS, THE PRESIDENT HAS SIMPLY SPENT NIGERIAN MONEY FOR NIGERIANS IN OTUOKE! ON THIS STORY, I DON’T AGREE WITH PT!

  • francis oban

    well he has don the right thing anyway! but he did it in a mistake,,,,,,,,,,why did he keep it as a secrete…..who will holl him if he says he wants to do it.the worst part is that people will mormorn and that all,,,so people will call that which he did selfishness when we dont even have a standard hospitals in some big states in naija……na wa o.well thank writer for bringing this to our view….