Rescued Chibok girl needs major surgery as Nigerian govt trades blames with AUN

A cross-section of the 82 Chibok schoolgirls recently freed from the Boko Haram terrorists who were handed to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Al-Hassan by the Department of State Security Service (DSS), in Abuja on Tuesday (30/5/17). The Ministry is to immediately commence a comprehensive process of the girls’ rehabilitation. 
02910/30/5/2017/Anthony Alabi/BJO/NAN
A cross-section of the 82 Chibok schoolgirls recently freed from the Boko Haram terrorists who were handed to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Al-Hassan by the Department of State Security Service (DSS), in Abuja on Tuesday (30/5/17). The Ministry is to immediately commence a comprehensive process of the girls’ rehabilitation. 02910/30/5/2017/Anthony Alabi/BJO/NAN

For the past three weeks, Kolo Adamu has slept on the floor beside her daughter Naomi’s hospital bed in North-east Nigeria, unable to afford the surgery she needs for a kidney condition.

Naomi, 27, was one of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, North-east Nigeria, in April 2014. She is among the 82 girls freed by the jihadists in May after negotiations with the Nigerian government, adding to 24 others who were released or found last year.

After months of counselling and medical care in the capital, Abuja, as part of a state rehabilitation programme, the government sponsored the girls to start a special catch-up course in September at the American University of Nigeria, AUN, in Yola.

Naomi and five of her Chibok classmates enrolled at the AUN are suffering due to injuries inflicted during their time in captivity – from shrapnel in their bodies to fractured bones – said Yakubu Nkeki of the Chibok parents’ association.

Yet the government and the university are passing the buck on paying for their healthcare, according to the girls’ parents – mostly farmers – who say they are unable to cover the costs.

“The school said that they are not responsible, that the government is supposed to take care of everything,” Naomi’s mother Adamu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“At first, the hospital gave her drip and medicine, but for the past four days they haven’t given her any because they said the medicine is finished,” added Adamu, who said she feels helpless and cries every time her daughter screams in pain.

“The doctor has not shown up. I am confused.”

A spokeswoman for the ministry of women’s affairs said the school fees paid by the government include medical bills.

“The federal government has handed over the girls to their parents after paying their school fees and everything,” said Suleiman Dantsoho. “The school should take care of her (Naomi).”

The AUN however said the university only offers primary healthcare to students, which it said does not extend to surgeries at government hospitals.

The spokesperson for the university, Dan Okereke, said, “We agree with the Ministry of Women Affairs, all of our students, including the young women from Chibok, are covered at our AUN Health Centre on campus, this is accurate.  All students pay a health centre fee at AUN, whether AUN students or the young women from Chibok, and this fee covers the cost of the care at our AUN Health Centre on campus.
“Our AUN Health Centre on campus is not a hospital, but it does provide basic health care for routine medical illnesses.  When a student has a health issue that is beyond our AUN Health Centre, we inform the student’s parents and refer the student to FMC-Yola, which we have done with our student.  We look forward to her return to our learning community soon.”

Chibok parents are irritated by the buckpassing between government and the university. “This is not the reality we arranged with President Buhari,” said Nkeki, chairman of the Chibok parents’ association.

“They said they will take care of our daughters … make sure that they don’t suffer again,” he added.

“BURDEN”

The pain in Naomi’s abdomen began in captivity, but a doctor kidnapped by Boko Haram treated her with medicine, she said.

Naomi was referred to a government hospital in Yola last month after a scan at the AUN’s clinic revealed that she had a kidney condition, and the school’s doctor recommended surgery.

“The pain is too much. Anything I eat, I vomit,” Naomi said over the phone, her voice weak and barely audible.

Their three weeks together in hospital is the longest period Naomi and her mother have spent together since the abduction, which sparked an international outcry and a viral campaign on social media with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls.

But each day has been fraught with pain and tears.

Sometimes, the pain in her abdomen is so intense that Naomi rolls about on the floor or soaks herself in cold water.

“She told me that if she knew her health would be such a burden on me, she would have stayed back in the forest,” said Adamu, who had to rely on donations to pay for the five-hour journey from Chibok to Yola. “That statement pained me so much.”

Naomi worries about her mother, and tries to console her.

“If they will not pay my medical bill then they should allow me back in school, so that she can go back to Chibok,” she said.

(This story was first published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. We have the author’s permission to republish.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated with comments by authorities at the American University of Nigeria.


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  • Oladele

    How much is the cost that a govt is passing buck? How much was paid AUN that included surgery? Maybe we “Gofundme” for her like for the slain police man.

  • Gary

    It is beyond the pale for the Chibok girls to survive the ordeal of slavery only to become political pawns in the escalating estrangement between Abubakar Atiku and the Buhari loyalists in the APC.
    Please STOP the nonsense and leave the Chibok Girls out of the power struggle for the 2019 elections. This is so callous and indecent to play politics with the lives of these young women. Have they not suffered enough?

  • Mentus

    POOR POEPLE’S LIVES MATTER. Millions of naira was spent to keep one life going, so much more is being spent sponsoring others for oversea treatment, and yet what could work out to cost less than one million naira is being denied this poor girl. This is even as the Boko Haram member she possibly was traded for is enjoying freedom now. This government should hide its face in shame.

  • Frank Bassey

    What happened to the billions of Naira being voted, approved and disbursed through the Presidential Initiative on North East headed by Gen. TY Danjuma? What happened to the huge amount paid into Presidential Initiative for North East headed by the grass-cutter, Babachir Lawal? NNPC, through its subsidiary NAPIMS, has now ordered all operators in the oil industry to contribute $100 million par annum – still on North East and its people. Recently, we saw photographs of school buildings erected through these intervention funds. So, why cannot these girls be treated? Or, are the Northern leaders only interested in award of contracts to loot the fund like Babachir Lawal? The Chibok girls and their communities must bear in mind that their fate is in their own hands. This is just the beginning …