In mid-July, the Federal Government announced plans to revamp 10,000 primary healthcare centres across the country to provide quality health service delivery, particularly to rural dwellers. Three months after, YEKEEN AKINWALE embarks on a fact-finding tour of some contracts awarded for primary healthcare centres in four southeast states: Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia. He presents his findings in this disheartening report.
‘Oga, na here you go come down,’ the driver announces in Pidgin English. After about 20 minutes’ drive from Obollo Afor, he pulls over his rickety bus to the side of the road for the journalist) to disembark. He zooms off immediately and once the smoke from his bus settles, the search continues — the search for Obollo Ile community.
OBOLLO ILE AND OFIAMBELA… HOME OF ‘GHOST PROJECTS’?
After asking at least 10 different people at Obollo Afor, the headquarters of Udenu Local Government, about the location of Obollo Ile, there is still no clue. Everyone claims there are only Obollo Eke and Obollo Etiti communities in the local government but records of uncompleted primary health care centres across Nigeria obtained from National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) mention a certain Obollo Ile.
“Oga, na Obollo Eke you dey go,” says the driver who convinces his passenger to board his bus from Obollo Afor market. “We no get anywhere wey be Obollo Ile here, na Obollo Eke and I go carry you reach there.”
So, all of them insist the place is Obollo Eke village. Therefore, the journey in a bus returning from the market to the village is inevitable.
All signposts by the roadside say Obollo Eke; could it be a typographical error in the record that says Obollo Ile? Maybe. But the village is not the subject of the ultimate search, rather an uncompleted primary healthcare facility awarded in 2005 by the Federal Government. And, according to information made available by NPHCDA, the project is located at Obollo Ile, Udenu Local Government, Enugu State. It was awarded to Abduk Nigeria Limited at the sum of N19.1million. But 12 years after the contract award, there is no trace of the project.
After another 20 minutes’ trek from the main road through erosion-ravaged road that leads to Obollo Eke Market Square, there stands in the bush a signpost reading: ‘Early Child Bed Clinic’ — an old healthcare centre with pre-independence buildings looking recently painted but almost taken over by weeds.
NO WATER, NO LIGHT IN UDENU LG’s OLDEST HEALTH CENTRE
“This clinic was built before independence,” says a very courteous Ogbonna Bibiana, the officer in charge of the clinic while responding to a question on whether it is the one awarded by FG in 2005.
“And this place is Obollo Eke, not Obollo Ile; in fact, there is no village like that here,” she quips, leading her guest to one of the empty hospital wards with scanty beds.
Bibiana could not have been wrong; there is nothing at the health centre to suggest it was constructed about 12 years ago. The facility does not have the look of a model primary healthcare centre. It has no source of water.
“We rely on rain and stream water here because we don’t have well or a borehole,” she says, and there is no electricity; kerosene lantern and torch are what they use at night even if there are women in labour to attend to.
What looks like a toilet project in the premises of the clinic is an abandoned pit said to have been started and abandoned by UNICEF.
“UNICEF said they were constructing toilets and providing water,” she says. “They just dug and left more than a month ago.”
In a community with a high number of local birth attendants, the clinic is not a choice for many pregnant women despite the risks involved. There is no doctor at the government healthcare facility, the real reason most men in the village discourage their pregnant wives from seeking care at the centre.
“Pregnant women don’t even patronise the centre due to a lack of facilities and manpower. We have no doctor; we are only community extension workers,” says Bibiana, a Principal Health Extension Worker.
Showing apparent neglect by the local authority, the Early Child Clinic itself is a source of diseases, with offensive odour oozing from two filled pit latrines.
“We don’t have placenta pit; the latrines also serve as placenta pits,” she reveals. When both the workers and patients want to defecate, we make use of the bush.”
And just behind the hospital building are disposed syringes and needles and other wastes from the centre, in a small carton. The beds are broken down and covered by dust, while the compound has been overtaken by cassava and maize farm owned by Bibiana’s family.
Despite all these, some villagers still patronise the healthcare centre, albeit with reservations. Mamah Everestus, a community leader who brought his daughter for malaria treatment that morning, laments the condition of the centre.
“Government is supposed to fund the health centre well; no water, no generator, no toilet, no placenta pit, no drugs,” he fumes. “They are supposed to see what the people in the community are suffering and all of them are eating in Abuja. Look at grasses in a health centre, no worker to cut the grasses.”
But where is Obollo Ile? She suggests it might be the new health centre at Obollo Ishielu or a village called Amutenyi. “It may be at Amutenyi because that is where they have a new health center.”
A ride on a bike from Obollo Eke market square to Obollo Ishielu revealed another health centre, newly built but under lock and key even at 10am. It was constructed in 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) projects. There was no one around. Residents, including Bibiana, claim that the centre was giving free drugs to villagers when it was newly opened, which was one major reason pregnant women chose it over the Early Childhood Clinic. However, it does not open until 10am.
With Ekwueme Silas, Head of the Department of Health, away in Enugu attending a workshop, no one is willing to speak. Others claim they have no permission to talk. Those who volunteer to speak anonymously say there is no village as Obollo Ile.
But when Silas speaks through telephone conversation, he says there might be a mistake in the spelling of the name of the community. Though he says there have been rumours about an abandoned healthcare project in the local government.
“…people used to say there is an abandoned project somewhere,” he says. “But I have not come across such a project since 2016 when I assumed office.
“I have not been able to understand the particular community…Obollo and then gini? Yes, there is Obollo Eke, Obollo Etiti and Obollo Ishielu, probably because you may have gotten the name wrong but we have Obollo-Oye. It’s like Obollo-Oye you want to call.”
When he was told that what is in the record of NPHCDA is Obollo-Ile, Silas replies, “there is no place like that.”
Could it be that the Federal Government awarded a N19million ghost project? So it seems.
Udenu Local Government in Enugu State is not the only place where a funded Model Primary Healthcare project is untraceable. Elsewhere in Ukwa West Local Government, Abia State, another N16 million Model Primary Healthcare project awarded in 2004 to Emjec Nigeria Limited could not be found.
According to a record of uncompleted primary healthcare centres across the country obtained by the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) from NPHCDA, the project is located at Ofiambela in Ukwa East Local Government, Abia State.
After more than two hours searching through Obeaku Village, Ohambelle (the supposed Ofiambella) and back to Ukwa West Local Government secretariat, it becomes clear that there is nowhere known as Ofiambella, just as there is no uncompleted model primary healthcare centre in the village. Did the Federal Government again award a ghost project in a ghost community?
An existing health centre on the main road of Ohambelle, constructed by Adolphus Wabara, a former Senate President, during his second tenure as the local government chairman of Ukwa West in 1998, is begging for repair.
Ohambelle health centre constructed by Adolphus Wabara, former Senate President when he was the local government chairman
“We don’t have a federal government constructed primary healthcare here in Ohambelle,” says Florence Ekeke, who works at Ohambelle Health Centre.
Ngozi Emeka, Head of Health Department at the local government secretariat, confirms the non-existence of such a project, saying: “We have 33 healthcare centres in this local government but we don’t have any project in Ohambelle that is under construction or that is uncompleted. Even the one in that community is dilapidated. To the best of my knowledge, there is none like what you are looking for.”
Like Obollo-Ile, Ofiambella, from all indications, appears to be a ghost village with a ghost primary healthcare project.
EXPIRED DRUGS, LEAKING ROOFS… THE DILAPIDATED AMABOKU HEALTH CENTRE
Despite a fairly large turnout of nursing mothers, pregnant women and elderly citizens at the health centre that Wednesday morning, Okpe Martina, Principal Community Health Extension Worker who heads Amaboku Healthcare Centre, Igbo Etiti Local Government in Enugu State, says it is hard to give up on attending to the health needs of the people. Just that the tools to work with are decaying.
Ozor Raphael, a retired school teacher, says the entire community would be seen to have failed were the health centre closed down despite its precarious situation.
It has 14 bed spaces, though all are dusty. Amaboku Health Centre, awarded in 2004 at the cost of N16,540,331.49 has fallen in standard both in infrastructure and personnel. Showing apparent signs of neglect by the relevant authorities, the health centre is an example of failure of government to treat primary healthcare as the cornerstone of a stronger and resilient public health system.
The laboratory at the centre does not work because of lack of manpower to manage it; a doctor comes from Nsukka twice a week and anytime else there is an emergency.
There ought to be resident doctors at the clinic but the residential apartment constructed for that purpose in 2013 under MDGs project is still uncompleted. Four years after, the building remains without windows and doors — an example of disconnect between government policymaking and implementation.
With falling ceiling, leaking roofs, expired drugs, power outage, Amaboku Primary Healthcare Centre needs rehabilitation. Disconnected by the electricity distribution company for the past eight years, the local authorities could not raise N30, 000 said to be the centre’s debt.
“If we have money, we buy fuel to power the generator, but if we don’t have we use lantern at night,” she reveals.
Despite an application to the local government authority by Martina in May 2017 requesting for renovation of the only public health institution in the village, nothing has been. Due to the leaking roofs, the centre is flooded each time it rains. Even the room that serves as drug store ends up waterlogged.
“We need help for this place, you are seeing water because it is rainy season. Once it is dry season, we don’t have water; we buy water to flush toilets or go into the bush,” says Martina.
The local government health secretary could not be reached; she was also in Enugu attending a week-long workshop.
Covered in the dust are drugs that have already expired…their manufacture and expiry dates read 2005 to 2008. Next to drug shelves is a microscope with obsolete lens. She says the drugs were already expired at the time of supply just as the microscope has never worked since it was supplied.
Why are the drugs still being kept on the shelves? Martina says only personnel of National Agency for Foods, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are empowered to remove the drugs and dispose them.
Evidently, the Federal Government, through the NPHCDA, does not follow through many of the contracts awarded for the construction of the healthcare centres.
The solar panel installed to provide alternative energy for the centre since its commission has never worked. It was abandoned in a corner under the cover of darkness and taken over by dust and cobwebs.
The same goes for the water reservoir, which was not well constructed, according to workers at the facility. Thus, it leaks and cannot hold water. Toilets are filled with unflushed defecation. Workers and visitors at the centre rush into the bush when nature calls. The hospital windows are without mosquito nets.
This is despite the first global healthcare ranking report that placed Nigeria at 140th position with 51 points on Healthcare Access and Quality Index. The ranking is based on a quantification of personal access and quality for 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2015.
According to the study, published in the May 18, 2017 edition of the medical journal, the Lancet, Nigeria lagged far behind other leading African nations in a new global healthcare report. Nigeria couldn’t have fared better with all these indices.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says; “Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world.”
With health centres like Amaboku’s, child and maternal mortality would no doubt be on the rise in the country.
THE PEOPLE ARE FRUSTRATED
The people of Etitioma Nkporo, in Ohafia Local Government, Abia State, are still waiting for mother luck to smile on them so that they may enjoy the dividends of democracy. They are yet to feel the real presence of both the federal and state governments — there are no good roads to the community and there are no good healthcare facilities.
Despite being the community of Ude Oko Chukwu, the current Deputy Governor of the state, Etitioma Nkporo, the largest of the eight communities in the locality, has been struggling to see the completion of an abandoned primary healthcare centre awarded more than 10 years ago. They are still hoping for an intervention from the Federal Government, after the contractor, Masta Services Nigeria Limited, abandoned the project.
Awarded at the cost of N17million by the Federal Government to Masta Services Limited in 2004 when 120 of such were approved for construction nationwide, what is supposed to be a model primary health centre at the village is now home to lunatics, drug addicts and urchins who have also turned it to their toilet. Sitting on an expansive plot of land and looking over the palatial house of the Deputy Governor, the building is roofed but has no windows and doors.
“For over 10 years, that project has been abandoned … and that has taken us back. We have lost the use of drugs. We have over a million naira worth of drugs sent to the community. Parts of the equipment are spoilt already,” says the Egwugwo of Amudu, Eze Innocent Ume.
“We don’t have road, we have worried the federal government to give us just a road. Our people say two legs are not good to be bad, but now we have five legs, none is good. We have five outlets leading outside, none is good. If somebody is sick before you carry him to Ohafia, at times you take Ikem to Igbere before you go to Ohafia. The other health center does not have anything; no doctor, no laboratory. There is nothing there and we have been reporting to the local government authority.”
Has the community folded its arms over the abandoned projects and the health needs of the people? No, says the monarch. The community development union has met with Mau Ohuabunwa, the senator representing Abia North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, on the fate of the facility.
“About two weeks ago, our people, led by the chairman of Nkporo Development Union (NDU), went to Mau to ask about the project. He told them that about N50million has been approved for the completion. He told the Chairman of Nkporo Development Union that the sum of N50million had been approved,” he says.
Ohuabunwa is also member of Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases.
The monarch confirms that the lawmaker sponsored the project when he was a member of the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2007. But he doesn’t know the contractor handling the project.
Further findings by the ICIR, however, show that Masta Services Limited, the company handling the abandoned project, was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in 1992, with one Ugo Ohuabunwa as its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. If Ugo Ohuabunwa is a relative of the Senator, it is a clear violation of the 2007 Procurement Act.
The lawmaker was unavailable for comments. Calls to his constituency telephone number were unanswered, while messages sent to the same number went un-replied.
Elsewhere in Okposi Umuoghara, Ezza North Local Government, Ebonyi State, it is a tale of lamentation for parents who, after taking their sick children to the only healthcare centre in the area, cannot get them treated.
It is known as Comprehensive Health Centre, but nothing is as depleted and “uncomprehensive” as the facility. At 9am, no one is at the centre. But as soon as a lady steps down from a motorbike and unlocks the main entrance to what appears a town hall, parents with their kids come in droves. By 9:29 am when a fat woman who would later turn out to be the officer in charge of the centre climbs down from another bike, there are more than 10 children in the hall awaiting treatment.
On the day, seven children test positive to malaria. Their fate hangs in the balance, as there is no drug to treat them, except injection which, according to Peace Ohike, the officer in charge of the centre, is the last resort.
Okoposi is ravaged by malaria; the centre records more than 40 cases daily. Yet, there are no drugs to treat them.
Nwane Virgilus, a father of four, is at the former development centre now designated Pilot Model Health Centre by the State government with two of his children who are down with malaria. Victory Nwane, three years old, and Shedrach Nwane, five years old, look pale and weak. Both, like Nweze Kosarachi (six) and Nweze Ifesinachi (five), rest on the wooden benches at the centre.
“Malaria is reigning here. It is a major challenge here. Many people burnt their mosquito nets when they were given during the governorship tenure of Elechi Martins, thinking it was a political gift. Now, we don’t have enough nets,” Ohike says as she takes the blood sample of a sick kid.
When women go into labour at night, lantern and torch come to the rescue as the centre was long disconnected from the power source due to an undisclosed amount of debt. The labour room that has no light is also where women for family planning insertion are attended to.
But while parents and their wards struggle to get healthcare at the former development centre, now Pilot Primary Centre in Okposi Umuoghara, the N21.9million National Primary Healthcare Centre that ought to bring relief to people of the area wastes away under lock and key near Nwuomah Primary School.
It was awarded in 2014 and handled by Stephanie Michael Nigeria Limited. Overtaken by weeds, the well-painted and fenced facility from appearance could be ready for use. But the reason it has remained locked is not known. The contractor, Stephanie Michael Nigeria Limited, is apparently not registered, as it has no records with the CAC.
In a clear case of disconnect between politicians and their constituents, residents of Okposi Umuoghara do not even know that the facility is meant to serve them.
Even where the abandoned healthcare centre is located, nobody knows that it is meant to serve them. The construction signpost that should provide information about it was on the ground, taken over by weeds and used as food by termites feed on it.
Victoria Chinedu, a pregnant housewife whose house is adjacent the facility, does not know what the building is meant for. But for her antenatal care, she pays N50 for a tricycle ride to the development centre. “We go to the development centre for antenatal and immunisation,” she said.
After his kids were given injection instead of malaria drugs, a disappointed Virgilus said that many people in the community thought the abandoned primary healthcare centre was a political project sponsored by Peter Edeh, a former member of House Representatives representing Ezza North and Ishielu Federal Constituency. Yes, it is actually a constituency project. However, since he lost his reelection bid, the project has been neglected.
“We don’t know that place is a primary health centre,” he says. “We only know that Honourable Peter is the one behind it.”
LIKE OKPOSI, LIKE NKALAHA
At Nkalaha, Ishielu Local Government, Ebonyi, nursing mothers such as Ada Ugochukwu prefer to take their babies or themselves to Amofun community in distant Enugu State. Holding her sick son to her chest and trying to maneuver her way round the bad road, Ugochukwu says she is taking her son to Amofun for treatment because the health centre at Nkalaha has no doctor or qualified nurse.
Ugochukwu says the bad road to Nkalaha health centre and non-availability of a doctor are the reasons she prefers hospital in Amofun, Enugu State
They have enough reasons. From Gedegede village to Nkaleha, it is easier for a horse to pass the eye of a needle than for human beings to navigate the road to the village. It is deplorable. Then, a newly constructed model primary healthcare is also under lock and keys. It has been taken over by bushes.
The only primary healthcare centre serving the whole community exists just in name. It has no doctor; instead, it relies on stream water for treatment of patients. Pregnant women in the village make use of birth attendants when in labour rather than the centre, even if they had sought antenatal care there.
Ebe Rosemary, who heads the centre, says there is no visiting or resident doctor at the centre. The shelves are filled with expired drugs.
Speaking on why the centre has not been opened for public use, the contractor, Status Global Services Limited, who handled the N21.9million project awarded in 2014, claims he uses his personal money to undertake the project.
His words: “Most of the projects are constituency projects. Most of them are not backed by cash and that is what led to the collapse of the job. Why this one is done is that I used my personal money and I’m using my contacts to recover my money.
“The project was awarded in 2014 but the letter of award was collected almost about May 2015 and it was already 2016 when we finished the signing of relevant documents; we finished the whole job by 2016.”
NOTHING MODEL ABOUT OROGWE MODEL PRIMARY HEALTHCARE CENTRE
Despite her old age and a threatening high blood pressure, Madam Abigail manages to cross the waterlogged roads to the health centre. She has high hopes that her rising blood pressure would be lowered once she gets to Orogwe Primary Healthcare Centre in Owerri West Local Government of Imo State. She comes to the centre on a regular basis for check-up.
But the 80-year-old mother of four would later be disappointed — indeed she sits with dejection in a white plastic chair as Onogbo Augustina, an environmental health officer in charge of the centre, breaks the news to her. The equipment to measure her blood pressure, sphygmomanometer, had broken down the previous night, so there was no way she could be attended to.
Revealing her total grey hair after removing her headscarf, Madam Abigail, as she is fondly addressed by people in the community, speaks in Igbo of her frustrations about the clinic.
“Please tell them [the Federal Government] that there are old people here. They should bring plenty medicine,” she says, facing the journalist.
Her fate at the clinic is a daily occurrence that many endure due to apparent lack of facilities and tools to work with by the health workers. But that is not the only thing that is not working at the centre. Everything about it is not right.
Orogwe Primary Healthcare Centre was among the 120 primary healthcare centres awarded in 2004 by the Federal Government for construction as part of measures to address the healthcare needs of Nigerians at the grassroots.
But 13 years after, the centre remains an uncompleted facility. Awarded at the cost of N16millon to Crossland, an unregistered company, it was not occupied until 2015 when authorities at Owerri West Local Government closed down what was known as the temporary health centre. It was later converted to a Customary Court.
“We were using the temporary site before we moved here. In 2015, we were told that government wanted to use the place, so they pushed us to this permanent site but nothing is working here,” says Augustina as she conducts the ICIR reporter around the facility.
They were forced to occupy the new healthcare centre despite lacking doors, electricity, water and other essential facilities. Visitors are welcome to the centre by broken floors devoid of tiles, non-functioning electrical installations and security attachment.
“There is no water at the centre; there is no electricity, the generator is faulty and the plumbing system is not good. The injection room has no light, dispensary room has no light and we use candle and lantern at night to deliver women who are in labour,” she laments.
Findings revealed that all the electrical installations have not functioned since 2015 when the centre became operational because the project was never completed. The security house, which is just by the main gate to the centre, has neither door nor window. By the contract details and specifications, the centre ought to have doors and windows, and tiled floors. All these were conspicuously not there. The mattresses are with no cover or bed spread.
“Only the labour room and the adjoining room have tiles, but they were done by the community. None of the rooms has doors,” Augustina reveals.
There are only 10 workers at the centre: community health extension workers headed by a Principal Extension Health Worker. The workers’ morale is dead. They are owed salaries by the local government. In 2015, they were owed for eight months.
However, this is not an isolated case; the situation is not different elsewhere in Omuma, Oru East Local Government, Imo State where rainfall is the main source of water at the healthcare centre. Pipes are channeled from the roofs to storage tank to get water for the health centre’s use. The motorised borehole is not functioning. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, whom the facility is meant to serve, don’t usually patronise it.
ICIR gathered that pregnant women who attend the health centre for antenatal prefer to deliver elsewhere for security reason.
“This place is not secured and for security reason, when they go into labour at night, they go elsewhere,” says Ugoeze Ebighi Euharia who heads the centre.
The centre has not seen electricity since it was opened. “For more than four years, there has been no light here. In fact, since this place was opened there has never been a light.”
Like the Orogwe Health Centre, Omuma’s electricity bulbs and ceiling fans are also mere cosmetics; they have never worked. The outpatient ward floor and those of toilets were also not tiled. The generating set meant to power the 12-bed centre is not working. It has unoccupied quarters for nurses and doctors, but Eucharia says the size of the quarters could not accommodate married health workers ought to be resident at the centre.
“As you can see, we don’t have security, we don’t have accommodation here. If we have accommodation, people will be trooping here,” she says. But despite Orogwe and Omuma having no required facilities to function well, they still serve the people of the community.
GOVERNMENT NOT UNAWARE OF ABANDONED PROJECTS NATIONWIDE
The Federal Government is notorious for awarding contracts without cash backing or what is known in legislative parlance as budgetary allocation. From 1998 till date, there have been several abandoned projects nationwide due to lack of budgetary allocation.
The health sector is not an exemption. Disregard for due process in contract award, violation of the 2007 Procurement Act and misdemeanour by contractors are reasons contracts for healthcare centres are either untraceable, abandoned or haphazardly done.
There are 805 abandoned primary healthcare centres across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, which were awarded between 2004 and 2015. These projects have gulped N25.2billion, out of which the south-east region accounts for N5.8billion (23percent of the total). In south-east alone, there are 98 of these projects, which are either abandoned or untraceable.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Executive Director of NPHCDA on the status of the contracts and procurement details was not responded to before the end of the statutory seven days. However, an official of the agency says government is unaware of many abandoned projects across the country.
The top official, who asked not to be named, speaks on the failure of government to back up many contracts awarded with budget.
“We are not unaware of abandoned health centres nationwide. Based on many newspaper reports and security reports, everybody knows about 1001 abandoned projects by the government all over the federation not only in the health sector,” he says.
“A lot of NGOs are working with the National Assembly to amend appropriation in such a way that projects that you have awarded, for instance in 2016, and are not completed, how do you include them in 2017 budget?
“If you don’t include them in 2017 budget, how do you get them completed? Those you awarded in 2017, maybe the Federal Government is just releasing fresh capital allocation now. This is what accounts for most of the abandoned projects nationwide.”
“If you look at 2017 now, 2017 budget, how many times has the Federal Government released the capital vote for the 2017 budget? Maybe they are just releasing the first one, maybe not yet cash-backed and we are going to October. So, in three months, the year will end. Consider yourself a contractor; maybe you are awarded a contract in October or November and before you know it the year ended and they say no money and then you are talking of 2018 budget.
“You now have a situation spiraling that, in 2018, the contract that you are doing, you have not collected your money but it gets transferred in 2018 appropriation. That is part of what is responsible for most of the abandoned projects.”
Sampson Parker, a former Commissioner of Health in Rivers State, shares the same view. According to Parker, government awards contract without following through.
“Government needs to appoint management committee at the local government level to oversee these projects. People award contracts here in Abuja without following through. If there is a policy and we follow through with proper funding, there won’t be the problem of abandoning of projects.”
He laments that award of contracts has been politicised by political office holders, who site contracts in their localities without the political will to execute it.
Placement of projects has been politicised. Before they were criticising it and later it became a political thing that if you don’t have it in your area, you are not a big man.”
But he adds that the governments at the three tiers need political will and political leadership to bring the nation’s health sector out of the woods, because “Nigeria’s health indices are worrisome and among the worst in the world”.
In July 2016, the Federal Government said it secured a loan of $500 million (N180billion) to bring the 10,000 primary healthcare centres in the country back to life in order to meet the health needs of rural communities.
Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, had said every state in the country would receive the sum of $1.5 million (N540million) to kickstart the revamp of the critical health sector.
The south-east states comprising Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia and Anambra were to get N2.7billion for the rehabilitation of primary health care centres in their respective domain. The loan was sourced from the World Bank under its ‘Saving One Million Lives’ programmes. Unfortunately, if you ask one million people in that region today, they will tell you they haven’t been saved!
This report was originally published by International Centre for Investigative Reporting. We republished with its permission.