Eight years after, Turai Yar’Adua’s multi-billion naira cancer centre converted to beans farm

Photo of Turai Yar'adua Cancer Centre that has converted to beans plantation
Turai Yar'adua Cancer Centre that has converted to beans plantation (Photo taken by Idris Ibrahim, 03/12/2017)

After being abandoned for eight years, the multi-billion naira International Cancer Centre, ICCA, an initiative of former Nigerian First Lady, Turai Yar’Adua, has been transformed into a cowpea farm.

The erstwhile first lady secured a partnership deal with a key organ of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in 2009 and then raised billions of naira in cash and materials from public and private sector donors to establish the ICCA in Abuja.

In December, 2016, investigation by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that burglars stormed the centre strategically located along the Abuja airport expressway and carted away power cables worth millions of naira. It is not known which other equipment have been pilfered from the locked up buildings.

A recent visit by this newspaper to the centre revealed that the ICCA, which was overtaken by weeds last year, is still in state of abandonment and has now been transformed to a beans plantation.

At the sprawling centre built on 7.3 hectares of land donated by the Nigerian government, rotting equipment, including about 200 donated mini-buses, depict a sad story of waste.

Mrs. Yar’Adua had in July 2009, two years after her husband, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, took office, flagged off the project with an elaborate fundraising event to mobilise N10 billion for the construction of the centre.

The exact amount raised from donors, including public and private officials, was not publicly disclosed.
Security men, who did not allow our reporter into the facility or agree to facilitate contact with any of the officials expressed dissatisfaction with the deteriorating state of the centre.

When quizzed, one of the security operatives said officials of the centre visit the facility occasionally.

“We are not permitted to speak with any journalist or allow them to gain entrance into the building. What you (PREMIUM TIMES) told us about the state of the centre is true. Since the incident that occurred last year nothing has changed”, he said.

“We are suffering here, no light. We’ve been living in total darkness every night till date and our officials told us that Mrs. Yar’Adua promised to rehabilitate the centre (but) nothing has been done.

”Nothing has changed, the only thing that has changed is the six mobile police officers, who were deployed to guard the centre”, he added.

Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to speak with Mrs. Yar’Adua on the issues were unsuccessful as she is reportedly in London.

The Director-General of the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in the Central Business District of Abuja, Jackie Farris, said the foundation is, ”neither directly nor indirectly involved with the centre.”

She agreed to forward inquiries on the matter to Mrs. Yar’Adua and her spokesperson.

However, after several weeks Mrs. Farris said she could not be of assistance.

“Apologies. I did look for her as promised but learned she is in London. Sorry, I cannot be more helpful. I do not have a contact for anyone associated with the Cancer Centre either,” she said.

“Try not to be too harsh? I’m sure there are explanations for why things turned out the way they have,” she added.

Read our earlier report on the state of the cancer centre and the international support it got here.


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  • Adele Uhuru

    If this was a misappropriation of public funds by any GEJ associate EFCC would have commenced it propaganda machine for a public trial and gross abuse of that party’s sacred human right

  • Du Covenant

    This is a terribly sad commentary on the way we think and do things in Nigeria. Had this centre been completed and commissioned, my of our fellow citizens stricken with cancer would have benefited one way or another but, this is Nigeria where common sense is a very scarce commodity. What a pity!.

  • OIL Spills KILLING N-Deltans

    “Royal Dutch Shell and the Italian multinational oil giant ENI have admitted to more than 550 oil spills in the Niger Delta last year, according to an Amnesty International analysis of the companies’ latest figures. By contrast, on average, there were only 10 spills a year across the whole of Europe between 1971 and 2011…..

    Shell reported 204 Niger Delta spills in 2014 while ENI, which operates in a smaller area, reported a staggering 349 spills.

    “These figures are seriously alarming. ENI has clearly lost control over its operations in the Niger Delta. And despite all its promises, Shell has made no progress on tackling oil spills,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Global Issues Director…In any other country, this would be a national emergency. In Nigeria it appears to be standard operating procedure for the oil industry. The human cost is horrific – people living with pollution every day of their lives.”

    —- www*DOT*amnesty*DOT*org

    • share Idea

      While I do not condone activities of these oil giant that are inimical to their host community, we should not compare apples to oranges. Why, how many times have you heard to people in Europe where these company operate engage in oil bunkering which results to more than 80% of oil spill in Nigeria.

      • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

        Where in Europe have you heard the central Government giving a miserable percentage to the host communities of oil fields? It is the communities, Counties or State that ALL the revenues and pay a percentage to the central government. So it ios in US, UK, Holland and elsewhere. Perhaps you chose not to remember. But don’t forget as MLK Junior once put it, the hottest parts of hell is reserved for those who in times of injustice chose to be neutral. And for those who are unjustly partisan, it will be the hottest of the hottest parts of hell.

      • rules_emmanuelO.

        And this justifies oil companies ignoring the pollution and potential life – threating consequences these spills have. Whose responsibility is it in to secure these pipe lines? Host communities too? I bet you’d be singing a different song if same thing was happening in your village. RAPE is the most graphic word to describe what oil companies and Nigerian Fed. Govt. are doing to/in Niger delta(ns).
        Kindly check your conscience sir/ma!

  • rules_emmanuelO.

    Again this calls to question the sincerity of purpose of our public officials.
    In her capacity as ex-first lady she can still see the project through to completion and functionality. Indeed, this begs the question of whether these people are truly ‘passionate’ about the causes they campaign for (including so-called ‘pet-projects’).

    Mrs. Yar’Ardua has a civic and moral obligation to give account of donor funds she campaigned for with public office and instruments.
    I have long discovered that NGOs and ‘pets projects’ are one of the biggest public scams in Nigeria.

  • TDaniels2

    Just another wasteful government venture, from one white elephant to another all over the land! Do all things have to be cantered in Abuja? Does Abuja have the highest rate of cancer patients? Is it more accessible than other parts of the country. What a group of confused people?

  • JasV

    At least they are producing cowpeas from the place. If you can’t cure cancer, at least you can conjure cowpeas. What a wild wild wild world.

  • Ibukun Bandele

    Hahahaha, Nigerians, too much talk with nothing to show for it, at the very least, someone is making use of the nonsense project, a beans farm, hahahaha

  • ECCLESSIASTICA

    Journalists should be alive to their responsibilities and help shape Africa for the future. Unfortunately what you get is sensational reporting without direction or focus. And before you say Jack, Premium Times comes up with serial winners of some awards for Journalism here and there. Whereas the state (Nigeria) gets worse by the seconds. Now lets put it in context. What is the purpose of this story? After this story what next? Would writing Editorials about the ineptitude of Buhari and the APC party in power in their neglect of Manufacturing and Production not be a better way of social responsibility for a news medium? Nigerian President and the bunch of vision-less elements that surround him from so called Professor Osinbajo down the kline are completely bereft of the simple fact that governance is BUSINESS. As a president you are the CEO/MD of the company (Country) and it your inalienable duty to ensure that you make, seal and sign deals for the country in the short and long term. This is what other Presidents of the West do. Nigerian presidents have no clues what leadership is all about. imagine a country like Nigeria with all the Capital from oil and with intelligent, smart and vibrant youth and a population of almost 200 million people have not a single factory owned by the state (Nigeria) where goods are produced for export. Can you imagine that? isn’t that s.t.u.p.i.d.i.t.y? And the journalists don’;t even know it. All they care is sensational stories about one useless Atiku and his useless opponent. Come to China and see production factories the size of Lagos State or the size of Abuja. Mumus!

    • Gaslaw

      At least journalism are produce locally and at least you have to appreciate this medium for their investigative reportage on issues… To say we don’t we factories or we don’t produce an export products? I don’t know what you really mean

  • Dejandon

    This is what happens to a house moulded with saliva, it comes down with the dew.

  • Kefas Samu

    Typical of the zoo even as I hate bn called a zoogerian.
    Lack of policy continuity and commitment to national ideals

  • Peace Forall

    This what Osibanjo called diversity. Zoological republic of nigeria flounder without vision and purpose governed by rogue elements