More than a year after the commissioning of three healthcare facilities in Gombe State, two of the centres are either unutilised, or lacking basic supplies.
In 2018, N300 million was budgeted by the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, (ATBU) under the supervision of the Ministry of Health for the construction of the facilities. The projects were nominated by Fatima Binta Bello, a former member of the House of Representatives for Kaltungo/Shongom Federal Constituency as her constituency projects.
A breakdown of the facilities, located at the Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC), Filiya, Shongom local government, shows that N100 million was budgeted for the construction of a modern mortuary, another N100 million for the construction of a tuberculosis unit, and another N100 million for the construction of a laboratory.
According to Mrs Bello, N210 million was released for the project, which is 70 per cent of the amount budgeted for the project.
But despite the funds released for the project, when PREMIUM TIMES visited the mortuary at the PHCC in Filiya, a predominantly Christian community, it was locked. A senior official of the hospital, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak with the media, said the mortuary was just an ordinary building, which lacked the basic equipment to function as a mortuary.
“For the mortuary, fridges haven’t been provided yet. Therefore, the operation has not commenced. It is locked,” the official said.
When this reporter asked to see inside the mortuary, the official said the keys were with a security guard who no longer works at the hospital.
“The security man is with the key. And he is not around. He retired in May, so he returns in the evenings voluntarily.” he added.
The district head of Filiya, Shuaibu Ibrahim, said the mortuary is needed in the community because of the large Christian population there.
“Residents can keep their corpses at the mortuary before they prepare for burial. Even corpses that are on transit can be kept before being moved to Taraba. And for the corpses brought in, they can also be kept before burial,” he said
He called on the contractors to supply the amenities yet to be provided at the centre.
Nobody was in sight at the tuberculosis unit when this reporter visited. The reporter was told that the staff of the unit had gone for a verification exercise. But this reporter also learnt that there was no patient on admission at the facility.
The head of the tuberculosis unit at the PHCC, Jemina Malum, in a telephone conversation, said the facility lacked basic amenities.
“Well, there is an improvement. But there are no ceiling fans. We need ceiling fans and standing fans,” she said.
When this reporter visited the laboratory, Hajara Ali, the official in charge of the laboratory, who took this reporter for an inspection, said there were four incubators, of which three are on standby, and two microscopes, with one on standby.
“Before, if we want to do culture and sensitivity test, lab staff have to go to Kaltungo or Billiri to do it,” he said.
“There was no incubator. But now there are two. One on standby. A blood bank is also now in our laboratory.”
Kish Ishaku, a senior official of the PHCC, told this reporter that the projects were commissioned in 2019 but some equipment were yet to be provided. He, however, said that some of the facilities were already being put to use.
Blaming the contractor for the state of the facility, he called on the government to trace the contractor and bring it back to complete the work.
When reached for comment, Mrs Bello referred this reporter to ATBU.
“I think the best person to answer your questions is the contractor, right? Maybe you can talk to them or maybe you can get the contact of the ATBU CMD.”
“I don’t have his contact and I never met him till that day (commissioning day).” She said.
“I asked the agency to award the project based on funds released to them by the federal government in order to avoid having uncompleted work from the contractor.”
However, she added that whatever happens, she is not aware.
This newspaper hand-delivered a letter requesting further details to the university but officials at the vice-chancellor’s office refused to collect it and requested that the letter be sent through the post. The letter was sent as they instructed but the university is yet to respond to our enquiries.
This investigation was done as part of the UDEME project.