Nigerian lawmaker inserted the construction of two health centres in the Nigerian budget for communities that did not need them as they already had functional health facilities. The buildings were eventually constructed with public funds but have, for about three years, been taken over by bushes and termites as they lie in waste while the community has moved on.
Located in the South-west state of Ekiti are the two health facilities built with millions of naira of public funds but never put to use by residents. These health facilities are located in Igbara Odo, a community of over 70 thousand people in Ekiti South West Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
In 2017, Segun Adekola, the lawmaker representing Ekiti South West/Ikere/Orun/Ise constituency in the House of Representatives at the time, nominated the construction of two maternity healthcare centres in Igbara Odo. One was to be located along Ikogosi road and the other along Oke-Gbala in the town.
In 2019, Mr Adekola facilitated the completion of the projects under different titles, “Equipping Fencing and Landscaping of Maternity Healthcare Centre at Ikogosi Road in Igbara Odo Ekiti” and “Equipping, Fencing and Landscaping of Maternity Healthcare Centre at Oke-Gbala in Igbara-Odo”.
While the former, which cost N55,777,000, was placed under the supervision of the Nigeria Press Council, the latter, supervised by the National Agency for The Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), had a N60 million budget.
Gold in the bush
hen UDEME first visited Igbara Odo in March 2022, residents said there was no government health facility bearing “maternity healthcare centre” in the town.
A commercial motorcyclist, called Tunde by his colleagues, told this reporter there are only three public health facilities in the area. This was also confirmed by Ajakaye Adeola, a nurse working at one of these health facilities named “Model Healthcare Hospital” along Ikogosi Road. She listed the Basic Health Centre located in the heart of Igbara Odo and Comprehensive Health Centre along Ogotun road as the other two.
However, as this reporter was about to leave the town, he met another commercial motorcyclist, Olumide, who mentioned the existence of an abandoned structure along the road that leads to Ikogosi. It was a 20 minutes ride from the town.
Sitting inside the bush was a fenced structure with yellow and green paint. It was difficult to identify the building type behind its locked black gate because of the bushes that were competing with the perimeter fencing. However, the painting was new.
During an attempt to see the inside of the fence, this reporter entered the bush and stepped on a plank. Assisted by Mr Olumide in lifting it up, it turned out to be the signage which carried details of the project but now almost eaten up by termites. Written on it is “EQUIPPING FENCING AND LANDSCAPING OF MATERNITY HEALTHCARE CENTER”.
While checking through the fence, the interlocking stones used to beautify its ground could be seen as weeds forced their way up through it.
Mr Olumide told UDEME about another structure which has been in the bush for a long time. “It is along Igbara-Oke road,” he said. “And the journey would take about 25 minutes from here.”
Beside the tarred road that leads to Igbara-Oke, a blue-roofed building was seen, sitting on a fenced piece of land. Painted yellow, and secured with a black gate, the wall of the building has suffered breakages in the parts most visible. Other parts could not be seen. They were covered by bushes. It has never been used after construction and the bushes have not been cleared in a long while.
Although completed, these over N115 million projects have been locked up since 2019.
Completed but abandoned
n a Saturday, UDEME spoke to Segun Adekola, the lawmaker who facilitated the project, via the telephone. When asked why the projects are not being used, he claimed ignorance, saying the project was completed by his successor.
“In the first instance, I facilitated it. That’s my town. I facilitated it and it was done, completed and every other thing. In the other budget that I facilitated for equipping and fencing, unfortunately, I didn’t come back to handle it myself. Being the facilitator, I am the one that put it in the budget, my predecessor (he meant successor) did not allow me to have access to it.
“For 2019, for equipment and all other things, he took over it and he handled it. In fact, all my 2019 projects, he took over them and handled them,” he said.
Mr Adekola did not respond to subsequent calls seeking to ask why he did not consult with residents of the community before inserting a project they do not need in the budget. However, all the residents that this reporter spoke to, including the traditional ruler, said they were not consulted before the insertion or construction of the project.
Mr Adekola’s successor, Yemi Adaramodu, speaking to UDEME, said the projects have been completed and handed over to the local government authorities.
“All the materials were kept in oba’s palace so that they will not be stolen. They are there, including generators and other gadgets,” he said.
When asked the list of the materials that were bought, he replied, “I said you should go to the ‘Kabiyesi’. Ask. Generators are there, beddings are there, other things are there.”
“We don’t need the facilities; we don’t fall sick”
Again, UDEME visited Igbara-Odo town in April. But before going to the king’s palace, this reporter spoke to some members of the community about their challenges with accessing health care in the town. However, highlighting water scarcity as a major plight, they said new healthcare centres are the least of their needs.
Michael Osunlola, a 67-year-old farmer who said he has not been to a hospital for the past three years, told UDEME that he seldom buys pain relief drugs at the pharmacy. “Most times, I get herbs from my farm and prepare it at home,” he added.
Abimbola Ajenifuja, a tailor, also sees no need for a new health centre since they have three already.
“The health centres we have are enough. What we need the most in Igbara Odo is modern water,” she told UDEME.
Like Mrs Ajenifuja, Muyiwa Bose and Yusuf Adeoye also spoke of water scarcity as the major problem in the community.
“Most times, I cross many streets before getting clean water to cook. It is not easy at all,” Mrs Bose lamented.
Other residents spoke in the same vein to UDEME, noting that they were not consulted on their needs before the health facilities were constructed.
The head of Tracka, a civic engagement organisation, Uadamen Ilevbaoje, berated Nigerian lawmakers for proposing projects without consultation with the supposed beneficiaries.
“Not consulting the community members before nominating projects is a monumental waste of public funds,” he said. “Most completed projects are abandoned because the people don’t take ownership. And the people don’t take ownership because they were not carried along.”
At the palace…
pon arrival, Edward Jayeola, the king of Igbara-Odo, confirmed that the health equipment bought for the two health centres were kept at the palace. He said they were brought in 2019 and had been in the palace since then.
When asked for what was brought, he said he only identified “beds, two generators, about four air conditioners, BP machines, cartons of hand gloves, fans and iron stands” as others were in sealed cartons.
He said the materials were delivered two times alongside documents which had the materials listed in them. Before showing this reporter where he kept the equipment, he complained of space shortage, saying he is tired of keeping them.
“Long time ago, some people also brought drugs and other things and kept them at the palace. After several years, they got spoiled and we had to distribute the remaining items to the small hospitals around. These items, although they don’t contain drugs, are already taking too long in the palace. I am tired of keeping them. I need the space for other things,” he complained.
When asked about the abandoned facilities, the king said: “We don’t need the two hospitals we were given, to be honest. We have three already that need more staff and better equipment. Yet, they built two more. All these things they brought should have been distributed to those places.”
Mentioning that there is another health facility which has been abandoned for over 10 years in Igbara-Odo, the king said he would have recommended that the government representatives complete that first.
Later, the king searched through bundles of documents but could not find the document which detailed the list of items delivered. After futile efforts, he promised to send a snapshot of it to this reporter, once he finds it. However, as of the time of publishing this report, he was yet to send the snapshot. When a call was put through to him later, he said he had not found it.
Ekiti government failed to support
olade Amire, immediate past local government chairman of Ekiti South West Local Government Area. told UDEME that the projects were completed before his arrival.
Mr Amire assumed office in 2020 and left in January 2022. Upon resumption, he wrote a letter and made multiple visitations to demand personnel from the primary health agency of Ekiti State. The agency failed to grant his quests.
“We even pleaded that if they could give us just one qualified nurse then we could employ auxiliaries that could be trained but all the same, they were unable to provide,” he recounted.
“We want to convert one to a police station”
r Amire said that his administration resolved to convert the abandoned buildings to other uses, “especially the one along Ikogosi road so that the facility will not completely deteriorate.”
“We were on that till my tenure expired as the chairman,” he said.
He added that the Divisional Police of Ekiti had approached him to ask if they could use the building along Igbara-Oke as a police station.
“We were on that till my tenure elapsed,” he said, again.
“What I will do now, I am going to have an audience with the Kabiesi and the present LCDA chairman so that they can start using one. Maybe the community will have to raise money to employ personnel so that the equipment will not rot away.”
On the other hand, the new chairman of Igbara Odo LCDA, Abiodun Ayodeji, when contacted said that he knows nothing about the facilities. He said that he resumed office in January 2022, and was not briefed about the existence of the health centres.
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