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When Hospital Becomes the Undertaker (Ukpor General Hospital)

Surgery, Ukpor General HospitalSurgery, Ukpor General Hospital – Hospitals around the world are generally where ailing people

get diagnosed and treated for their ailments but that appears not to be the case at Ukpor General Hospital,a government owned hospital located in Ukpor town ,a sleepy community in Nnewi South local government area of Anambra state.

The general hospital established long before the creation of the local government in 1991 is supposed to be the first port of call for people at the grassroot but this is not the case anymore as residents now sought for medical attention elsewhere.

 The hospital,the only General hospital in the Local government that comprises of Ukpor, the local government headquarters Amichi, Ekwulumili, Osumenyi, Utuh, Unubi, Azigbo, Ezinifite, Akwaihedi, Ebenator and Ogbodi has been left in a deplorable state owing to the nonchalant attitude of the state government to affordable and quality healthcare which is one of the cardinal pillars of the millennium development goals.

Nnewi South local government with a population of about 400,000 ,occupying an area of 174km2,carved out from the old Nnewi Local government and located in the southern senatorial district of the state. According to official statistics obtained from the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Local government received the sum of N136,738,673.83 as allocation from the Federation Account for the month of July alone.

Despite these huge monthly allocations,and numerous amounts collected as levies and rates by the Local government authorities,it has been failing massively in his obligation of providing basic needs such as quality and affordable healthcare to people from the local government.

Our investigations revealed that the huge allocations from the federation accounts never gets to the local government authorities as such fund goes directly into the state/local government joint accounts managed by the state government. The local government authorities have to go to Awka,cap in hand for handouts from the state government which barely takes care of the local government running cost.

The Local government chairman ,one Mr. Ossy Iyiegbu was accused of been an errand boy of the governor with no real responsibilities to embark on any serious developmental  projects. This is however,not peculiar to the local government as the same situation is what is equally obtainable in all local governments in the state and across the federation. Local government allocations have become cash cows for state governors.

This again reignites the debate of conferring full autonomy to local governments. 

A visit to the hospital paints a pathetic picture of years of neglect. From the dilapidated buildings that greets the visitor from outside to the decaying facilities inside. An open room we meant to understand was the operation theatre has only one old bed,one trolley and some broken furniture. The ward hall was an eyesore with few broken down iron beds. No patient was seen on admission.

Apart from lack of adequate facilities,the hospital is equally understaffed. It has only 2 resident doctors,6 nurses,1 pharmacist, 1 medical laboratory scientist and one cleaner.

To add salt to injury,it was gathered that the state government recently effected a 50% hike in prices of drugs sold in all general hospitals across the state. At the pharmacy section of the hospital,drugs on display at the shelves were mainly anti-malaria drugs and pain killers such as panadol, paracetamol etc which were in limited quantities.

Electricity supply to the hospital is virtually nonexistent as the entire community has for months been thrown into total darkness for reasons our correspondent is yet to ascertain.

The hospital does not have portable water supply as well thus raising serious concerns about personal hygiene at the hospital. Some residents our correspondent spoke revealed that they now resort to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) in neighbouring Nnewi town and other private hospitals for medical attention because the general hospital is incapable of saving lives.

They described the situation as agonising as not many people can afford the cost of treatments in private hospitals. They called on the state government to take urgent steps in equipping the hospital and to make drugs more affordable and available. 

Some members of the community resorting to self help,decided to bring the issues at the hospital on to the popular social networking site,Facebook where they hope to draw the attention of the state government to the plight of the communities that are dependent on the hospital by uploading shocking pictures of facilities at the hospital.

Their efforts ,however ,drew the attention of one Mr. Chigozie Eneh the founder and coordinator of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) online group,’APGA interactive Forum’.

In an editorial post in the group monitored by our correspondent, Eneh who is a Special Assistant to a factional National Chairman of the party,Chief Maxi Okwu called on the state government led by Governor Willie Obiano to urgently come to the aid of the people of the local government. 

Part of the post in question  read ;”We therefore call on Obiano to help take his Willie is working billboard to Ukpor general hospital. The hospital is state owned and can not be neglected while the gov prides himself as a working governor with nothing to show for. The Federation allocation if properly utilised would have fixed this general hospital and other infrastructures not only in Ukpor but in the entire LGA.” 

Eneh’s innocuous post did not go down well with some forces alleged to be close to governor. It was followed by barrage of attacks from the governor’s men. For example one Dominic Okagbue who was introduced as the Personal Assistant to Mr. Chinedu Obidigwe the Special Adviser to the governor on Political Affairs accused Eneh of merely using the pictures of the hospital as a ploy to blackmail the governor,he queried why previous administrations in the state failed to equip the hospital. He wrote:

Ukpor hospital

He wrote: “Pls, Hon. Eneh victor Chigozie where was this hospital during Mbadinuju administration? Where was this hopital during Dr. Chris N Nwabueze regime who is from Anambra central? Where was this hospital during former Gov. Peter Obi ‘s administration who is also from Anambra central? One thing i want to inform you is that nobody is a fool and we have come to understand that some of this rubbish you post about Gov. Obiano’s government emanated from idemili south and i have every necessary fact that you are working together with the speaker and the chairman of idemili south local govt to blackmail the government but remember that such an attempt is a failed one. On several occasions you were invited to Nnewi south for an occasion and hosted by a serving government official and after few days you came up with irrational demands which must have fed you during your visit. does it mean that apga interactive forum is now an avenue for presentation of public demands? “

Another, one Arinze Chukwudebelu who was equally introduced as the Personal Assistant to the Chairman of Nnewi South Local government,Mr. Ossy Iyiegbu,also accused Eneh of been sponsored by an unnamed prominent son of the community who is a chieftain  of the People’s Democratic Party to embarrass the state government. He wondered why Eneh failed to list two classroom blocks opposite the hospital as some of the projects the state government completed in the community. 

 “Yes, it is just because an Abuja based PDP political jobber from Ukpor, periodically hands him few wads of Naira notes to discredit the entire APGA establishment in Ukpor and Nnewi south in general, and possibly instigate tensions bw us and the powers that be in Awka.

“What Eneh does not know is that his hit mission on Ukpor APGA Leaders will always fail because of the implicit confidence of the people in the party’s determination to solve all their needs (refurbishing the hospital inclusive).

“It is curious that Mr Eneh or whoever sent him the pics did not also take notice that the road to that hospital has been tarred, it was not like that before. He did not notice that the 2 blocks of classrooms in the church compound opposite the hospital are wearing new looks, and they were not like that before etc. etc. Oh….Eneh did not even notice that we have renovated our nearby town hall …All he saw was the hospital because that will serve his hit mission.” 

Chukwudebelu’s response was shockingly insensitive as his views were taken as that of his principal. If that is the attitude of the leaders from the local government  towards the plight of their people,then it calls for serious concerns from the people because they have to battle with that sort of leadership failure until God knows when.

Responding to Chukwudebelu,Eneh said the projects Chukwudebelu listed were initiated by the immediate past government led by Chief Peter Obi. He said some of the projects have been abandoned by the current administration. He challenged Chukwudebelu to list some of the projects initiated or completed in the Community by Governor Willie Obiano. As of the time of filing this report ,Chukwudebelu is yet to respond to Eneh’s challenge more than 72 hours after the comment was made. 

But some members of the community sharply disagreed with Okagbue and Chukwudebelu. One Daniel Onuzulike wrote ” This is not a political campaign,ukpor people voted in our governor and we the ukpor indgenes need help in our general hospital that why we sent out this SOS call,appealing for a quick remedy to our hospital.people writing and speaking against our demand should look at this,in another angle where you pay visit to ukpor, may be for a holiday or a day visit and you fall sick or injury while in ukpor town and the only govt hospital in ukpor cant help you.what will you do?many of us sending this SOS call to the governor can afford private hospital but not every ukpor indgenes can,even our visitors cant at that particular moment he/she is sick while in ukpor, Our SOS calls are for the good of Ukpor indigenes and our visitors inclusive of Anambra indgenes.”

Another member of the community,one Prince Uzonna Enuagu came to the rescue of Eneh. He commended Eneh for his passion in bringing up the issue on the forum. He berated the state governor,Chief Wille Obiano for not doing enough in the community. 

“It baffles that a sane human being will try twist an open fact, Ukpor is not all that far away, why not dis doubting thomases made a short trip down to Ukpor to confirm if what we are saying is true or not, instead of attacking the poster, if a general hospital in a headquarter of a local government can be in this kind of deplorable condition, then something is definitely wrong, health is wealth, we ndi Ukpor are not saying that Willie is not working, all we are saying is Willie should rescue our general hospital, our people are suffering, we are not yet complaining of d abandoned road project by our governor, what is of paramount important to us now is for Willie to come down from billboard and rescue our Ukpor general hospital and save our people  from this excruciating suffering. Thank you mr Eneh for making out time to go and see things by yourself and for lending your voice for the rescue of Ukpor general hospital” he wrote.

Another contributor, one Chibuike Marcel who also hails from Ukpor decried the sorry state of the hospital and urged Governor Obiano to make his mark on this hospital “Whichever way it’s written,The hospital need government attention! Obiano should pls in-script his name in that hospital ” he wrote. 

In the midst of the raging debate,a calming assurance came from one contributor Andrew Obinna Okomma who also was alleged to be close to the governor. He called for patience and assured that the state government will address the issues in the hospital in a short time. 

“The past administration was on for full 8 years and nothing was done at this hopsital,isn’t? HE Obiano is just under 2 years,let us give him the support as patriotic ndi Anambra to give us the dividends of democracy.I will expect you guys to come back to this forum and inform us on the good news on the renovation of this hospital,Long Live ndi Anambra,Long Live Ndi Igbo nine” he said. 

Okomma’s comments equally drew a response from one Ifeanyi Anene who told him that former Governor Peter Obi actually renovated,equipped and built new hospitals. He said he expected the current administration to continue from where Obi stopped as government is a continuum rather than blaming Obi for every wrong. 

“We all know hospitals obi renovated and added new ones, they are too many. Obinna stop saying past administration did nothing in 8 years. If ppl start saying obiano is doing nothing how would you feel? This government has only 2years left. In this 2years one is election year” he added.

It is yet to be seen if the promise from Okomma will be fulfilled,only time will tell.

Lamenting over the situation recently at an event organised by members of Ukpor Community in honour of the Speaker of Anambra state House of Assembly,RT. Hon. Rita Maduagwu who is equally from the town, first Republic Minister of Aviation and elder statesman,Chief Mbazuluike Amaechi expressed dismay over the total neglect of the town by the state government. He described the situation as too embarrassing for him and the community. ” Anambra state has not particularly shown love to me and Ukpor town. There is no presence of Anambra State in Ukpor,even the General Hospital is in a deplorable and embarrassing state” he said.

However,some observers believe Amaechi’s son,Ikenna now a chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) who served as member of Anambra state House of Assembly representing Nnewi South Constituency II on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party between 2007-2011 wasted the opportunity to set the fortunes of the town on the right track but instead engaged in needless Executive versus Legislative fights with then governor of the state,Mr. Peter Obi. In the end, the court threw him out of the State Assembly and he also failed to get re-election to the House as he was floored at the polls by the incumbent speaker of the state House of Assembly ,Mrs. Maduagwu. The younger Amaechi was recently charged to Court for trial by the Nigerian a Police, Anambra State Command for assault and violent conduct during the last general elections in the state.

Another former Lawmaker from the Community who represented the constituency in the House of Assembly between 2003-2007 was Mr. Chukwuemeka Achukwu. Like chief Amaechi’s son,he equally engaged in Executive versus legislative fight with then governor Chris Nwabueze Ngige. He ended up attracting no visible state government presence to the town and local government.

Some road projects in the community were credited to the incumbent Speaker of the House of Assembly during her first tenure. Surprisingly ,most of the road projects she attracted to the community have been abandoned since the current government of Governor Willie Obiano assumed office. Some of the residents has blamed their representatives for not doing enough presently to draw the attention of the government to the plight of the community and the Local government. The local government is currently represented in the state House of Assembly by two representatives. Hon. Kingsley Iruba  represents Nnewi South Constituency I while the Speaker is from Constituency II.  The debate on whether the elected representatives from the town and local government has represented the people well is a topic for another day. 

The concern of people of Nnewi-South local government remains how to get affordable and quality healthcare ,a luxury they cannot afford for now as the only government owned hospital in their domain has become their undertaker. One thing is clear,they were unanimous in their call for the state governor to turn around the fortunes of the hospital for their overall welfare more especially the less-privileged who cannot afford patronising private hospitals.

By

Okechukwu Ogbonna

Awka

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