There is an African adage that says, “a herbalist that treats dysentery, is his anus hung on the tree?” This adage bares the humanity in us or the frailty of all mortals. At the end, we are all flesh and blood. Another popular adage with which my teachers in primary school used in teaching me about actions and consequences says “as you make your bed, so shall you lie on it”.
As I woke up to the news of the death of the Chief of Staff to the President, the jubilation and mourning it brought to different folks, two questions boggled my mind: could his death been averted? The answer is left only to God. Then comes the second question- this is the nexus of this piece. Have our men and women of power done enough to fix our comatose health sector? The answer to this question is written on the gory sights of our sick health institutions.
One of the things that caught my attention in 2015 was the President’s speech at the Chatham House in the UK. While delivering his speech, Buhari said “What is the difference between me and those who elected us to represent them, absolutely nothing. Why should the Nigerian president not fly with other Nigerian public? Why do I need to embark on a foreign trip as a president with a huge crowd with public funds? Why do I need to go for a medical trip abroad if we cannot make our hospital functional?”
This statement swept me off my feet and my faith in President Buhari’s ability to change the age-long status quo was doubled. These words resonated with me because I had queried why Nigeria’s Presidents could not fix even one hospital in the country to be of the same standard with the ones they visit abroad. But I knew that one day, the health sector which they have raped will come to take its toll on its oppressors.
All along, helpless Nigerians have been the casualties of a ragged Nigerian health sector. In the course of my job, I have seen many Nigerians die of preventable and curable diseases. Their only crime was that they were born Nigerians impoverished by Nigeria. I have also seen privileged Nigerians die because Nigerian health sector could not provide them with emergency health response. Some weeks ago, a Nasarawa United player, Chieme Martins died on the pitch when an Ambulance stationed in the pitch refused to start.
In a nutshell, I have seen many Nigerians whom the countries health sector failed because our health sector serves the poor, while the rich have found their medical Eldorado in foreign lands. Many health workers have fallen victims of the diseases they fight to cure. So many have lost their lives like late Mrs Adadevoh and yet our Health Minister does not know if health workers fighting coronavirus are paid their hazard allowance. Even the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) confessed that he did not know that the health sector has nosedived into the current abysmal level. Now this has compounded my worries. How is the person who represents the soul of the executive not know the state of the country’s health sector. Now that the Chief of Staff to the President has succumbed to the deadly coronavirus, the reality may have docked at his shore.
I will not fall into the trap beautification or vilification of Mr Abba Kyari. My duty here is to strengthen the facts and consequences of our actions and inactions. On 23rd of February, 2020, The Punch reported the Federal Ministry of Health’s inability to procure equipment and equip our laboratories was affecting Nigeria’s preparation for a possible coronavirus epidemic. This is because of Mr Kyari’s power play with the then Health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole. He had in October 2018 stripped the ministry of its power to procure anything and transferred the authority to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The report has it that the two current ministers overseeing the Federal Ministry of Health have gone to the late Chief of Staff for him to rescind his decision, but all to no avail.
Today, the disease is here, and we all stuck in this country that has been mercilessly plundered by its leaders. Soon as WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates has predicted, the Apocalypse will start raining with full rage, and there will be no London or German hospital to run to.
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