The former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, says he has chosen to be silent on the closure of the multi-billion naira Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo.
The hospital, said to have been built at the cost of N41 billion by the Akpabio administration, was shut down in September after the private managers, Cardiocare Medical Services Ltd, terminated its contract with the state government because of disagreement over funding.
Mr. Akpabio inaugurated the hospital two years ago, while he was still serving as the governor.
He boasted then that the facility was “world class” and capable of boosting medical tourism in the state and the nation.
PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Akpabio, who is the Senate Minority Leader, to find out how he feels about the shutting down of one of his signature projects.
“The senator would not want to say anything as regard the closure of the hospital,” his spokesperson, Anietie Ekong, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday.
“He has finished his job in the state and has moved on. So, whatever happens now is for the state government to handle. The hospital was not his personal property.
“We believe that government is a continuum. Senator Akpabio has finished his bid and has moved on,” he said.
One of Mr. Akpabio’s former aides has, however, called on the hospital’s former managers, Cardiocare Ltd, to come out and tell Nigerians their own side of the story.
The Commissioner for Health in Akwa Ibom, Dominic Ukpong, attributed the closure of the hospital to “poor management” on the part of Cardiocare.
Cardiocare is yet to say what really went wrong.
The company declined comment on the issue when PREMIUM TIMES contacted it.
“There’s always two sides to every story. Now, the government is coming out to tell us its side. The proper thing is for the people who were contracted to manage the hospital to also come up with their own side of the story,” said Clement Ikpatt, who served as a special assistant on the Diasporas Affairs to Mr. Akpabio when the latter was the governor.
“I don’t see how a company would suddenly decide to scuttle the contract that they signed, pack their bags and move away. Something must have happened,” he told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday.
Mr. Ikpatt is of the opinion that the government should have found a way to keep the hospital running, while searching for new managers and investors, even if it means running the facility at a loss.
“There are some businesses that may not be very wise to shut down because of the nature of the service they provide,” he said. “And that hospital is one of such businesses.”
“We know that there are state-of-the-art equipment in that place. We don’t want a story that after some months when it is eventually re-opened, somebody is going to come and tell us that the equipment that were bought were state-of-the-art as at that time, but now they have not been calibrated, they have not been used, and they are rotting away.
“If you don’t use the equipment and have them calibrated and repair as necessary according to international best practices, what’s the point of
coming to open the hospital one or two years down the line?”
Mr. Ikpatt said the government could explore the possibility of getting the indigenes of the state who are in the Diasporas to manage the Ibom Specialist Hospital.
He advised the government not to contemplate selling off the hospital.