Three years since Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha began the construction of what he called “world class hospitals” in all the state’s 27 local government areas, only one of them has been completed while all the others are uncompleted, unequipped and abandoned at various stages, according to a report of the Eastern Nigeria Governance Tour by development consultant Bamikole Oluwafemi Adeleye.
Bamikole Adeleye is a researcher, social advocate and active citizen working with a coalition of other active Nigerians in a Citizen Governance Media Advocacy Programme (CGMAP).
While launching the projects in 2014, the report said, Governor Okorocha promised that all the hospitals will be completed and made fully functional by January 2015. But a recent tour of the project sites showed that only the Airforce Hospital in Owerri North has been completed. The General Hospital at Aboh Mbaise, which serves three local governments, is abandoned. The report said “Njaba hospital has no equipment, no gate, is not functional and has bushes all over the yard.” The good governance tour found the same situation at Orlu, Nkwerre, Ahiazu and Ikeduru. At Ahiazu, the report said the main general hospital was demolished by Okorocha’s government to make way for a timber market but the new one being built to replace it has been abandoned with bushes all over the site.
The report said the uncompleted or abandoned hospital projects have cost the state dearly because billions of naira was sunk into them but citizens have not reaped any benefits. The report also noted that construction of new hospitals was embarked upon even though Imo State’s existing general hospitals have no access to clean water or regular power supply and they suffer from an acute shortage of medical personnel.
According to the report, Okorocha launched a “Free Health For all” program in 2014, with pomp and fanfare. Under the program, he promised the treatment of aged citizens at no cost, improvement of medical services in the state and upgrading of health facilities. Three years afterwards, the report said respondents in all local governments surveyed said there is “no improvement in the employment of quality workforce,” that quality of service in the hospitals have declined and that out-patient services for citizens are very expensive. The report described the decision to set up the new hospitals as “impractical, wasteful, and not based on sound policy qualities (e.g. technical efficiency, equitable distribution of health welfare or allocative efficiency).”
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okorocha, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, said four of the projects have been completed, equipped, and handed over to the Army, Navy, and Police. He did not say why others have not been completed.
Onwuemeodo said: “All those telling you lies about the Imo State government should go and repent. I am talking to you not just as the Chief Press Secretary to His Excellency, the governor of Imo State, but also as a child of God. The PDP ruled this state for 16 years but they used the state funds to organise parties and merriment. Today, we are talking of Governor Okorocha’s administration that has completed over 1000 projects, and you are there listening to people telling lies against the government.”