Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in Bayelsa State recently. The Owu chief’s second coming this year to the Ijaw state was devoid of politics. He was in Bayelsa for his routine medical check-ups.
The former President’s medical trip to Bayelsa surprised many a politician of his caliber. Usually Obasanjo would take his health matters to an undisclosed hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Politicians in Obasanjo’s class most times shun hospitals in Nigeria and take their medical inquiries to notable health facilities abroad.
They lack confidence in health facilities located within the country. They can’t imagine subjecting their lives to homegrown medical practitioners. It is risky. But Obasanjo shunned his American hospital and raced down to Yenagoa to undergo his annual medical procedures.
What did Obasanjo, whom most people consider hard to please see in Bayelsa? It could be recalled that sometimes in February this year, the former President was a guest of the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson. The governor invited him for a working visit in the state.
Obasanjo was taken round legacy projects of Dickson in different parts of the state. He saw Dickson’s projects in various sectors of the economy especially in the areas of education, health and agriculture.
The former President who inaugurated and toured some of the projects poured encomiums on the governor. He was particularly impressed by the state-of-the-art medical equipment at the Bayelsa Diagnostic Centre (BDC) and the Bayelsa Specialist Hospital.
He appraised the vision and mission of Dickson in the health sector.
The Owu chief then reflected on the medical equipment obtainable in his hospital abroad and the ones he saw in Bayelsa. There was no difference. He immediately promised that instead of going abroad he would come to Bayelsa for his medical tourism.
Obasanjo made good his promise. He came on Monday this week. Though, the former President arrived the state very late in the night, he reported to the specialist hospital close to the Government House. His medical procedures commenced that night.
The former President himself gave reasons why he abandoned the USA for Bayelsa. He said the move was to fulfill a promise he made earlier in February when he inspected medical facilities built by Dickson.
At about 8am on Tuesday, Obasanjo was already at the VIP wing of the specialist hospital where he ran some tests in various health departments accompanied by senior medical staff of the specialist hospital.
The former President was later driven to the Bayelsa Diagnostic Centre (BDC) where some medical experts took him through medical equipment at the centre. Obasanjo, who emerged from the centre after spending a few hours was full of smiles.
Explaining the medical procedures he went through and why he chose Bayelsa, he said: “Last time l was here in February, l did say that l would want to come and patronise the facilities here because l was impressed with what l saw then.
“Having made that promise, l had to fulfill it. I started last night with the gadgets l had to wear to sleep with to check my blood pressure while l am awake and while l am sleeping. This morning, l started with blood, urine tests.
“I went through the whole process of heart test. They looked at other internal organs such as kidneys, liver, spleen and all the internal organs. Eventually, l had semi-sleep in the MRI where my brains were examined.
“It may be of interest for you to know that the doctor said my head is correct. I want to thank all the staff for their commitments. I went through the machines, the way l used to go through them where I normally have my medicals at Atlanta, Georgia.
“We have trained Nigerians and the machine here. I got my results and it is the same thing l had in USA. The difference is that it is cheaper here than there”.
The former President praised the efficiency of the health insurance scheme instituted by Dickson. He is a registered member of the scheme.
And he immediately his receipt to show that he pays N14,000 monthly to remain an active member of the scheme.
He said: “I am also a beneficiary of the health insurance in Bayelsa and l pay monthly. And again, it is good to know that health insurance is very good because when you are need of attention and you don’t have money but you have insurance to take care of you. I have done and paid for one year and half. My health insurance is N14,000″.
The former president insisted that it is more cost-effective patronising good medical facilities at home like the ones in Bayelsa than traveling to other countries for the same purpose. He said he spent N350,000 for all the medical procedures he went through in Bayelsa.
He noted that it was cheaper compared to the cost of similar procedures abroad. He said it would have cost him to get similar services and standard in the USA. So, instead of traveling abroad, he advised others to come to Bayelsa. He said that the results of his tests showed that he is as fit as a fiddle adding that the doctor only asked him to drink more water.
“I got my results and l am as fit as a fiddle. The doctor said the only thing l need to do is to drink more water. The same thing you can get anywhere in the world, you can get it here. Why do you have to travel?”
He insisted: “Wherever we get best practices, let’s spread it. When l was here last February, l saw the standard of the facilities here that could be used by all Nigerians. There is no need for a Nigerian to say he is going to Dubai, UK, America for medical checkups.
“I came here last night, before 1 pm what l started at 8am came to an end. I went through all the medical checks, that l would normally have gone through anywhere. The eye, the mouth, the head and the doctor showed me what my brains looked like.
“When l looked at he said my brain is clean and clear and l said, it means my head is correct. Not only that the cost I reasonable. The services were superb. So, what people were going to Dubai, India, America, UK, Saudi Arabia for is here in Bayelsa”.
Obasanjo prays with Dickson
On the eve of his medical check-ups, Obasanjo prayed with Dickson. He joined the governor to observe the state’s monthly thanksgiving service at the King of Glory Chapel, Government House, the chief hailed Dickson.
He said under the governor, God took control of the affairs of Bayelsa and its people. He remembered that prior to the administration of Dickson, the state was notorious for militancy and insecurity.
He urged leaders especially Governors who desired to perform well in their states to come to Bayelsa and learn the secret of Dickson’s success. The elder statesman expressed appreciation to God for giving the governor the spirit of praise and thanksgiving. He said nothing is more important than man’s relationship with God.
He said: I want to thank God for the life of Governor Seriake Dickson, for doing this to honour God. This is what happens when youput God first. All other things happen the way God has ordained them to happen.
“The peace of God is here. Bayelsa used to be dreaded for militancy and insecurity and now people are asking what is happening in Bayelsa State. If you are a Governor and you want to do well, come to Bayelsa and learn the secret”.
In his remarks, Dickson thanked Obasanjo for being an instrument in the hand of God. He said God remained the state’s source of strength.
He recalled that despite the 2016 recession that hit the country, his administration continued to break the frontiers in the health, education, infrastructure sectors among others.
Dickson stressed that Bayelsa is the only state with a Thanksgiving Law in the country. He explained that he emulated the former President by building an Ecumenical Centre for the worship of God in the state, appointing clergymen, holding morning devotion and state memory verse.
He said the state went ahead of others in terms of infrastructural and economic development. He called for continued prayers, understanding and support for the state, its leadership and the country at large.