FORMER Akwa Ibom State health commissioner Dr Emem Bassey has dismissed suggestions that the state has a modern functioning hospital claiming that the facilities shown to the media by ex-governor Godswill Akpabio were hired for the day.
Governor Akpabio is currently receiving treatment in a private London hospital after being involved in a car accident in Abuja. However, his being flown abroad has attracted a lot of criticism as the governor was supposed to have built a world class hospital in Uyo equipped with modern medical facilities.
During the opening of the hospital, Governor Akpabio said the idea behind it was to arrest capital flight and prevent Nigerians going abroad for medical treatment. Commonly referred to as medical tourism, thousands of Nigeria’s elite fly to Europe, India and the Americas for medical treatment, costing millions of dollars.
However, Dr Bassey said the hospital Governor Akpabio built in Uyo was nowhere near ready and the equipment paraded in television during its commissioning was rented for the day. He added that he does not know the whereabouts of the over N101bn budgeted by the Akpabio-led administration for the procurement of open-heart surgery and other high-tech equipment for the hospital.
Dr Bassey said the clarification became necessary in view of the erroneous report being circulated by some people meant to smear his reputation that he was the one who advised the government against buying equipment. Christened the 21st Anniversary Hospital, the Uyo medical facility was portrayed as one that would employ specialists in several areas and offer treatment currently not available in Nigeria.
“For the avoidance of doubt, that equipment that was paraded on the day of the commissioning was actually rented by the government that I was a part of. However, whoever sponsored the publication like I have read in some national dailies that I was the sole person that advised my former boss, His Excellency Chief Godswill Akpabio from making the actual purchase of the equipment, is a huge liar.
“I want you to hear me and hear me loud and clear that at no point did I make such a recommendation. The actual procurement for the surgical equipment and other hospital deliverables was meant to be handled directly by the ministry of special duties, which was headed at that time by my brother and colleague-in-service, Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem,” Dr Bassey added.
He conceded that he was part of the team that went to Germany, Cuba, India and other countries with the consultants drafted in by the government to take stock of the latest equipment that would be needed in the hospital. However, according to Dr Bassey, in the wake of the electioneering, Governor Akpabio ordered that they put the preparation for the trip to procure the equipment on hold.