The Nation (Nigeria)

Thank you, Governor Abiodun but...

- •‘Dipo Onabanjo, Lagos.

SIR: I’m seizing this opportunit­y to thank Prince Dapo Abiodun, governor Ogun State for what he has done in my area, nay my village, within the short time he is in power. Now, what has Governor Abiodun done in my village to warrant some commendati­on? And where is my village? My village is no other one than Ajebandele in the far East of Ijebu East LGA of Ogun State. It is where River Oni, flowing Southwards from the famous Yoruba hill, separates Ogun from Ondo State, which also calls its border village Ajebamidel­e (Ipaye). Mine is Ajebandele (Ijebu).

In my small village, government­al presence is felt only in three places: public schools (primary and secondary), the health institutio­n (the only health centre) and in the forest where you see forest guards shuttling like a loom looking for rogue loggers who invade forests and farmlands mostly in the night, cutting trees they did not plant! Both the illegal loggers and forest guards usually become friendlier after some confrontat­ions. Nigerians surely know the game, right? But I digress.

It is what the Abiodun government has done in the area of health that really warrants this piece. In the centre of the village is the Community Health Centre which in those days was a small building painted in white and black, standing tall like Mother Theresa, watching our health. It was a good place to visit, neat with efficient health workers, always willing to help.

Like almost everything Nigerian, this public asset degenerate­d particular­ly within the last decade, to the level it was harbouring rats, bats and other fearful creatures. No toilet facilities, no beddings, no water, no furniture and fittings even for workers to use!

The situation worsened when Ebola, that dreaded hemorrhagi­c fever, was rampaging the continent.

But the lord saved our people even when the then ruling power in the state redeployed three of the five medical team in the clinic at a go, without replacing them!

Then in 2016, the National Assembly (NASS) through its constituen­cy projects voted N10 million for the repair of the clinic. We clapped with joy. They changed the roof, replaced the windows and washed it in national colours, green and white. But by the time the contractor­s left in 2018 or thereabout, they left the place as hollow as they met it: no equipment including those mentioned above. Worst still, the bats refused to go, and the place reeked of foul odour. Did they spend the #10million on the clinic? Your guess is as good as mine. The contractor­s picked their teeth while politician­s thanked their stars for the windfall. Everybody went to bed, but the people’s health challenges remained.

But during my visit to the village last month, I saw a ‘new’ clinic! With a yellow roof, the clinic now wears its old white colours combined with new burglar proofs, ceilings and toilet facilities. A new borehole serving the clinic (and the public) potable water had been dug and equipped with taps and other fittings. A generator has also been procured to provide it with regular electric power.

And whodunnit, as Americans would ask? I was told the state government through its health ministry did the magic. I learnt also that the community’s health management committee, had also started receiving N100, 000 per month to ensure maintenanc­e of the edifice. Good deal? The state government must have spent a fortune on the clinic this time around. How much, only God knows.

However, there is a big BUT in the saga of this clinic. It’s still a work in progress as I write. Like before, work stopped - temporaril­y, I suppose - at the point of providing beds and beddings, furniture and fittings including all that can make patients and health workers enjoy the new edifice. The structure attracts from afar but barren when you peep in!

And this is where my appeal comes in. And it goes to the health commission­er at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta. Madam, your ministry has done well so far. Pls complete the job! I know that through you, the governor will hear our cries better. This project should not be abandoned as the Eighth NASS did through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Much money has been thrown into this project and if care is not taken, it will soon become a bottom-less pit, much to the chagrin of the helpless villagers.

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