Akintunde Oyebode: Save Patience Jonathan (YNaija FrontPage)

The speed and secrecy with which Dame Jonathan was shipped out of the country suggests our leader might believe in Nigeria, but won’t put all his eggs in this basket.

A few years ago, a well known professor was invited to Nigeria from the United States at the behest of one the South-West governors. The professor usually shared his thoughts on solving Nigeria’s numerous problems through the print media, and was soon invited ‘home’ to be a part of the solution, albeit at the state level. It was invitation he could not ignore, so he started a series of long trips to Nigeria. On one of such trips, he fell ill, and was treated by his host governor’s personal physician. He was given a few basic drugs, and advised to remain in bed for the rest of the week. After two days of bed rest with no improvement in his condition, he called his physician in America, and gave a detailed explanation of how he felt; twenty four hours later, he was back in America, admitted into a specialist hospital. The verdict was predictable; if he had stayed back in Nigeria, this might have been an obituary instead of an article.

Last week, I wrote about how easily governments press the self-destruct button without realizing it. A few weeks ago, we were told how our President’s commitment to Nigeria is total. We were told how his dress code promotes Nigeria, and asked to be impressed that his children go to school in Nigeria. To drive the point home, a summary of the President’s menu was shared; it included the increasingly popular cassava bread, fish pepper soup, yam and boiled plantain. The point was keenly made that President Jonathan is 100% Nigerian, and his lifestyle showed a keen commitment and belief in the Nigerian story.

The speed and secrecy with which Dame Jonathan was shipped out of the country suggests our leader might believe in Nigeria, but won’t put all his eggs in this basket. The nature of her illness is less relevant; it does not matter if she suffers from exhaustion, food poisoning or a ruptured appendix. The irony is that neither the President nor is wife has shown faith she can be treated in Nigeria. This is a damning self-assessment of the Jonathan administration, and the ones before it. The list of serving government officials that seek solace elsewhere when their bodies show the slightest sign of weakness is endless. To them, the National Hospital in Abuja is a museum that houses medical artifacts.

The Federal Government plans to spend N282 billion on healthcare in 2012. This seems like a tidy sum at first glance, but when you remember that the same government plans to spend over N60 billion on a bogus amnesty program, it is a sign we are yet to understand our priorities. While the aptly named Government Tompolo Ekpumopolo earns over N3 billion to protect pipelines, the National Health Insurance Scheme has a budget of N1.6 billion. It seems surreal that a man who should be locked up in Ita-Oko Prison for an indefinite period is paid more than a National Health Insurance Scheme; we need not wonder why less than 1 in 20 Nigerians have health cover of any kind.

I started this article on a 6 hour journey to Lagos, and the persistent turbulence on the trip made it difficult for me to finish it. Halfway into the flight, a middle aged lady beside me started breathing heavily. Within seconds she lost consciousness, and hell was let loose. The flight attendant closest to us responded swiftly, and provided oxygen within seconds to aid her breathing. We spent the next 15 minutes looking for signs of life till she opened her eyes, and we heaved a collective sigh of relief. This woman had just been saved 36,000 feet above sea level, without a doctor on board.

The eyewitnesses all muttered their gratitude that this happened on an international airline, with most suggesting local hospitals (not just airlines) don’t have oxygen masks. I tried to argue, but remembered a friend’s experience early this year. Just like the lady on the plane, he suffered from a respiratory condition, and needed oxygen to aid his breathing. He was rushed to a hospital close to his house that didn’t have the oxygen needed to save him; some minutes later, he died.

The list of bright minds needlessly lost in Nigeria rises daily; but it matters little to successive governments. For them, adequate healthcare will always be an air ambulance away.

 

* Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (7)

  1. Pingback: Nigeria: First Lady’s Sickness – Fact and Fallacy? :: Elites TV

  2. Pingback: Nigeria: First Lady’s Sickness – Fact and Fallacy? · Global Voices

  3. Ugo,

    I think you've missed the point here. No one says he should not be paid for offering a service. Do you know how many children in the Niger-Delta die because of inadequate health care? We should devote most of our resources, at state or federal level, to the areas that need them most.

    I've missed a lot of your points, but if you've read my writing in the past, I am a big supporter of people controlling more of their resources. As usual, you've missed the thrust of the article by viewing it with rose tinted glasses.

    You mention people like Ken Saro Wiwa, maybe you should read Ken more, or perhaps Claude Ake too. The aim of governance is to improve the lot of the people, if that is not done, then we have failed as a society.

  4. @ugo why it makes sense not to condemn Tompolo, you safely ignore the amounts he was paid versus amounts devoted to healthcare for his people. I really wish the oil producing people (not Tompolo) are the ones receiving the billions.

    And question for you? Don't think it's better to build hospitals and schools in Bayelsa than to hand cash to Tompolo?

  5. A number of typos above. Excuse me. God will still punish this eye-servic bozo called Bode.

  6. So, Bode, Tompolo Ekpumopolo should be locked up forever and never released because he committed what crime? The crime of having crude oil flow on his father's land. Abi? And why his Tompolo Ekpumopolo so described by you? Because he belongs to a minority tribe and you belong to a majority tribe.

    Hence, Tompolo Ekpumopolo, in your view, is not human, doesn't deserve a fair trial, nor treatment, should be hanged liked Ken Saro-Wiwa was so that you and your fellow majority tribes who see minorities has nuisance to be just tolerated, but you are drunk and addicted to the crude that flows from the land of Tompolo Ekpumopolo. God will judge all of you.

    Your state is which one? Osun, Oyo? How much do you contribute to this national purse that you keep throwing around figures, anyway? I have news for you. Tompolo Ekpumopolo's state contributes 80% of the billions you say is assigned to national healthcare. If it weren't for Tompolo Ekpumopolo's state, you would have N0 to assign to healthcare. Let's see then, if you would produce all the money the nation is sharing at the expense of your environment – then you would fold your hands and be looking.

    I am so upset. You could have written this article without mentioning Tompolo Ekpumopolo and branding him a criminal. God will punish you.

    You "social media commentators" who dread to write about the real criminals who are killing Nigerians everyday – Boko Haram – for fear of being killed. Yet, you have the guts to take so condenscening about Tompolo Ekpumopolo who's crude you drink, night and day. God will punish you.

    This is what's going to happen – one day, you'll wake up – and Tompolo Ekpumopolo and all that relate to him and you will have no more business. Let's see then if your state – without the crude that Tompolo Ekpumopolo produces – will sustain an ecomony that will have a Stanbic IBTC for you to be jetting around Africa. God will punish you. God will punish you. God will expose you, hypocrite!

  7. Nigeria……..am speechless. I pray for my country Nigeria, so much money yet the fundamentals are not even considered as priority. I seek solace in the transcendental and simply whisper the proor man's prayer "God dey". Great article 🙂

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