Olugbenga ADANIKIN reports about the travails of the residents of Iraye, an NNPC host-community in Ogun State that got a 20-bed modern hospital facility, after almost 20 years of waiting, but still lacks access to healthcare. The clinic is meant to serve residents of 14 neighbouring villages. Though the state government is expected to take ownership after completion, it has not done so and the clinic is now overtaken by bushes.
“QUEEN Elizabeth took this route when she came to Nigeria in 1956,” that is how Rasheed Alimi, the Community Head of Iraye started his conversation with this reporter.
“This is where she passed,” he said, pointing at the first federal road linking Odonguyan, Ikorodu in Lagos state to Sagamu in Ogun state – now abandoned.
He made this comment to stress the point that the community has been neglected despite decades of existence.
Iraye is located in Sagamu Local Government Area (LGA) of Ogun State, an ancient town with no modern infrastructure. Since independence, the community has craved for basic amenities such as electricity, water, healthcare facilities.
Long years of waiting for a health care facility yet left to rot after completion
“It is over 15 years that I have been making appeal to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),” says Alimi. “They asked what I wanted but I told them I don’t need money but something physical that would be beneficial to the whole community as a hospital, good road and electricity.”
He later added a gas station to his request. In March 2019, the Nigerian Pipelines and Storage Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC, came to his rescue. A 20-bed hospital facility was constructed and commissioned by the company in the presence of the state government. The clinic was delivered with a new Mikano power generating set and borehole facility.
Women, especially pregnant ones, were full of excitements when the clinic was completed. Located next to the chief’s house, it is meant to serve 14 rural communities.
“I thought it was a joke until the project became a reality.”
But nine months after it was commissioned, Ogun State government has neither deployed medical staff to manage the clinic nor stocked the clinic with drugs.
“When pregnant women who used to line up at the gate of the health centre eventually got tired of visiting, they stopped coming,” the security guard at the clinic told The ICIR.
Findings by The ICIR showed that the hospital facility is equipped with modern medical technology.
Left to ruin
Now the hospital is covered with bushes. The new power generating set left unused has also begun to depreciate. Inside, thick cobwebs are everywhere, and beds are covered with dust, though, the painting is still fresh,
The ICIR counted 10 modern hospital beds in the male ward and 10 beds in the female ward. Aside, there is a laboratory for blood test, consulting rooms, large reception for patients, nurses’ bay and delivery rooms, stores with extra medical equipment such as oxygen, baby weigh, among others.
The facility is also equipped with giant refrigerators; air conditioners, modern furniture, waste bins of different colours and a parking space that could accommodate about eight cars. The clinic is enclosed by high fence.
Now part of the land in the premises has been converted to cassava farmland by the security guard at the gate who has been owed wages for seven months. Two security men were hired by NNPC for the hospital at inception.
“The state or local government ought to pay their income but till now, we have not heard anything,” Alimi told The ICIR.
Scary statistics on death of pregnant women and under-five children
Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 Report jointly released by the National Population Commission (NPC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Health Organisation, the Global Fund among others in November ranks Ogun State among those with high under-five mortality.
“By state, under-5 mortality ranges from 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in Ogun State,” key findings of the survey state.
“Children whose mothers have no education are more likely to die young (170 deaths per 1, 000 live births) than children whose mothers have more than secondary education (56 deaths per 1,000 live births)
The figure contributes to national statistics of under-five and maternal mortality put at 2, 445.
“Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under five and 145 women of childbearing age,” according to a report by The Guardian.
“Nigeria is the second-largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world accounting for 14 per cent of World’s maternal mortality deaths.”
The world Atlas also ranked Nigeria fourth among countries with the highest number of maternal mortality – 814 deaths per 100, 000 births.
But United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official data on maternal mortality, as at September described Nigeria’s status as ‘Very High’ in the range of between (500-999) deaths. It specifically pegged the figure at 917 deaths of pregnant women per 100, 000 live births.
Ironically, Nigeria is among the signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at achieving specific developmental goals, particularly goal 3.1, reducing incidents of child and maternal deaths to 7.5 per cent annually to realize the goal by 2030.
Government turns deaf hear
A former aide of Amosun, who spoke under the condition of anonymity said though the hospital was built under past government, the new administration might not do much. According to him, the 250-bed healthcare facility built in Abeokuta by the past governor also has been abandoned.
Kunle Somorin, the spokesperson to the governor was contacted via phone but he repeatedly terminated the calls. Text messages sent to him were not replied.
Notwithstanding, the community head has appealed to the state government to urgently provide the centre with qualified doctors, nurses and drugs to make it operational.
“NNPC spent so much money to build this clinic, but we don’t want it to become a waste,” he told The ICIR.