PPDC advocates for speedy completion of abandoned hospital in A’Ibom
By BENJAMIN JIMMY
In what appears to be a rear of hope for the people Nsit Atai local government area, a non governmental organization, Private and Public Development Centre(PPDC), Abuja has taken the initiative to compel the Akwa Ibom State Government to complete the general hospital located in the area, abandoned 30 years ago after construction work had started.
Disclosing this to newsmen during a press conference at ROSMOHR Hotels, Ewet House Estate, Uyo, on Friday, the Programme Director of PPDC, Mr. Onyechachi Chukwu said work for the construction of the hospital started in 1992 during the administration of late Akpan Isemin who awarded the contract, but the construction was stalled by many intractable issues on the part of government, and litigations on the part of the people of Odot Community where the supposed general hospital is sited.
Mr. Chukwu said as a centre saddled with the responsibility of promoting accountability, transparency in governance processes by monitoring projects awarded by governments at all levels, tracking the levels of implementation and compliance to standards stipulated in contract documents, PPDC was moved after tracking the project during its project monitoring tour around Akwa Ibom to compel the state government to complete the hospital owing to lack of a general hospital in the area.
He said the centre started last year upon discovery of the project, to compel the government to complete the hospital through advocacies and roundtable discussions with government representatives and the people of Odot Community, adding that these efforts had yielded results.
The Programme Director said the intervention of the centre was made possible considering that the 30 years abandoned hospital was captured in the 2022 Budget of Akwa Ibom State, saying that with this, PPDC was now working to see to the execution of the budget for the project.
“ Nsit Atai has just one general hospital that was abandoned 30 years ago. Through our project tracking, we identified that one of the major problems of the community is actually lack of a general hospital.
“Throughout last year, we created advocacies; we had roundtable discussions with the community people and the representatives of the government. And they had made promise as much as possible to see that something is done about it.
“Luckily this year, we have seen in the budget that Nsit Atai General Hospital has actually been included in the budget of 2022 which is a great news for us. The sum of one hundred million was budgeted for the project.
“So, what we are trying to do is to see that this project is not only in the budget, but it is actually implemented. You know how
“So, we had collaborated with the people through writing series of letters to see that we get attention to the community and local government”.
Chukwu who expressed hope that the people of the area would benefit a lot from the project when completed, said PPDC was committed to the implementation and ensuring that the community was carried along in the process.
Giving details of how the centre operates, the Programme Director disclosed that PPDC was established in 2003 with a mandate to ensure accountability and transparency in governance processes, access public finance expenditure information through the use of Freedom of Information Act and to ensure that projects awarded are properly implemented.
Disclosing details of the abandoned project, the former member representing Nsit Atai State Constituency and leader of the Project Implementation Committee, an indigene of Odot Community in Nsit Atai, Hon. Inyang Ekpe revealed that the hospital started as was envisaged and got to 85 per cent completion rate, but was stalled owing to what he described as lack of proper engagement of the people which he said resulted in litigations.
He revealed that in 2001, all the issues regarding the land and ownership were resolved out of court, but expressed sadness that their efforts aimed at ensuring the completion of the hospital thereafter proved unsuccessful.
“ The hospital was a vision of our then governor, Obong Akpan Isemin. This hospital was established in 1992. The project started in earnest and was about 85 per cent completion. That is the extent to which the project went to.
“But somewhere along the line; may be some people in the community were not properly engaged in terms of land issues. So, some legal trappings went in.
“But somewhere and somehow, these issues were resolved by the influence of the community since 2001 and then we couldn’t bring it up on the government agenda any longer”.
The community leader decried the situation where the 30 hectares of the land on which the project is sited were abandoned for 30 years without any use, describing government’s attitude towards the hospital project as improper.
The former member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly appreciated the government for the love shown to the people by inserting the project in the 2022 Budget, but advised that the project should be realized to keep the dream of the former Governor alive.
Hon. Ekpe also commended PPDC for coming all the way from Abuja to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of Akwa Ibom through its sustained advocacy, town hall meetings and several other measures which, according to him, were steps to bring about the functionality of the hospital.
A woman leader from the community, Mrs. Nsemeke Effiong Ikpe, who also spoke at the conference said the completion of the hospital will take care of the health challenges of the people, especially pregnant women, whom she said were finding it difficult to move distances in times of emergencies.
She said this state of affairs had forced some pregnant women to patronize unqualified healthcare personnel which most times, she said resulted in avoidable deaths.
The Secretary of the Project Implementation Committee, Mr. Aniefiok Solomon who recounted an incident where a chief in the community died as a result of lack of a hospital in Nsit Atai, pleaded with the government to complete the project to forestall similar death that could be avoided.
He noted that the community had put a lot of efforts in place since 2020, one of which was writing of letters to the appropriate authorities to have the project completed, but regretted that none paid off.
He however thanked PPDC for coming to their aid and the state government for capturing the project in this year’s budget, while hoping that something will be done before the end of the year.
Another member of Odot Community, Eld. Akpan Dan Ekpo berated state government for sloganeering the ‘Dakadda’ philosophy, but failed to do so in the execution of the abandoned general hospital.
Eld. Ekpo who lamented the plight of pregnant women in the area whom he said were usually challenged during childbirth, recalled that over nine women had lost their lives as a result of patronising local birth attendants.
He said these losses and many more were enough to compel government to complete the hospital, and however expressed the hope that the ‘Dakadda’ mantra would spark up interest which would see to the completion of the project.