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Special Report

A President And His Health Problems



President Umaru Yar’Adua, who is currently in a Saudi hospital, may have decided to stay on in power, at least till 2011. Indeed, it was gathered that the president’s condition in the hospital is improving as there are indications that he was still fit to run the country. Cable News Network (CNN) on Friday quoted an unamed presidency official as saying that the president is not thinking of resigning despite his state of health.

The president was reported to be suffering from medical condition called acute pericarditis which is an ailment of the heart. But CNN quoted the official in its website on Friday that President Yar’Adua is not contemplating quoting for now. According to what CNN called a ‘spokesman’ in the president’s office, “President Umaru Yar’Adua and Vice President (Goodluck Jonathan) will continue in their respective roles and the latter will not assume presidential duties,” — the official said.

It is, however, unclear how soon Yar’Adua will return from his medical trip. There has been a lot of comments on what the constitution says on what happened when the president is not around. Below is a summary of what sections 144, 145 And 146 Of The Constitution Says About What Happens When The President Is Absent From Office.

If The President Sends A Written Declaration To The Heads Of The Senate And House Of Representatives That He Is Going On Leave Or Otherwise Unable To Carry Out His Official Functions, Those Duties Are Carried Out By The Vice President As Acting President Until He Sends A Written Declaration To The Contrary.

The President Ceases To Hold Office If A Two-thirds Majority Of The Executive Council Of The Federation Passes A Resolution Declaring He Is Incapable Of Discharging His Functions And That Declaration Is Verified By A Medical Panel Of Five Doctors Including His Personal Physician.

The Medical Panel Must Certify In A Report To The Heads Of The Senate And House Of Representatives That, In Its Opinion, The President Is “Suffering From Such Infirmity Of Body Or Mind As Renders Him Permanently Incapable Of Discharging The Functions Of His Office”.

Discharge Of Function Of President

The vice-president holds the office of president if the position becomes vacant for reasons including death, resignation or permanent incapacity. If the office of vice-president is also vacant at the time, the president of the Senate holds the office of president for not more than three months, during which there is an election of a new president who completes the unexpired presidential term.

Source: articles 144, 145 and 146 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday that President Umaru Yar’Adua is healthy and urged Nigerians to disregard any rumour on the contrary.

Receiving muslims who came to the Presidential Villa to pay him Sallah homage, the vice president said he was in constant touch with Yar’Adua and that the president wished Nigerians well.

There were very strong rumours on Wednesday that the President had died from his sickness.

Said the vice president, “we spoke yesterday and even this morning. After this time I will even speak with him. He asked me to convey his personal greetings to all Nigerians.

“There are some rumours about some stories, but let me assure Nigerians that the president is okay. We spoke before he left this country and we have been speaking.

“So, discountenance any form of false rumours being spread by mischievous characters in this country. I assure you that Mr. President is healthy.

“I express Mr. President’s appreciation and my own appreciation to the Muslim Community for their consistent prayers. May Almighty Allah continue to bless this country to see that we succeed as a nation and Government in all our endeavours.

“Even as individuals from childhood to adulthood you will require sacrifices. We call on all Nigerians, especially those of us in government, we have to reflect on this and to shun temptations just like Abraham and his men did. This special ceremony reflects what happened in those days, the vice president stated.

Nigerians were not really jolted on Monday night when information filtered out of the Presidential Villa in Abuja that President Umaru Yar’Adua will be jetting out of the country once again to attend this year’s Hajj and see his doctors as well.

The current visit to Saudi Arabia would be his third visit to the country on medical ground. The previous ones were shrouded in secrecy. The President is known to suffer from kidney- related situation, for which he had earlier received medical attention in Germany when he served as governor of Katsina State.

It was also not the first time the president’s health became an issue. In fact, in the last two and a half years, Nigerians have spent longer periods pondering over the state of health of their president than they had ever done for any of his predecessors.

The period of mounting anxiety started before Yar’Adua took office in May 2007. Shortly after his emergence as the presidential hopeful in the 2007 election, news came into the open that the man did not enjoy sound health, which many believe could be a source of hindrance for him as president.

But the then President Olusegun Obasanjo stood stoutly behind his anointed candidate. He was doing much of the talking, as Yar’Adua chose to play the role of a diplomat who should seen but not heard.

When the former governor of Katsina State collapsed midway into the presidential campaign and had to be flown abroad, Obasanjo continued the programme and at the podium in Ado Ekiti, the former President had to put a call through to Yar’Adua on his sick bed to enable him speak to Nigerians and affirm that he was still alive.

At that point, Nigerians were no longer in the dark as to the health condition of the then president-to-be. Apart from the opposition Action Congress (AC), which asked the government to “come clean” on President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health, many Nigerians have kept mute on the matter. The AC, in a statement on Tuesday asked Nigerians to “pray fervently for the president’s good health so he can face the tough task of governance.”

Maxi Okwu of CNPP was quoted in the media as saying: “The president of Nigeria is a public figure and all that concerns him should be in the public domain. But since Umaru Yar’Adua became president they shrouded his obvious health problems in mystery.”They should seriously advise him against going for second term in the interest of himself and in the best interest of Nigeria,” Okwu stated.

One of the first casualties of the president’s state of health is the yearly budgets which have never been well implemented since 2007. Budget implementation has always hovered around 35 and 40 per cent, with undue bickering made to chop into the 2008 and 2009 financial years.

While the National Assembly passed the 2008 budget early in February of that year, the President returned the budget and insisted that some projects that were not contemplated by the executive had been injected into the document by the legislature.

His officials, including the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa, insisted that the matter should be taken to court to decide whether the legislature has the power to initiate projects and include the same in the national budget.

Before reason could prevail, the year was almost half way. Though the president signed the budget on April 15, he gave the condition that some contentious areas would have to be amended before implementation was assured.

The said amendments did not get to the National Assembly till late July, when the lawmakers were already going on their annual recess. It meant that the final copy of budget 2008 was not ready until October of that year.

Everyone had thought that the experience of 2008 will not be repeated in 2009 and the lawmakers themselves attempted to extract commitments from the president that it was serious about the budget.

To convince the lawmakers, the presidency sacked two of the ministers who were believed to have orchestrated the 2008 budget crisis.

However, there was no respite for the nation as the 2009 budget went into the history books as the least implemented. In the average, the budget implementation stood at 35 percent. In some areas, the nation recorded 15 percent implementation. Even most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) projects that were designated as constituency projects remained unimplemented, prompting one lawmaker to declare recently that Nigeria cannot meet the MDGs target of 2015.

In the National Assembly for instance, lawmakers have now raised a supposedly non-issue of seniority or supremacy between the two chambers of the Assembly to a national question.

Before then, the Presidency had looked the other way when members of the House of Representatives stalled the retreat of the Joint Committee on Constitution Review (JCCR) when they demanded parity with the senators and insisted that the Deputy Speaker be named a co-chairman of the JCCR.

Because his party controls two thirds majority of the two chambers, a quick move by the president would have resolved the logjam that is now threatening the nation’s lawmaking process.

The invisible nature of the president has also affected Nigeria’s image within the international community. Only recently, Nigeria lost the bid to secure a top post at the African Union Commission as a result of what is considered ‘failure of diplomacy.’

A diplomat who recently spoke of the dilemma of his colleagues said Nigeria’s position is no longer clear on Zimbabwe, the Congo and Darfur.

Efforts of the foreign Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, to define diplomacy his own way are also said to be landing Nigeria on the wrong side of international politics. Sources said that the president yielded too much ground to the man who does not even have basic backgroung in diplomacy.

IF there is any reason for Nigerians to be worried about the health condition of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua, which many observers have described as deteriorating, it is not only because of the frequency of his trips out of the country for medical reasons, but more importantly because of the exalted position he occupies as the president of the country which places him on a national and international spotlight.

It cannot be said exactly when the president’s health began to draw concerns from the Nigerian populace, but what is obvious is that the first indication that his health was degenerating was at a point in the build-up to the 2007 presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was rumoured to have slumped during a PDP campaign rally, prompting his being flown out of the country for medical check-up in Germany from where rumours began to emanate that he was dead.

The incessant medical trips embarked on by the president to Saudi Arabia subsequently have continued to unnerve many concerned citizens of the country.




His Medical Trips In Office

The President has made no fewer than four trips outside the country since assuming office.

April 14, 2008

It took nearly a year after the March 6, 2007 episode before the president would embark on another medical trip to Germany for a check-up. The president was flown to a German hospital in Weisbaden after hurriedly signing the 2008 Appropriation Bill. Spokesman for the president, Mr Segun Adeniyi, in a statement, said President Yar’Adua would consult his doctors after developing “an indisposition believed to be allergic reaction.”

August 28, 2008

The tension generated by the president’s trip to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment was more intense than before. He spent two weeks during which activities in the Aso Rock ground to a halt. The president, who seemingly had adopted new strategies for leaving the country for medical treatment, changed the destination of his trip from Germany to the oil rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and had the purpose of his journey shrouded in the lesser hajj exercise. When questions were asked by agitated Nigerians over the absence of the nation’s foremost citizen, his aides quickly provided an answer claiming that he had gone to Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj (umrah). A delegation of PDP officers led by the National Chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, went to Saudi Arabia to ascertain the true state of his health.

August 14, 2009

On this occasion, the president travelled to Saudi Arabia for a scheduled medical check-up. Adeniyi, who announced the development in a statement on August 10 2009 explained that the president would also perform the lesser hajj. This trip drew little or no anxiety from Nigerians who were beginning to get a feeling of déjà vu as a result of the president’s regular trips and partly due to how details of his trip was handled this time around. Adeniyi who announced the development in a statement before the trip explained that the President would also perform the lesser hajj.

November 23, 2009

Yar’Adua’s current medical trip to Saudi Arabia took a frightening dimension the following day when news filtered into the country that he had been admitted to a hospital in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, as disclosed to the German Press Agency, dpa, by a doctor there. His trip had earlier on Monday night been announced in a statement made by Adeniyi. The statement read: “President Umaru Yar’Adua will leave Abuja today (Monday) for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While there, the President will call on his personal physician in Jeddah for follow-up medical checks”.

However, the presidential spokesmen neither mentioned the hospital where Yar’Adua would be attended to nor stated the duration of his stay in the kingdom. The latest trip came just five days after the Senate and the House of Representatives had flexed muscles over which chamber would host the presentation of the budget before a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday.

The National Assembly also is not batting an eyelid on the matter. The Senate spokesperson, Senator Ayogu Eze, when broached with the matter by Senate reporters in Abuja, explained that there was nothing unusual about the President’s frequent overseas trips for medical checks. He said in part: “The health of the President is a constitutional issue and it is only a health board of enquiry that can determine the fitness or otherwise of the president; the composition of that board is very clear,”he said.

As apprehension gets rife over the health of the nation’s number one citizen, the questions on the lips of many are- for how long will the president continue to travel out of the country to seek medical care?

Sallah Tragedy: Bus Driver Kills Mother, Child

By Tayo Ogunleye and Laolu Afolabi – 28.11.2009

A woman and her child were killed on Friday in Ibadan, Oyo State, after they were knocked down alongside four other pedestrians by a commercial bus at Agbaje area of Orita-Challenge.

Eyewitnesses told Saturday Tribune that the bus, a 14-seater Mitsubishi model with registration number: LAGOS EX 529 KTU, had swerved off the road and knocked the people into a ditch.

Mrs. Ruth Ayodele and her son, Oluwadamilare, who was said to be less than two years old, reportedly died instantly, while the others who were injured were taken to different hospitals in the area for treatment.

An eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, told Saturday Tribune that the driver ran away immediately after the incident occurred, leaving his passengers behind.

The passengers were said to have hurriedly alighted from the bus and also run away for fear of being attacked by sympathisers who were gathering at the scene of the accident.

Men from the police station in the area later attempted to remove the vehicle from the scene of the accident, but were prevented from doing so by sympathisers.

However, the policemen, who were angry at the development, came back reinforced and began shooting sporadically to scare off the adamant sympathisers, who insisted that the police would not remove the vehicle.

As a result of the development, many people were injured.

Eyewitnesses told Saturday Tribune that those who were injured were also receiving treatment at different undisclosed hospitals.

An unconfirmed report indicated that the vehicle in question was known to be used by the police for patrol, a reason the policemen wanted to save it from being damaged.

Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ms. Bisi Okuwobi, confirmed the incident.

However, efforts to get the divisional police officer in Challenge proved abortive as calls made to his phone did not go.

Budget Impasse: How Presidency Instigated Crisis Between Senate, Reps

Donald Ojogo, South South Bureau Chief – 28.11.2009

Fresh facts emerged on Friday as regards why President Umaru Yar’dua was unable to present the 2010 Appropriation Bill at a joint session of the National Assembly last week.

Saturday Tribune can reveal authoritatively that the impasse leading to the last-minute cancellation of the joint session was actually precipitated by the presidency.

The motive, according to an impeccable source in the National Assembly, was to save the president from the rigour of standing to address the joint session. This is contrary to the widely held belief that the disagreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives on the choice of venue for the presentation had anything to do with crisis of precedence between the two chambers of the parliament.

Perceived disagreement between the two chambers was said to have stalled the joint session from holding and this culminated in the forwarding of the budget speech and the Appropriation Bill to them through separate letters through the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Abba Aji.

This was the first time a Nigerian president would resort to this. But the latest revelation, coming from a senator from a South-South state, illustrated how strategists in the presidency incited some influential members in the lower chamber against the Senate.

The senator, who pleaded not to be named, had been called by Saturday Tribune on Friday for clarifications on the state of health of the president, which had generated anxiety in the country.

He said: “Mr. President is human, as he has always said on his state of health. All these rumours concerning him are unfortunate, or do Nigerians wish that such rumours come to pass? I believe only God knows when a man would die; no human being, not even a physician can correctly say that.


“Maybe if you call in the next three hours, I will be able to give you a clearer picture because I’m yet to see the Senate president for further details on the matter. As far as I know, there is no cause for worry, anybody can fall sick except that some of the president’s aides do not help matters at some points.

“You won’t believe that some persons who claim to love the president more than others held a meeting with some members of the House of Representatives to incite them against us; that they should insist on having the joint session in their chambers instead of the Senate chambers as it has always been. And funny enough, they claimed that the president was more disposed to having the joint session in the lower chamber, which was a blatant lie.

“It is unfortunate that people will play politics with life as if they can create one. What stops them from saying, ‘Look, the president is indisposed. He would rather send in the bill through his adviser?’

“There is nowhere in the constitution that says the president must be physically present to submit an appropriation bill. It was later that some of us learnt that a few days to that Thursday or so, the president had needed some medical attention and as such, he was not likely to have the strength to stand and address us.

“But rather than opening up, these persons played smart by generating crisis between the two chambers and throwing the nation into an arena of perceived impasse.”



What You Need To Know About King Faisal Hospital – Where Yar’Adua Is On Admission

Our Reporter- 28.11.2009

King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSH and RC), Jeddah, began in March 2000, due to the generous gift of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz. It was his wish to provide outstanding medical services to the people of the Western region. This luxurious tertiary care hospital is located in the prestigious Al-Rawdah district, only a few minutes away from the King Abdulaziz International Airport. It occupies 80,000 square metres with a capacity of 460 beds.

The protocol programme aims to provide outpatient care for distinguished guests. Selected nursing and paramedical personnel are staffed on a full time basis. It has a tracking system for pharmacy, phlebotomy, X-ray and other services.

Patient Relations Programme

KFSH and RC adopted the new concept of unifying all the services that a patient may need under the umbrella of the patient relations programme. This programme consists of social service, patient relations, admission and pre-registration, eligibility, medical coordination, medical records and home health care.

Community Relations Programme

KFSH and RC unified the three departments of media affairs and health education, public relations and the hospital club under one department to ensure the best service to the public. The programme aims to promote the services of KFSH and RC-Jeddah as the leading health services provider in the region, in order to benefit the community and raise health awareness.

The telemedicine programme was established to support both national and international medical needs. Telemedicine services are integrated into routine practice where radiology and pathology images can be transmitted to other medical facilities. Services provided by telemedicine include— videoconferencing, tele-pathology, tele-radiology, interactive distance learning programme, and patient education seminars.

In order to provide the best patient care information support, the computer and hospital information centre has established a hospital wide network infrastructure. This network is state of the art technology. The hospital recently signed a contract with Cerner Arabia for a clinical management information system. The hospital is in the implementation stage of integrating its management information systems.

Total Quality Management

KFSH and RC-Jeddah has adopted a customer driven quality management philosophy. The quality management department coordinates the efforts of quality and performance improvement in the organisation. In a further effort to meet international health care quality standards, the hospital has committed to the accreditation process through the Joint Commission for International Accreditation (JCIA). Quality management is coordinating the efforts of KFSH to meet the 11 standards of care that the JCIA established for meeting quality health care.

HOBA was established to encourage KFSH and RC staff to share their knowledge and skill with colleagues in all the regions of the kingdom, thereby ensuring that all patients distant from KFSH and RC still have access to more convenient and cost effective health care. HOBA also designs programs to train health professionals, and addresses health related issues.

Technical and Research Affairs

KFSH and RC is an equal partner in the center of innovative minimally invasive therapies (CIMIT). The CIMIT partnership includes four other world class centres of health care excellence, and develops the latest technology and methodologies to reduce the physical trauma of surgery.

KFSH and RC is entitled to have its faculty/ staff participate in single or multi disciplinary research projects. KFSH and RC also has agreements for cooperation with elite universities and medical centres like John Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, Baylor University, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Academic and training affairs manage the residency and internship programmes. To enhance and support specialisation, they coordinate and organise the training programmes between KFSH and RC and the other partners in the community, such as the faculties of universities and governmental hospitals. Academic and training affairs also organises local and international seminars and symposiums.

Medical Services

The Department of Medicine includes internal medicine, nephrology and renal transplant units, a pulmonary section, an endoscopy unit, diabetes, gastro-enterology and infectious disease.

Outpatient clinics receive 1200 patients daily in the various clinics, which include general surgery, medicine, pediatrics, OB and gyne, neurosciences and oncology.

The oncology department includes adult and pediatric hematology, bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and oncology.

The neurosciences department provides world class clinical care to patients to diagnose and treat neurological disorders, such as sleeping disorders. The department includes neurosurgery, clinical neuropsychology, psychiatry and clinical pathology. In addition, due to the spread of epilepsy in the kingdom, the neurosciences department initiated a complete treatment programme for epilepsy that is accredited by the International Office of Epilepsy, which is linked to the World Health Organisation.

KFSH and RC-Jeddah is an important referral centre for high risk adult and congenital heart procedures, such as atherectomy, stinting of coronary angioplasty, balloon dilations of stenosed valves and coarctation of the Aorta. Surgery includes ENT, ophthalmology, urology, general surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and the day surgery unit.

Pediatrics provides specialised medical services in addition to general pediatrics. Pediatric specialties include: gastroenterology, nephrology, renal transplant, rheumatology, metabolic diseases, allergy and immunity diseases.

The ophthalmology section has two well equipped clinics. It contains a contact lens fitting room, A and B ultrasound, argon laser and yag laser, fundus photography camera, visual field, and ximer laser suites. It also encompasses an operating room for minor cases, and a fully equipped operating room for major operations.

Dentistry provides comprehensive dental services. It offers high quality care, encompassing pedodentices, crainofacial surgery, prosthodentist, orthodontics, dental laboratory and recovery room.

The Department of Pathology and the medical laboratory offer an extensive range of advanced diagnostic clinical services, using the latest technology. It is pursuing accreditation by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).

Radiology includes the following modalities: MRI and CT; nuclear medicine; ultrasound, angiography, fluoroscopy, and general radiology. radiology also performs diagnostic, therapeutic and invasive procedures, including ultra sound and CT guided biopsy.

The intensive care unit is a state of the art facility. It is the largest ICU department in the kingdom. It occupies the second floor with a capacity of 54 beds, including 16 beds for surgical and medical, eight cardiac surgery beds, eight ICU beds, eight coronary care beds, and 14 beds for the neonatal Intensive care unit.

The Department of Emergency Services consists of 22 beds, 10 patient examination rooms, two critical rooms, and four pediatric beds. It also has a plaster room, ENT, ophthalmology, OB and Gyne, and operating room for minor procedures and a VIP section.

There are more than 800 nurses from over 15 countries in the nursing department at KFSH and RC-Jeddah. The nursing department is a mosaic of excellence, education and experience blended with culture, competence and caring. Most of the nurse in the outpatient department are bilingual, to ensure effective communication with patients. The nursing department embraces total quality management philosophy in all services. One of the objectives of the nursing department is to develop a strong continuous education programme for all nurses. Collaboration with community partners, such as King Abdul Azizz University is a major focus of Nursing Affairs.

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Special Report

What I Am Grateful For



Title: What I Am Grateful For
Authors: Soye Aguda & Raphael Aguda
Number Of Pages: 24
Date Of Publication: 2023
Reading Age: 3 – 12 years
Book Reviewer: Christian Ayasuk Ph.D
Written by Soye Aguda, and Raphael Aguda, is a colourful and illustrative book that is specifically tailored for the kids and teaches us, in very simple and clear language, the reasons why we should be thankful for what we have.
In this book, the authors, Soye and Raphael , demonstrate to the kids that being alive is a blessing; that being able to have food to eat, or clothes to wear, or shelter, or ability to read and comprehend, among others, is enough for everyone to be grateful for.
People who are always thankful go far in life. They often receive more. One African adage says: If you are grateful for today, tomorrow will offer you more things to be thankful about.
And this is ideal for every one of us, including the kids.
It Is also pertinent to note that Gratitude is a lifestyle, and should be gladly and consistently displayed. (1 Thessalonians 5:28).
The scripture says ungrateful people are always vain in their imaginations, and foolish in their hearts (Romans 1:21). So, this book guides the hearts of our young ones to reaping the fruits of GRATEFULNESS.
This “little”, yet powerful book teaches us that Gratitude or thankfulness is an attitude that should be developed, learned, and assimilated.
After reading this book, we’ll begin the see why being grateful is a virtue:
Gratitude brings abundance and attracts God’s blessings. It can eradicate stagnation and destruction in life (1 Samuel 25:2-13). Gratitude can bring about fruitful relationships with fellow human beings, and with God Almighty.
It is important to note that gratitude starts with the very little we have been given, so, this book teaches us to appreciate those “little” things. Importantly, being ungrateful can make us loose what we already have.
In summary, WHAT I AM GRATEFUL FOR, by Soye Aguda, and Raphael Aguda, inspires godly virtues in the lives of our kids, and therefore highly recommended to both the young and old.
Remember, when we are grateful we become more productive (Psalms 67:5-6).

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Special Report

Eze Ogba @80: A Salute To Greatness



Critics and admirers fondly refer to him variously and severally as amiable, charismatic, blunt, visionary, an inspirational and committed King, a philosopher King, a philanthropist, an orator and motivator, a man of truth, perception and action, a defender of the oppressed, a versatile and courageous monarch. Indeed, there is no denying the fact that he has lived up to the billings.
This perhaps explains why many have sometimes misunderstood His Eminence, Sir (Dr) Chukumela Nnam Obi II, the Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland, who turns 80 today. And if we are to believe the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson that “to be great is to be misunderstood,” the Oba truly deserves a golden place in the pantheon of greats.
A consummate monarch imbued with congenital aura that shines like neon light, the Eze Ogba superintends the grassroots consciousness of his kingdom with mercurial audacity and clinical precision, and bestrides Nigeria’s traditional landscape like a magnificent colossus.
A man of capacious intellect with deft navigational capability, Sir Nnam Obi II possesses a conservative charm which accommodates all divergent opinions, even as it is difficult for his critics to dislodge his position on matters of public or political interest.
Nevertheless, the attestation to the greatness of this first class citizen and traditional ruler is underlined impressively by his array of honours and appointments since ascending the ancient Oba (Eze Ogba) throne on December 19, 1970, upon the death in April that year of Oba Wokoma Obi.
He has been an Officer of the Order Of the Niger (OON), Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS), Justice of Peace (JP), Grand Patron, Nigeria Union of Journalists; Knight Grand Commander of the Mystical Order of St Peter; Doctor of Letters (D. Litt), Los Angeles, California; Doctor of Technology, and First Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (1980-84); Doctor of Science (D.Sc) and Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure, 1992-2000; Fellow, Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku; Chairman, Rivers State Conference of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs, 1972-79; member, International Committee on Chieftaincy and Royalty for FESTAC (Nigeria’s representative), 1974-77; Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, 1994-96; pioneer National President, Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), 1994-2000; member, National Council on Nigerian Vision (NCNV), 1996-99; member and Elder Statesman, National Political Reform Conference (NPRC), 2004; Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, 2007-2009 and a lot more.
Since his ascendance to the sacred throne of Eze Ogba over 49 years ago, the light of Sir Nnam Obi II’s wisdom has continued to shine to the admiration of his people and others across the globe. The Ogba people have continued to preserve their loyalty to the sacred monarch as various group pay him solidarity visits in support of his visionary and dynamic leadership and efforts at bringing peace to the kingdom. No doubt, the Eze Ogba belongs to that class of mortals whom the legendary classical playwright, Williams Shakespeare said achieved greatness.
Yet, appraising Oba Nnam Obi II’s resume, evokes an intriguing paradox as his road to greatness was not without bumps and potholes.
Born by remarkable intervention of destiny on November 20, 1940 into the royal family of Umueze-Ogba kindred of Ogba at the foot of the great Opowu shrine of Ahiakwo Nwaozegbe, a sacred temple of worship by the Ogba people, Oba Nnam Obi II had a rather poor and humble background as things were extremely difficult for him.
Infact, the claws of poverty and the drudgery of hard labour were so much that it got to a point where the young Chukumela prayed for death to no avail.
Disappointed that his prayer was not answered, the young ruler-to-be went to his father’s grave and asked: “why did you bring me to the world and ran away.” But these travails, rather than discourage him, toughened and made him have patience, despite being orphaned on both sides and colonized by the insensitive nature of man as exemplified in his brothers who made him a total stranger.
Resilient and determined, and perhaps edged in by his destiny, the young Chukumela, relying on sheer force of will-power and self-support, paved his way through primary and secondary education.
On countless times, he dug sand at Omoku River, fished at the River Niger to make ends meet. Even at a point in his life, he was a newspaper vendor in Kano.
Undeterred by his condition, he excelled in academics at Sancta Maria High School, Omoku where he was a pioneer student. His excellent leadership qualities were identified quite erly as he was at various times labour prefect and senior prefect.
It was for this reason that his school principal then, Rev Fr. G.B. Kilbride wrote in his testimonial that: “Chukumela Obi is a very remarkable boy who is being groomed by the fate of great suffering into a great office.”
However, owing to what the Eze Ogba himself described as barriers of life, he finished secondary education at the age of 26 in 1966. He explains: “Some people were born without certain hurdles. But whether hurdles come early or later in life, I have learnt my lessons. They are all one and the same. The God who occasioned both hurdles did not intend to punish anybody. He intended them for experience. We must learn these experiences. We have come here (this world) to learn.”
Even at that, he does not wish anyone, whether his children or even his detractors, that kind of experience as, according to him, they may not have the patience and ability to cope with it.
Oba cautions that in life nobody should be boastful or be deterred by the situation he finds himself as God is the excellent judge who knows it all, and can deprive man of his needs and wants at a particular time just to observe him.
According to the monarch, provided one does not do things that are wrong in the sight of God, time would come when He would exalt the poor. To him, everyone should strive assiduously to explore situations and even opportunities opened to him in life as an individual with a view to destroying impediments to self-actualization.
It is irrefragable that Oba’s humble beginning epitomizes the parable of perseverance and triumph over the vicissitudes of life. As the Curator of the Ancient Mystical Order of the Rose and Cross (AMORC), Spencer Lewis, once put it: “there is no destiny, no fate, no change, that can circonvent nor hinder, nor control the firm resolve of a determined soul”.
Today, he is unarguably one of the few bright stars in the throbbing firmament of Nigeria’s traditional institution.
Pondering the meaning of life and his place in the cosmos as a mystic and traditionalist, the Eze Ogba has been living in the service of his people, confronting the resultant challenges therein and bringing integrity, straight forwardness, and serene peace into the governance of Ogba Kingdom.
It is perhaps as a measure of the magnitude and influence of Oba’s existential excellence, charming personality, and unique traditional inheritance that successive administrations in Nigeria have always sought his wise counsel, especially at every critical moment of the nation’s life.
Married to four wives with several children, most of whom are holding their own in their various callings, Oba proudly says loud and clear that he is happier than many who are married to one wife. He maintains that such persons have more problems than himself, adding that anybody who visits his palace would not know that he is married to four wives.
Albeit, he abhors autocracy, he is a very strict disciplinarian who takes full charge of his palace at all times with his word as law.
At his usual morning devotions, Oba, a Knight of the Mystical Order of Saint Peter, inculcates in his wives and children, the sense of oneness and truth, and makes everyone realize that his possession is theirs.
As a mystic and philosopher versed in the different characteristics of people, he blends his wives different qualities to have matrimonial bliss, harmony, and cohesive family.
However, Oba Nnam Obi II who says he ought to have married before his years at Sancta Maria High School in 1962 in compliance with his step mother’s advice to do so as the only surviving son of his mother, states that he owes his success to the immeasurable support of his wives and children, and to the understanding cooperation, and unflinching loyalty of his people.
No doubt, Odudu, Anyiama Osa, Ekwueme, as he is fondly called by his ever loving people has, by all parameters, lived a fulfilled life, having exhibited and manifested a wonderful and divinely-inspired progressive pilgrimage of sterling leadership.
These days, owing to age and health, Oba prefers pounded yam, chicken, fishes and non-carbohydrate foods. And to unwind, he watches television, listens to radio and reads newspapers even though he has no dull moments at all, given the number of children he has, and the swarm of visitors to his palace.
And as with all his birthday celebrations, even if low-keyed, his daughters, the Oba hints, do “compose songs and sing like sparrows to my delight,” saying, he does not regret having them, just as the boys.
As we toast to the long life and good health of this great African traditional ruler at 80 today, may those his beautiful daughters never get tired of singing like sparrows to his delight and to the satisfaction of everyone, and to the glory of God.


By: Victor Tew / Vincent Ochonma

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Special Report

60 Years Of Nigeria’s Health Sector: Challenges And Way Forward



Like every other sector of the Nigerian state, the country’s health sector has evolved from one stage to another, up to the present state.
From the pre-colonial era, when treatment for ailments was based purely on traditional medicine as it relates to different parts of the country, through the emergence of the first modern medical services in Nigeria, then during the various European expeditions in the early, to mid19th century, to the era of organised healthcare services, and finally to the present era of deliberate and planned brain drain in the sector, the development in Nigeria’s heath sector has been one that requires more attention than is given it.
There is no doubt that the profession of medicine has been quite active in terms of changing for the better in accordance with global demands. For instance, the Health care systems have undergone changes, and, except for a few exceptions, the changes are for the better:
The way in which physicians are trained has changed. The management of disease entities has also changed at various points. The change has also cut across disease entities that have been treated and available therapeutic modalities, which have also undergone continual changes.
On attaining independence in 1960, the health sector, like other sectors, inherited the centralised health care services format of the colonial era, which vested the authority to take key decisions in the sector in the hand of the central government.
Then, while medical services developed and expanded with industrialisation, most medical doctors were civil servants, except those working for missionary hospitals, who combined evangelical work with healing.
Among the civil service doctors, one was appointed the Chief Medical Officer, who became the principal executor of health care policies in Nigeria, along with several other junior colleagues comprising senior medical officers and medical officers, who formed the nucleus of the ministry of health in Lagos. The detail of centralised administration of health services then was complex and reflected the complex political transformation of the whole region.
The health care services in Nigeria have been characterised by short-term planning, as is the case with the planning of most aspects of the Nigerian life. The major national development plans are “The First Colonial Development plan from 1945-1955″, “The Second Colonial Development plan from 1956-1962”, and “The First National Development Plan from 1962-1968”.
Others are: “The Second National Development Plan from 1970-1975”, “The Third National Development Plan from 1975-1980″, “The Fourth National Development Plan from “Nigeria’s Five year Strategic Plan from 2004-2008″.
All of these plans formulated goals for nationwide health care services.
The overall national policy for Nationwide Health Care Services was clearly stated in a 1954 Eastern Nigeria government report on “Policy for Medical and Health Services.” This report stated that the aim was to provide national health services for all.
The report emphasised that since urban services were well developed, going by the country’s standards then, the government intended to expand rural services. These rural services would be in the form of rural hospitals of 20-24 beds, supervised by a medical officer, who would also supervise dispensaries, maternal and child welfare clinics and preventive work, such as sanitation workers.
The policy made local governments contribute to the cost of developing and maintaining such rural services, with grants-in-aid from the regional government. This report was extensive and detailed in its description of the services envisaged. This was the policy before and during independence. After independence in 1960, the same basic health care policy was pursued, and still is the case.
By the time the Third National Development Plan was produced in 1975, more than 20 years after the report mentioned above, not much had been done to achieve the goals of the Nationwide Health Care Services policy.
This plan, which was described by General Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of the Military Government, as “A Monument to Progress”, stated: “Development trends in the health sector have not been marked by any spectacular achievement during the past decade”.
As far as development of the health sector was concerned, this development plan appeared to have focused attention on trying to improve the numerical strength of existing facilities rather than evolving a clear health care policy. This, in a nutshell seems to have been the lot of Nigeria’s development in the health sector, and, in fact, all other vital sectors of the economy.
Health care in Nigeria has been prone to so many problems which are attributable to the fact that health services are in great demand following what could be tagged astronomical increase in population but accessibility to health services been very low. The cause of this has been related to factors such as socio-economic, cultural, political as well as poor planning and/or poor implementation of health policies and programmes by the government. There are also problems of availability, accessibility, affordability, sustainability of health services and weak referral system.
In 2000, World Bank noted that “deprivations that lead to ill health are common in developing countries, especially in Nigeria, and the poor in Nigeria are particularly at risk”.
According to Adam Wagstaff, a Research Manager of the Human Development team in the Development Research Group of the World Bank, ”the relationship between poverty and access to health care can be seen as part of a larger circle where poverty leads to ill health and ill health maintains poverty”.
The implication is that to effectively address health care, other relevant sectors that directly or indirectly contribute to poverty, which is a key factor in enhancing provision of health care and accessibility of same has to be addressed.
Unfortunately, policies in these sectors, especially for the negative impacts, are often not based on health criteria because the health sector itself tends to focus its interventions within the health care delivery system, not necessarily in other relevant sectors that constitute the sources of the problem.
For instance, to ensure totally effective health care delivery system, regular power supply is required to power all necessary equipment at all times. In the same vein, to totally prevent mosquito-borne diseases, environmental planning should ensure adequate provision of drainages avoid water stagnation, however little. As a result, the enormous health benefits accruable from interventions outside the health sector are not realized.
The education sector is another key long-established determinant for quality health and health care in any development-oriented society, but which has pitiably been bastardized, knowing that better education allows individuals to be more effective in converting health care and other health-enhancing goods into health.
The challenges facing the health sector in Nigeria, in sixty years of the country’s existence are, to say the least, numerous. But it can be summarised to include inaccessibility of quality health care, poor hygiene, corruption, malnutrition, lack of access to safe drinking water, poor health infrastructure, fake drugs, insufficient financial investment, and lack of sufficient health personnel.
Government’s performance in the health sector has been at best abysmal. Investment in infrastructure has been poor and meagre remuneration for health workers has created a massive brain drain to the US and Europe.
The annual budget of the government for the health sector is 4.17% of the total national budget, which is equivalent to only $5 per person annually.
In more recent Nigeria, the expected lofty goals in the health sector have not been achieved. The capacities of the facilities that emerged from previous efforts have been stretched and infrastructure broken beyond repair. Primary health care services now exist only in name. The common man has virtually reverted to the herbalist and traditional healers for care because of access to quality health care and affordability issues.
The elites have perfected medical tourism to India, Singapore, South Africa and even Ghana. This is in the face of a rapidly changing disease patterns in which infectious diseases have been replaced by behavioural, environmental and poverty-related diseases.
Hardly a year passes without a major national strike by nurses, doctors, or health consultants. The major reasons for these strikes are poor salaries and lack of government investment in the health sector, and this is in the face of many Nigerians not being able to afford private hospitals which are simply too expensive.
Unfortunately, again, the management of the National Health Scheme (NHS) through the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) which should ordinarily help people to secure better quality health care, had been bedeviled by corruption, crushing the opportunity and further making quality medical care inaccessible for people who contributed to the system.
The situation becomes worse when one considers the fact that the problem has nothing to do with lack of medical personnel. Certainly not! This is because about 77 per cent of black doctors in the United States of America are said to be Nigerians, and Nigerians have achieved tremendous feats in American medicine.
A good example is Doctor Oluyinka Olutoye, a Nigerian based in Houston, who made history recently by bringing out a fetus from a mother’s womb to remove a tumor, and then successfully restoring the unborn baby to the womb. In fact, there is rarely any top medical institution in the United States or Europe where you won’t find Nigerians managing at the top level.
The health sector, no doubt, has failed largely due to inept leadership. Despite the huge talents of Nigerians, which are on display in health sectors all over the world, Nigeria’s health system is failing. Donor countries and multilateral organisations are aware of these challenges, but there’s little they can do to improve the situation.
The key solution, therefore, is for Nigeria’s policymakers and health professionals, including Nigerians in Diaspora, to come together and create a long-term blueprint for the sector. The term should not only be ideally realisable in the context of the country’s peculiar socio-cultural and economic reality, but should also include a strategy for success in the next 25-35 years with timelines and key performance indicators.
If this can be judiciously done, Nigeria can truly and easily be moving towards its dream of attaining that “Giant of Africa” status it has so much desired but truly failed to achieve in it in reality.


By:  Sogbeba Dokubo

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