Going by recent reports in some sections of Nigerian Medias, I can boldly say that Ibrahim Lamorde is actively on the Iam.
The erstwhile Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is said to have sneaked out of the country Friday, November 13 ostensibly to escape on the ongoing enquiry in the Senate where he was summoned to appear before the Ethics Privileges, and Public Petitions Committee on an alleged case of a N2.05 million fraud.
His surreptitious disappearance had preceded intelligence reports that Mr. Lamorde was overdue for questioning and perhaps arrest by security agents over various allegations against him that bordered on corruption. In response to the Senate’s invitation, Lamorde’s lawyer told lawmakers that his client had travelled abroad for medical treatment.
As I write, former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki who is currently being tried for his alleged involvement in the unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering is seeking permission to travel abroad for medical reasons.
A court order by Justice Adeniyi Ademola had granted him the permission to travel out of the country in order to take care of himself medically.
Before Lamorde and Dasuki was the tale about the hospitalisation of Deziani Allison-Medueke, Nigerian former oil minister who for medical reasons had literally been living aboard even while in office. And the list of public officers who at the drop of a hat hop on a plane and head overseas for medical attention on some real and imagined reasons, goes on and on.
Their favourite destinations include Dabai, South Africa, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, India, the United States and the Caribbean, where tons of the country’s commonwealth are stashed and squandered. Only recently, Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of the oil-rich Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio ended up in a Uk hospital after he was discharged from the National Hospital in Abuja as a result of a vehicular accident in which he was involved to get expert check-up from British doctors.
The new minister of Health has his work cut out for him. A master plan on how to revitalise our government hospitals nationwide that will make them competitive and people-friendly is vitally needed. To secede, I suggest that Health Minister, Isaac Adewole must engage all of the stakeholders in the health care business in this task.
Add this to the ridiculous trend where most of Nigerian so-called upper middle class with access to valuable foreign exchange patronise hospitals aboard at the expense of the nation.
Ordinarily, one would find nothing offensive about this trend. What is however worrisome is that almost every member of this privileged class with a case to answer for corrupt practices are the very same ones who make an ass of the law when they hide under the same law to brow beat the system.
These are the same characters who have by their very nefarious acts denied ordinary Nigerian the right to standard health delivery services. It is equally common knowledge that most hospitals in Nigeria are dysfunctional to say the least.
Most of them are, at best, glorified dispensaries with no medications to dispense and with little or no life-saving equipment, and a very demoralised healthcare workforce to boot.
To stem this tide, I am suggesting that under the current dispensation, the criteria for seeking medical attention abroad for any elected or government official, especially those under any form of judiciable indictment, must be reviewed. With that must first come the declaration of a state of emergency in our health sectors.
It is that bad. Available statistics point to an increasingly and scary high mortality rate among Nigerian due to the poor state of our hospitals and clinics. As a result, the country is losing many of her promising young ones to early death. To exacerbate the situation, there has been a rash of cancer, prostrate, fibroid cases and such other treatable diseases as typhoid, malaria and other water-and-air-borne diseases that could have been contained at source but for lack of standard medical infrastructure, research and resources.
Therefore, I need not add that the new minister of Health has his work cut out for him. A master plan on how to revitalise our government hospitals nationwide that will make them competitive and people-friendly is vitally needed.
To succeed, I suggest that Health Minister Isaac Adewole must engage all of the stakeholders in the health care business in this task. On the positive side, it is worthy of note that Nigeria has always had a surfeit of trained medical personnel at any given time.
I trust that Professor Adewole who is all too familiar with the challenges of that sector, chiefly being that of unfettered access to equipment, facilities and technologies, plus that of re-training or continuous education of staff, already has a strategy to serve the nation in this high priority industry.
It saddens me to think of the well over 4,000 medical doctors of Nigerian origin resident and practicing at the highest level of their profession in America and other part of the world while their are own people at home die daily on the flimsiest health reason.
However, many of these fellow Nigerian born doctors and health care professionals are known to perform unimaginable feats in the UK, Canada, South Africa and various far-flung places around the world. A number of them have been well celebrated in medical circles around the globe.
In a brief relationship with the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) as a client of one of our sister companies, I had privileged access to the impressive database of these group of Nigerian professionals who are excelling individually and collectively in their chosen field. And it might interest Nigerian to know of the scientific exploits of Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade of the University of Chicago, who is one the world’s best hematology oncologists and who was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama to the highly esteemed US National Cancer Advisory Board. Lately, another Nigerian medical doctor, Dr. Bennet Omalu has been making the deadlines in America and around the centre character in the Hollywood depiction of the effect of trauma to players of one of America’s best known pastime, American Football.
His role in discovering through his published findings of the chronic traumatic encephalopathy was played by one of the industry’s-listers, actor Will Smith. The movie: Concussion is due in theatres in the US in Christmas Day and is already enjoying rave reviews across the board.
Space will fail me to catalogue the accomplishments of other Nigerians in medicine around the world – from nurses, emergency room doctors to internists, surgeons, etc. And yet still, we have Nigerian who is daily shelling out huge sums of money to foreign hospitals for health reasons.
The worse case in point was the international embarrassment to Nigeria some years ago when late President Musa Yar’Adua was bounced from one hospital to the other around the world in search of the cure for an ailment that finally marked his ultimate demise.
Before then, I remember the public humiliation to which Nigeria was subjected in the foreign press at the loss of former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo to a surgeon’s knife in far-away Spain and not for lack of sympatico, I am aware that a number of the Nigerian doctor’s nurses and other health care professionals overseas have variously reached out to authorities at home under past administrations but were either rebuffed or frustrated. Or both One of them who I count as a friend suspended a lucrative practice in America some years ago to set up shop in Nigeria on his own dime only to be totally frustrated to the point where he recently confided that not only were his sojourn the worst two years of his professional life but sworn never to work in Nigeria ever again.
Up till now, he is still having a hard time being coaxed or convinced about giving the country of his birth another chance under the new political climate.
Central to his topic is the fact that the government in Abuja must first reckon with the harsh realities of the state of our health sector.
Simply put, it is a national disgrace. It will therefore be unconscionable to suggest that Nigerian be discouraged from seeking medical treatment abroad without the wholesale restoration of our health facilities.
I believe that the choice of Professor Adewole as the man to lead the charge in that sector is indicative of the present administration’s bold determination to provide all Nigerians with excellent and affordable medical services.
Records show that Adewole is not only one of the few progressively minded experts in that field in Nigeria but Adewole has been an integral part of that sector for some time now.
The caveat here is that an actionable plan must be executed, and done expeditiously. The health a Nigerian is in jeopardy. And to grow the economy of our dreams, or any other sector for that matter, we have an acute need for healthy citizens. That is my story. And I stand by it.