The “world class” multi-billion Naira hospital built and commissioned by former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has been closed. Everyone knows that the hospital was never a world class since when the former governor had a minor accident, he decided to fly abroad instead of being treated in his “world class” hospital. Simply, he had executed another fraud which politicians unleash on Nigerian citizens daily.
The Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has been shut down, just two years after it was built and commissioned by the administration of former governor, Godswill Akpabio. Almost all the health workers in the hospital were foreigners, mostly from India.
Mr. Akpabio had boasted that the hospital, which he described as ‘world class’, was better equipped and higher in status than university teaching hospitals in Nigeria, and that it was going to promote medical tourism in the country.
The multi-million dollar hospital was shut down in September after its private managers terminated their contract with the state government and withdrew from the facility.
When visiting the hospital on Monday evening, the facility was locked down; apart from the security officials, not a single person was inside its massive buildings.
Visitors were not allowed entry
You read it right. A governor built a public hospital, imported foreigners and put that hospital in the hands of private managers to run. Why did he do that? It is simply the lack of vision to develop indigenous capabilities. Nigerian leaders always think that every corner can be cut: just get someone abroad and the problem will be fixed. But that is a mirage and a total illusion. Hiring and maintaining foreign labor is expensive and it rarely works unless you are in the oil & gas sector. For a state hospital which is largely a social enterprise, a simple financial model would have shown the former governor that his idea was not sustainable.
Unless you are a doctor working in a government hospital and running a private clinic by the side, it is very challenging to make profit running clinics and hospitals in Nigeria. Why those doctors that run clinics by the side make money is that they always share government facilities and tools without reimbursing governments. I had the experience many years ago as I was entering secondary school. I went to the local government general hospital for my Doctor’s Report which was required in the school. The medical director told me that I should come to his house to collect the report. Of course, as a kid, I did and he gave me the report. I did pay him and not the government. Every kid in my school had the same experience. We went to the government clinic but were diverted to the home of the medical director. That experience is common today.
But when it is a state government and you think you will make money to cover dollar-denominated expenses, you are not serious. The hospital could not even last up to five years, thereby proving how off the government was in its financial planning.
The building, in coming months, will be covered by weeds and criminals would go in and steal the electrical systems. Within the next two years, the building will be a cave. Another money – N41 billion – wasted in Nigeria!
Nigeria needs to learn that homegrown capability is the only way to build sustainable public enterprises. Imagine if the governor had developed a ten year plan that would extend beyond his tenure and subsequent administrations commit to it. He could decide to train 200 Akwa Ibom doctors within the first six years and in the 7th year commission this hospital. Some foreigners could be hired to support the growth of the local doctors, but over time, they will be phased out. That would be a sustainable model than flying doctors when you do not have a clear roadmap to cover the costs.