By Charles Ogbu
N’ezie, “Ịfe ólú melu Igbo dị ofu mana ife Igbo melu ọnwe fa di asaa”.
“They” inflicted one injury on Ndigbo while the latter inflicted seven injuries on themselves.
I spent the last one month transversing the entire Southeast States, checking the condition of PUBLIC SCHOOLS and GENERAL HOSPITALS, and what I saw left me wondering whether to pause and die crying or die laughing. Crying at the dearth of leadership in AlaIgbo or laughing at our conscientious refusal to see that our bigger demons are from the inside.
From my finding backed by video and picture evidence, there is a fundamental tragedy of leadership in our various states; one that will ultimately doom us all even faster than any other outside enemy can. Make conscious effort to look beyond the media theatrics and propaganda churned out by govt officials and their aides and you’d be ashamed of what you will discover – a complete breakdown of governance at the state and local govt level.
NO SOUTHEAST STATE CAN BOAST OF A GENERAL HOSPITAL EQUIPPED WITH A BLOOD BANK, AN OPERATING THEATER AND A STAND-BY DOCTOR IN EACH OF HER L.G.As. None! I mean, let’s say you find yourself involved in an accident and in need of emergency medical attention which requires blood transfusion and/or surgery, there is no state in the Southeast that currently offers this service in each of her local govt where general hospitals are meant to be situated. None!
In one general hospital I visited, there was no toilet. What they used as toilets were just holes dug inside a structure that was meant to serve as the toilet. The foul smell even from afar would leave you in no doubt that using the so called toilet may most likely end in your going home with more infections than you came with. It took me reaching out and sending the embarrassing video to the appropriate authorities for a team to be sent to the hospital which started work on the toilet without further delay. But before my coming, patients who came to the hospitals were sent to that same pathetic excuse for a toilet to go get their urine and faeces samples for culture test. I was sent there too after I posed as a patient.
In some state L.G.As, the roof of some of the hospital rooms were licking water. And patients were left looking for container to collect the water right inside the hospital room. In some, there were no cleaners. Dust and dirt everywhere. Some of the doctors, nurses and other health workers in some of the hospitals had tales of lamentation to tell about the inhuman condition they are made to work under. In one instance, the only ‘Generator’ they were using refused to come alive. Repeated attempt to bring the Gen. back to life by repeatedly pulling the kickstarter rope ended in the rope cutting into two which ended all activities in the lab for that day
In one particular state I visited, almost all the general hospitals in the local govts look quite new and beautiful. Sadly, going inside, I was greeted with a situation that seemed worse than what obtained in the states with dilapidated hospital structures. In this particular state, there is hardly a doctor per general hospital even when there are meant to be more than 2 doctors per hospital. In majority of the southeast state teaching hospitals (not the general hospitals this time), it is the same pathetic story.
You that is reading this, I challenge you to visit that general hospital in your local govt or even your state teaching hospital today. Go to their toilets, stylishly peep into the rooms where patients are kept and talk to the health workers there as to the kind of equipment they have in the hospital. When you are done, then come back let’s hear your findings.
In terms of public primary schools, the situation is a crying shame. The complaints and lamentations from teachers, headmasters/headmistress and the children, some of which I captured on video are heart breaking. More than half of the schools I visited have no source of water, no public toilet, no security, no electricity, and almost all of them are complaining of not having enough teachers. In one of the schools, I took a video of the school kids passing through a very busy major express road – with neither a pedestrian bridge nor a bump to slow down vehicles – just to fetch water they are using in school. In more than half of the schools I visited, the kids use nearby bushes for toilets either because there is no toilet in their school or the existing toilets are more like death traps. My attempts to reason with officials of the Universal Basic Education Board in some states yielded little fruits. Some of the officials believed they are doing their best within the available resources.
Again, I challenge you that is reading me right about now to go beyond the beautiful shiny state capitals and go round your own local govt and visit some public schools there – both primary and secondary….. Interact with the teachers and school kids, visit their toilets. Then make your informed opinion.
As shameful as it is to admit, THERE IS NO SOUTHEAST STATE THAT IS BETTER GOVERNED THAN NIGERIA. None! Not in terms of quality education, decent health care, human capital development, agriculture, respect for the civic spaces, transparency and accountability in govt business etc. Not even in terms of infrastructure because the infrastructural development like good quality roads and flyover in some of our state capitals are also happening in the federal capital. And some of the physical infrastructures you see in AlaIgbo are shrouded in absolute lack of transparency and accountability in their execution.
And the tragedy is, none of the aforementioned indices of good governance has anything to do with the federal govt, the 1999 Constitution, the skewed structure of the country, Buhari or even the Exclusive List . These are all areas under the control of state govts. The bigger tragedy is, year in year out, billions of naira are budgeted for education, health, infrastructure, agriculture etc in each of our states. Federal allocations are given to each of our states …… as bad as Buhari is, he has never withheld any of our state allocation. Obasanjo didn’t. And certainly not Jonathan….. So what is the problem? What exactly are the health ministries in each of the states in AlaIgbo doing with their allocations?? WHERE DO THOSE BILLIONS IN OUR STATE BUDGETS DISAPPEAR TO?? Sadly, a very low level of civic consciousness amongst the southeast masses only means things will keep getting worse.
The only reason the Southeast is churning out positive developmental statistics is due to the ingenuity and NEVER-SAY-DIE spirit of the average Southeasterner who, it would seem, were born with a divine mandate to ‘Go To The World and Succeed No Matter The Odds’. It has nothing to do with their state govt because even those of them living outside their region are doing well despite some state-sponsored attempts to undermine their effort.
We owe it to ourselves to, within further delay, find a way of salvaging our ancestry from the numberless Savages savaging her. A betting man would bet that most of those Savages are actually from within. And as it happens, I am a betting man.
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