The claim by Senator Francis Fadahunsi that the State of Osun received a certain N9 billion World Bank fund with nothing to show for it, is not only outlandish, but bogus. At best, the lawmaker representing Osun East, simply lied.
The first reaction was to ignore him. But coming from a lawmaker who prides himself as a distinguished member of a hallowed chamber that abhors misinformation and fake news, I am compelled to put the records straight.
Distinguished Senator, using current black market rate to convert a sum that was converted about two years ago by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at the prevailing exchange rate at the time smacks of mischief on your part.
First, there was no N9 bililon grant anywhere. What we have is a grant of $20 million from the World Bank, following our impressive performance under the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Result, which the CBN converted about two years ago, at the prevailing exchange rate in that year, which at best was N305. To show transparency and accountability, the said amount is domiciled with the CBN, and releases are made only when they satisfy World Bank procurement process.
The fund, which has always been domiciled with the CBN, is specifically meant to rehabilitate and revitalise our 332 Primary Healthcare Centres, PHCs, one per ward, across the State on the basis of the survey and audit carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Bank.
Of the 332 PHCs we set out to rehabilitate and revitalise, the administration, as at today, awarded 315, but 256 are ready and have been fully equipped and are up and running. In Fadahunsi’s Ijesa area alone, we have inaugurated 47 PHCs. Specifically, in Obokun Local Government Area, where the lawmaker comes from, five of the PHCs are up and running.
It will interest Sen. Fadahunsi and the reading public to know that apart from fixing the PHCs to standard, the State government is also fixing the major general hospitals in Osun. For instance, it is constructing a 120-bed ward and 30 units of Doctors’ quarters at Asubiaro Specialist Hospital, Osogbo, just as it has rehabilitated and revitalised the Ejigbo General Hospital, which today is equipped with state-of- the-art equipment. Additionally, the government has also rehabilitated and revitalised the General Hospital at Ifetedo. Apart from spending on infrastructure, we also cater for the welfare of our medical personnel.
In February, the governor approved the implementation of 100 percent payment of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for all health workers in the State, thereby putting an end to the eight-year agitation for salary increment by medical and health workers in the State.
Again, in the 2019 PHC Under One Roof assessment, carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health, Osun came first alongside Sokoto. Both States were adjudged the best for the provision of basic health care to their citizens. In Osun, we have invested about N630 million in our Health Insurance Scheme.
If Sen. Fadahunsi is not abreast of developments back home, he should ask to be properly briefed. It is the honourable thing to do rather than attempt to misinform the unsuspecting members of the public with lies and unverifiable tales.
One unique thing about the fund is that, apart from the fact that it is domiciled with the CBN, and is only released after due process is strictly completed, the entire project was examined and audited even before the funds were released by the World Bank. Therefore, it is not a slush fund. As I write, we are yet to exhaust the fund because the projects are ongoing and the fund is still with the CBN.
It is on record that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s decision to construct, renovate and revitalise 332 Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) at a go is unprecedented in the history of governance in the country. This fact can be verified.
Although this is a project that would have probably taken many leaders at least four years to complete, Governor Oyetola, in just three days, inaugurated 25 PHCs out of the 175 that were completed early last year.
So far, no government has done what Osun has done, particularly in the health sector. Our intervention in the health sector has attracted commendation from the US government as well. In March this year, the US Consul General, Ms. Claire Pierangelo, said: “In particular, l want to compliment you and your team on the efforts to revitalise the health sector. We are aware that Osun is one of the best states in the implementation of Health Insurance Scheme. We must congratulate the state on this feat particularly for being the model for a programme around the country.”
Thank God for Mr. Oyetola’s foresight. Had the State not invested in the health sector early enough the way it did, the Covid-19 pandemic would have caught us napping. The Ejigbo General Hospital came in handy when we quarantined the 127 Ivory Coast returnees in the wake of the pandemic.
In our battle to contain the pandemic, we have fully equipped our Intensive Care Unit, ICU, with seven ventilators, among others. In fact, we have yet to receive any financial support from anywhere since the pandemic broke out in March till date. Yet, the State government has never been found wanting in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, we have successfully treated and discharged 121 patients.
We have equally successfully managed and discharged several Covid-19 patients who are advanced in age and those with underlying ailments, including cancer.
Also, we have successfully treated and discharged an 82-year old hypertensive patient from our medical facility. Only recently, our SSG, a septuagenarian, also survived the Covid-19 attack.
All these were made possible because the government was responsible enough to do the needful.
*Ismail Omipidan is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Oyetola.