James Sowole reports that the people of Ikaram Akoko community of Ondo State rolled out the drums when the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency awarded the Transparency and Accountability Award to a staff of a primary healthcare centre in the community.
Saturday, 24th January was a day of joy and honour for Alhaji Abdul-Ganiyu Adesina Salau, the entire sons and daughters of Ikaram -Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State and the workers of the Ikaram Basic Health Centre.
On this day, the headquarters of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), was relocated from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to the sleepy community of Ikaram Akoko as the Executive Director, Dr. Faisal Shuaibu led other top and management staff of the agency both at the headquarters and in the South West Zone for the official presentation of drugs and equipment for the Ikaram BasicHealth Centre.
The presentation of the drugs and equipment was in commemoration of the NPHCDA Transparency and Accountability Award 2017, won by Salau, a staff in the Finance and Account Department and who is equally an indigene of Ikaram-Akoko.
The award, which was a maiden edition, was known as 'Professor Umoru Shuaibu Award for Outstanding Performance', in recognition of the immense contributions of the renowned public health expert.
The joy of the recipient of the award and the entire members of the Ikaram community led by the Traditional Ruler, the Akala of Ikaram, Oba Andrew Momodu and his chiefs, knows no bound as they rolled out drums to receive the NPHCDA team, who came from Abuja and the South West zone.
One unique feature of the award, was that the recipient was not the only beneficiary but the entire community where the winner hailed from as a reward for the community's effort in raising a good child.
Therefore, apart from the personal benefits accrued to Salau, for his exemplary performance, drugs and hospital equipment were given for the use of the medical facility in the town.
Welcoming the guests on the occasion, the Medical Officer of Health for the Akoko North West Local Government, Dr. Abdulazeez Adewale, said the ceremony came at a well appreciable time the state governor was marking his first year in office saying that it had indeed added to the merriment of the celebration.
"We heartily rejoice with our dear brother for the honour and glory you earned for yourself and brought home to Ikaram Akoko, the local government and the state. You are indeed illustrious and worthy of emulation for you have done us proud," Adewale commended the award winner.
The medical officer said the local government currently has 25 primary healthcare facilities and diligent health workforce.
He said the local government was noted as foremost in the state in the provision of routine immunisation services, qualitative healthcare delivery and efficient health administration.
Adewale said all the activities of the local government health services had been attested to by the various awards and recognition won by the council.
"The local government was the best in routine immunisation in 2013, best PHC coordinator award in 2015, best local government in the provision of qualitative health services in 2016 (NSHIP/World Bank Award).
"All these were made possible by the dedicated health workforce, robust community participation/support and good governance from the state and local government," he said.
Adewale who said the local government had benefitted from several initiatives of the NPHCDA, lamented that the state was currently on suspension from NSHIP project due to some reasons that were already being addressed.
He appealed to the Executive Director of NPHCDA to assist in the lifting of the suspension saying the continuing suspension of the project in the state has adversely affected the provision of affordable, accessible and qualitative healthcare services to the people and the gain already recorded in the reduction of maternal mortality and improvement in childhood survival.
He said despite efforts of the local government at meeting the health needs of the people in the communities, they lacked the required staff needs.
"At the moment, there are 25 health facilities in the local government with just eight nurses/midwives and 34 CHOs and CHEWs in a local government area of 305,892 inhabitants.
"We are also incapacitated in providing adequate drugs to the facilities due to the meagre fund available to the local government areas in the country.
"We hereby call on the Executive Director to deploy more midwives on the MSS scheme, more drugs and equipment to our health facilities to help sustain the provision of quality maternal and child health services," he said.
Adewale said they shall make judicious use of the scanning of the drugs and equipment being donated.
The medical officer urged the Ondo State Government to emulate the NPHCDA by initiating similar awards at the state level to boost the morale of workers.
Also speaking, an elated traditional ruler of the town, the Akala of Ikaram, Oba Andrew Momodu, Osona 1, traced the journey of the basic health centre from the dispensary level to the maternity centre before it got to its current status.
Highlighting the contributions of the community to the development and operations of the health facility, the traditional ruler said the community had built two additional wards just as the community had also provided funds for Drugs Revolving Fund (DRF) for the past 20 years.
Momodu said three indigenes of the community, the former Minister of Defence, Mr. Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Babatunde Adejumo and Dr. Williams, had been of tremendous help to the community's basic health centre in so many ways.
According to him, Kayode donated Toyota Hillux Van to the centre, he facilitated the conversion of the centre to an annex of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo and payment of doctors and other community recruited staff salary up till date.
The traditional ruler said Babatunde Adejumo personally funded the connection of the health facility to the national grid and also donated a standard power generator for the centre.
He added that members of the community had at various times provided beds for the wards.
The traditional ruler also stated that Mrs. Williams has been organising medical outreach every year in order to help improve the health standard and to reduce premature death in the community.
He said the community had provided a hand dug borehole while the defunct Millennium Village Project provided a motorised borehole just as the community provided an ultra sound scanning machine that is still functional for the health centre.
While stating that the community had also intervened to improve the laboratory calling on the NPHCDA to provide an ex-ray machine to increase the capacity of the centre to handle more cases.
The monarch said with the support the community had been providing, it is high time that the centre is upgraded to a Comprehensive Health Centre by the state government.
Momodu commended the NPHCDA under the leadership of the current Executive Director for the initiative to reward hard work, commitment and transparency of one of the workers who is an indigene of Ikaram Akoko and for the maiden edition of the award.
While saying it is not all organisations that reward good works but what the NPHCDA had done would serve as morale booster to other workers.
"We are proud that Salau had brought honour not only to himself and his family, but also to the Ikaram community and this had shown the kind of upbringing the sons and daughters of the community went through.
"We are happy that the man had not brought shame to us in Ikaram, we are celebrating him and this shall serve as an encouragement to other indigenes of the state wherever they are.
"This is a great honour. It is not easy. Winning an award is one thing, presenting an award is another thing but the most unique aspect of the award is that it is brought down to the winner community. We appreciate you and the NPHCDA," he said.
He therefore called on government and organisations to recognise those who had done well right in their communities while those who did bad should also be punished in their communities to make people inculcate good behavioural attitude in their children right from the youthful age.
In appreciation of the executive director, a chieftaincy title of Otun Basegun of Ikaram was conferred on him.
In his remarks before presenting the award and inaugurating the drugs and equipment, the NPHCDA Executive Director, said the award was in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration commitment to provide good and qualitative healthcare for everyone irrespective of where they are located.
He said the award presentation was brought to the recipient community as a mark of honour for his maiden family and the entire people of the community that produced him.
"It is not only about money. Money cannot buy what Salau has brought to his community. The honour is not only for the recipient but for him, his children and the community.
"The hard work and transparency that the man had demonstrated was what he learnt not only from his parents but also from the community. Only one person cannot raise a child. We are here to make a statement.
"The presence of the traditional rulers and the people of Ikaram, men and women showed that the people also believed in hard work and transparency.
"This is in line with the anti-corruption drive of President Muhammadu Buhari. If you are saying the folks should not line their pockets with public funds, then how do we motivate them?"
The Executive Director stressed that outstanding public servants must be motivated by the work that they do, adding that "when you are holding people accountable, it is not just about sanctioning them but also about how do you reward them.
"There is no better way to reward them than to bring them back to their communities by saying thank you to their traditional and religious leaders, relatives for doing an incredible job by raising such individuals; like what we are doing here today.
"It takes a whole village to raise a good child. If you have an adult that is doing well, it is because his/her community has raised him/her well,
taught him/her the right thing and Mr. Salau has been an exceptional staff.
"He has been an epitome of honesty, the anti-corruption drive of Mr. President and we are here to say to his community that he has been an outstanding and amazing staff of NPHCDA. We are also donating drugs and equipment for the people, this is what they said we should do for them as recognition of what Salau has done.
"So, apart from coming here to celebrate Mr. Salau and say thank you to the community, we are also using the donation to improve the quality of primary healthcare in the community," he said.