Some traditional rulers and residents of Akure on Wednesday, protested against the plan by the Ondo State governor to convert the state's specialist hospital into an annex of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Ondo.
The protest, which was led by the paramount ruler of Akure kingdom, Deji of Akure, Olatoyinbo Aladelusi, was taken to the Ondo State House of Assembly where the protesters vowed to resist any attempt by the government to carry out its plan.
UNIMED was established by the last administration of Olusegun Mimiko, in his effort to provide first class medical sciences for citizens of Ondo State and other Nigerians seeking quality medical attention.
The Mimiko administration greatly subsidised health care services, but all subsidies had since been removed by the present administration, with patients now paying more for health services.
The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had proposed a bill that would make the Specialist Hospital and Mother and Child Hospitals in Akure and Ondo annexes of the UNIMED Teaching Hospital.
The bill, still undergoing legislative scrutiny, is yet to be passed.
But presenting the position of the Akure community at the House of Assembly, the Deji of Akure, who was represented by Segun Ojo, a university professor, rejected the move by the state government, fearing that the specialist hospital which is located in Akure would now be inferior and subservient to UNIMED.
While presenting the position of the Deji to the lawmakers, Mr Ojo, said that the hospital would be relegated to the background and would not have access to emergency services.
He said it was the concern of the Akure residents that all the surgeons and consultants in the Specialist Hospital would be relocated out of Akure once the bill seeking to make all the specialist hospitals in the state, including that of Akure, become extensions of the UNIMED Teaching Hospital.
He said the move to turn Akure Specialists Hospital to a subsidiary of the Teaching Hospital in Ondo, would be a retrogressive step.
Mr Ojo also submitted that Akure remained the only state government headquarters without a resident tertiary health institution.
"Making the hospital an annex of the UNIMED Hospital at Ondo would be unfair to the mass of the people because access to emergency services would be problematic, in that circumstance," he said.
"This is to say that making the State Hospital a subsidiary would take away the top level medical facilities, personnel, services and opportunities from the vast majority of Ondo State residents in Akure.
"Instead of making the Akure Specialist Hospital a subsidiary of the Teaching Hospital in Ondo, the people asked the government to establish a tertiary health facility that would take care of the people living in the state capital."
The Ondo State commissioner for information, Yemi Olowolabi, however, said the state government had tabled and settled the issue of the status of the Specialist Hospital in Akure with the traditional ruler of the town.
Mr Olowolabi said the people had no reason to express the fear as regards plans to make the Specialist Hospital in Akure a branch of UNIMED Teaching Hospital, as all the facilities and medical staff would increase and not decrease.
He argued that the Specialist Hospital in Akure belonged to the government and it could convert it to any good use for the benefit of the people of the town and the state in general.