Nigeria: How Political Difference Denied Bauchi Communities Access to Healthcare

Bauchi — Political feud between former Bauchi State governor Mohammed Abubakar and former Speaker, House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, has stalled the use of completed health centres in some communities in the state.

North East Trust correspondent reports that the discovery came following the visit of an assessment team of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), which was in the state to assess the constituency projects initiated during the last National Assembly.

The team, which visited some of the projects in Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Borogo, which formed the constituency, discovered that some of the health centres were under lock and key even though they were completed years ago.

The team also discovered that some of the projects were shoddily executed while some of the equipment supplied is sub-standard.

In some instance, it was alleged that the former governor threatened to sack anybody who opened the health centers or worked in them.

When the team visited the health centre at Marti Bakin Kogi and Yaban Kufai community in Tafawa Balewa local government area, the people said the centre, which was completed since 2016 has remained under lock and key with overgrown grass taking over the compound.

Some of the residents, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the closure was as a result of the political disagreement between the former governor and the former speaker.

"The governor ordered for the closure of our health center and we have been suffering since then. The nearest health centers from our community are about five kilometers either way.

"We either go to Dutsen Lawan health center which is located in Bogoro local government or we go to Yaban Kufai. It is even better for us to go to Dutsen Lawan now because the bridge on the river along Yaban Kufai road has collapsed and we are cut off,"one of them said.

An elder in the community, Silas Komo, said that the community had been 'cheated' for three years as the people had to run helter-skelter looking for medical attention anytime there was an emergencies.

"What we did was to use health personnel that are members of our community to set up a place in someone's house where people can be attended to, especially women and children. We have a health center which was not allowed to function because of politics and there is nothing we can do.

"The place was built by Dogara as constituency project but the governor, who was supposed to order for its opening and provide staff wanted it closed and nobody could do otherwise because there might be consequences," he said.

The ICPC team was eventually able to enter into the building and was conducted round by one Dauda Bako said to be the official incharge of the health facility.

It discovered hospital equipment packed in two rooms, some still unopened, while some the of furniture have been eaten by ants.

Bako said that, they have made several attempts to have the health center opened but were not successful.

At the neighbouring Yaban Kufai community, the ICPC team discovered that many sections were locked and the lone nurse attending to patients was only using the reception area.

Another cottage hospital, completed in 2018 at Bajar community of Lere District in Tafawa Balewa local government area, also suffered the same fate as it is under lock and key since its completion.

The hospital, which appeared to have just been completed, is in a good condition although some section of the ceiling has started caving in due to neglect while the surrounding is also overgrown by weeds.

It took the ICPC team about two hours to have access into the building as the keys to the various sections of the facility were in custody of different people.

Members of the community, told the team the government has failed to put the hospital to use forcing them to seek medical attention in neighbouring communities.

A resident of the community, Barde Adamu, who donated his farm for the building of the hospital, lamented that despite his sacrifice the community is yet to start benefitting from the project.

In his reaction the immediate former head of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Pharmacist Adamu Ibrahim Gamawa, said that some of the lapses were not deliberate.

He said that, although he could not rule out politics in the non-use of the facilities but sometimes it was the fault of the elected representatives and the contractors who failed to hand over the facilities to the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

"We cannot take over a health facility just like that. It has to be handed over to us to provide personnel and run the facility. That is the ideal process," he said.

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