“Let there be peace again in Ibaji,” “Silence is a crime,” “Make Ibaji Great Again”, and “We must fight for our rights” were the words of Kogi youths under the aegis of the Ibaji Progressive Youth Foundation during a protest held in December, last year, as they called on the State Government to come to their aid.
What informed the protest?
The youths while addressing newsmen on the reason for the protest, lamented that Ibaji Local Government Area, which has 10 wards, has only one government hospital, the Comprehensive Health Centre, Edega, which is currently in a state of decrepit.
The Chairman of the forum, Comrade Apeh Kelvin, while speaking with newsmen, said, “We want the government of the state and of the federation to see what we are passing through here. We want our members in the National Assembly and the state House of Assembly to take this up and cause a positive change.
“The recent LGA election in our area was a fraud. I am standing behind the LGA National Electoral Commission office. It has been down for many years due to bad governance.
“The only government hospital in our area is a very big building. The hospital is functioning but no doctors. They accept patients with only nurses. There is no bed to accept the patients. They use floor mats in some parts of the facility.”
Kogi State Comprehensive Health Centre, Edega
Looking at its dilapidated edifice, it saddens one’s heart to see how the 15-year-old State Comprehensive Health Centre, Edega has become shadow of itself due to poor maintenance and bad leadership over the years.
The male and female wards at the Kogi State Comprehensive Health Centre, Edega, Ibaji Local Government Area, are presently empty and badly used, due to a barrage of problems that has faced the hospital for years.
Some residents who spoke to newsmen recently, confirmed that the Health Centre lacks adequate staff and as such, there is no professional to attend to patients when the need arises.
Apart from the absence of doctors, a visit to the Kogi State Comprehensive Health Centre reveals more sordid conditions the facility is currently in – a situation which the hospital nurses, other workers and residents described as horrible.
How snakes, mosquitos chase patients from the hospital
The general perception among the workers was that Edega Comprehensive Health Centre, which was established in 2006 and said to have even been upgraded to a General Hospital four years ago, paints a perfect picture of the nonchalant governance style and abysmal health management in Kogi State.
A worker in the hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, told journalists how snakes, mosquitoes and lack of basic amenities had forced people to abandon the hospital.
Her words, “We now have a few patients coming here. Some of them still came two days ago. Throughout the day, there is no electricity. We experience 24 hours of darkness here. When the evening comes, we make use of torches and the Hausa light. So, the fans and other electrical appliances you see here are not working.
“We have only four nurses. We do not have a doctor. Snakes usually come into the hospital. Big snakes have entered the wards and we had to come together to find ways to kill them. We killed one in December 2020. It was even around Christmas time. We have killed another one this January, just in front of the wards.
“When the snake came in December, some patients were inside the ward and they all ran out, including the nurses.”
A resident in the area who spoke off the record, said she and other women in the area had stopped using the hospital due to the deteriorating facilities.
“The hospital has no water and electricity, and the place is not accommodating at all. The rooms are not clean. But I have used the hospital before. I went there two years ago. I went to treat malaria.
“It was December 2019 we last visited there. Pregnant women and we, nursing mothers, have stopped visiting the facility. But you know, most Ibaji people don’t have money to use private facilities. Our lives still depend on the general hospital,” she said.
Corroborating her account, another resident who identified himself as Acholo Omayor recounted his first experience at the hospital.
“My mum was almost admitted five years ago at that clinic but due to the poor state of medical facility, we had to refer her to a private clinic,” he told this reporter during WhatsApp conversation.
The role of the govt
It is in the onus of the Yahaya Bello-led administration to look into this issue at stake critically and also act accordingly because, the safety of every Kogite is as important as the well being of the state at large.
We cannot afford to be playing politics with the lives of the citizenry who during electioneering are in best position to decide who rules who and what becomes the destiny of our dear state. Ibaji should not be an exemption if truly we have a responsible government who meant well for his people and not the other way round.
On this note, it is recommended that a panel should be set up by the state government to visit the aforementioned place and in turn, improvise ways to meet the needs of the electorates appropriately. Act now!