By Blessing Oseghale
Fewer things have left me as bewildered as the statement sent to me via WhatsApp yesterday that was purportedly issued by Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In this statement, he offered support and encouragement to frontline health workers and applauded their contributions to the fight against COVID-19.
While these heroes of our time deserve more than the accolades that they are receiving for the personal sacrifices they are making during this unprecedented global health crisis, the effrontery of this self-acclaimed “comrade” left me completely aghast.
As the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of one of the most vibrant public hospitals in Edo State in the early 1990s, I observed in utter dismay the profound dereliction of duty that led to the complete collapse of Edo State’s health care system during the eight years this man reigned in office.
As with everything during his regime, this fellow ensured that politics and politicians recklessly plundered the state’s treasury, leaving nothing for healthcare. Everything was a contract to be shared. Politicians and their lowliest lackey’s became overnight billionaires.
Record for record, Oshiomhole should hide his head in deep shame. If the COVID-19 crisis has revealed anything, it is the fact that this self-acclaimed “general of the people” completely neglected health care in Edo State.
Beginning with the multi-billion-naira Central Hospital scam that he used as political patronage, no human being exemplifies shameless, wilful corruption like this man. Primary health centres were commissioned for refurbishment, but no single one was completed. In eight years, none were built!
In saner climes, this man would be facing the gallows for deliberate crimes against humanity – allowing people to die every day, while he did absolutely nothing to improve healthcare, despite the wealth of resources available to him at a time when oil was trading at more than $100 per barrel.
As Nigerians, have we so lost our ability to think, that we regard this kind of person as worthy enough for promotion? If the leading elite in APC have, this madness certainly does not extend to “we the people”.
In his political posturing, he called frontline workers his “comrades”. My question is- what did this man do for his “comrades” when he got the chance to transform their working conditions and improve their welfare? More importantly, as the leader of the National Party, APC, what exactly has he done for them during these most trying times? What have his tangible contributions been to these “comrades”, beyond spewing garbage on the pages of newspapers?
History is replete with numerous examples of how health workers were totally demotivated at all levels, with many being impoverished and virtually begging this man for their due wages.
To get his attention, we embarked on strike upon strike. His response was to dismiss our legitimate concerns as blackmail and threatened to sack “errant health workers”. Indeed, he made good on his threat; In 2012 alone, more than 1,200 health workers were unceremoniously sacked for daring to protest against this man and his pretend-khaki suit.
Many of us lost our jobs, a few lost their lives simply for demanding better working conditions. This is the man who now wants to applaud the few health workers that remain in the state? Balderdash.
For right thinking sons and daughters of Edo who are witnessing this individual try to reinvent his records, I ask- WHAT IS OSHIOMHOLE’S LEGACY IN HEALTHCARE IN EDO STATE? What exactly did he do and where is the evidence? You can fool some of the people sometimes, but you cannot fool ALL of the people all of the time.
One wonders why President Buhari in all his posturing about anti-corruption actively supports this man. The answer may be because in Mr. President’s estimation, only Buhari’s antagonists are corrupt. EFCC is only for those who disagree with the administration. Once you are in APC, as Oshiomhole himself once publicly proclaimed, your corrupt deeds are par for the course.
As for those of us in Edo State, we are much wiser now. By Oshiomhole’s most recent actions, we know exactly who he is: an enemy of the people and the foremost enemy of Edo State. Consequently, he should go and bury his head in the deepest ends of the alimentary canal through which solid waste matter leaves the body of the handful politicians he empowered with the commonwealth of the people, to the detriment of the masses of Edo State.
Prof. Blessing Emmanuel Oseghale, a former CMD sent this piece from Benin