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Who bought Garki General Hospital

Posted by By BASHIR UMAR, Abuja on 2008/05/03 | Views: 1844 |

Who bought Garki General Hospital

Even with the exit of once regarded as dreadful administration of minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, his reform programmes are still being despised as unacceptable by a cross-section of Abuja residents, not with the leasing out of the Garki General Hospital which has brought Muslim clerics and the FCT authorities currently at daggers-drawn.

Even with the exit of once regarded as dreadful administration of minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, his reform programmes are still being despised as unacceptable by a cross-section of Abuja residents, not with the leasing out of the Garki General Hospital which has brought Muslim clerics and the FCT authorities currently at daggers-drawn.

The story is that the hospital was renovated with N250 million of FCT money and the same FCT then turned round to sell the same hospital at about N100 million to persons believed to be families and friends of both the immediate past minister and his then boss, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo.
The hospital is also believed to be among the three over which the Senate was recently petitioned as having been sold along with the popular Eagle Square by the last administration in the FCT.

SATURDAY SUN findings revealed that both parties have been trading uncomplimentary statements against each other without a sign of compromise, because while several chief Imams at various sermons of Juma’at mosques in Abuja have condemned in strong terms the sale of public health institutions, describing the measure as ”sadistic and unpatriotic against the common man”, the FCDA argues that it has only ‘leased out on concession’ and not ‘sold’ Garki Hospital.

Evangelical in their tone, the Muslim clerics who spoke to SATURDAY SUN through the chief Imam of Area Eleven mosque, Ustaz Sufyanu Abdullahi, stated firmly that “any leadership that is unmindful of the lot of common man will be doomed in this life and in the hereafter”. Meanwhile, the Health Secretary of the FCT, Dr. Auwalu Anwar, in his response, condemned the Imams as “liars, illiterates and selfish men who don’t deserve to be listened to or be followed”.

Quoting the Holy Quran and teachings of Prophet Muhammad copiously, the Secretary of Health told the clerics “Allah says: ask those who are versed if you are ignorant. And the Prophet of Allah says: the faithful are supposed to say good things or keep quiet”.

Also speaking to SATURDAY SUN inside the contentious Garki Hospital, the alleged ‘buyer’, Dr. Ibrahim Wada, swore to Allah that he did not buy the hospital but got it on “lease management for 15 years’, stressing: “If what these people are accusing me of is true, that I bought Garki Hospital from El-Rufai, may the lightening strike and kill me”. He took this reporter round the hospital wards where modern medical facilities are put in place.

Dr. Wada also denied high charges by the hospital as alleged by some doctors and the Imams, saying: “the hospital has been graded into ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ wings with each wing charging and rendering its services relative to their cost.

But SATURDAY SUN sources insisted: “Dr. I. Wada may just be a front in this scandalous transaction. Even if he has a share in the business, it is a smaller percentage compared to the Obasanjo family’s share, because in case you don’t know,… Obasanjo (first name of this female member of the former first family withheld by us) was the one who won the bidding through the arbitrary high-handedness of the then FCT Minister”, our source said.

Some doctors who volunteered to speak to SATURDAY SUN on condition of anonymity also revealed that with the placing of adverts on papers bidding of Wuse and Maitama Hospitals already done, “the same cabal are going to grab them (hospitals) because even during the bidding of Garki Hospital, there was nothing like due process, they (government officials and the Obasanjo buyer) just signed the agreement and it was done”.
Dr. Wada, however, said that he was out of the country when he was invited to come and negotiate the bidding, which he was ‘lucky’ to have won.

Meanwhile, the Senate and House of Representatives members representing the FCT are said to delve into the feud by writing to the Secretary in charge of Health, Dr. Auwalu Anwar, to intimate them on the terms, procedure and decision reached before ‘selling’ Garki Hospital and how it was bid and won.
Statistics of service units and rates at the hospital when it was run by government and now, in the possession of SATURDAY SUN, show that the hospital had prided itself with medical, surgical, gynecological, pharmaceutical, nursing and laboratory services rendered. It also had dental, x-ray, E.T.N Mortuary, laundry and maintenance units.

The hospital had provided 30 one-bedroom flats for its staff, comprising 18 nurses for female wards, 21 nurses for male wards, 18 nurses post natal, 18 for labour ward, 18 for pediatric ward and 12 for accident and emergency. Others were 14 nurses for neo-natal, 18 for theatre, 14 for general unit, 14 for patients, 4 for dental clinic and 5 for eye clinics.
There were three shifts for most of the above units because it was a 24-hour service arrangement.

The hospital had about 48 medical doctors in the year 2001, seven of them consultants, two gynecologists, one surgeon, two anesthetic and two ophthalmologists. There were also 16 pharmacists, covering 24 hours, 27 laboratory scientists and five x-ray staff available 24 hours a day. Non-medical staff comprised 10 from accounts, 8 from administration, 4 for mortuary and 32 ward attendants. There was an average of 650 out patients per day, those on admission were not charged for bed, while those who could not afford to pay, or on emergency, were treated on buying cards at N150 per adult and N100 per child.
In the new Garki Hospital, under lease, cards attract N500; consulting N500, while bed space per night for a room of eight people costs N1,500; for 4 people N3,000 per night, 2 beds N4,000 per night and for 1 bed space N8,500 per night all of which attract N10,000 deposit. Suite attracts N15,000 per night while V.I.P is charged N25,000 per night, just as charges for normal delivery is put at N15,000, as against N1,000 charged in General Hospitals.

SATURDAY SUN observed, however, that attendance is computerized and therefore, very prompt, the wards are kept regularly very neat, equipment are functional in every ward while there is a banking facility right within the hospital premises which is rather scantily populated.
Dr. Auwalu Anwar, former Secretary of Health FCDA, said, in his office: “The Federal Government has a policy on Public Private Partnership (PPP), which brings together public agencies into partnership with private agencies, organizations.

Through this PPP we have, and we are still getting, a lot of donations from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as UNICEF, World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO) and others that are subsidizing our services. We have Health System Development Projects (in FCT) in which we are going to phase II now being serviced by the World Bank. We have HIV/AIDS committee called National Action Committee against AIDS (NACA), which we call FACA in Abuja and they call it SACA in states. In the FACA, we get a lot of money from NGOs supporting our Health Development Project for which we earmarked about 50million US dollars.

The Garki Hospital is on concession not sale. What we understood is that there was a time, when there were a lot of labour unrest during which medical doctors, pharmacists and nurses equated themselves with people selling chewing gum and toilet papers or people who were sweeping factories in the nation. So there was a general strike in which they allowed people to die because they felt their own conscience and responsibility were first and foremost to an amorphous organization called union.

Patients were dying. We saw pregnant women wailing in pains. We saw infants inside incubators being left to die. And we felt that, at least, medical doctors, nurses and pharmacists should not be regarded as labourers who produce Goodie Goodie and confectionaries. We believe they are not like chewing-gum sellers or footballers, taxi drivers or even teachers. So after considering so many options, the best we captured was that health and life are universal and you cannot say the live of a Nigerian journalist is different from the life of Larry King of CNN who operates in America.

We believe that the health concerns in Nigeria are supposed to operate with a global perspective. We looked at so many countries, some of them wholly Muslims like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia , Indonesia and others and found out that there are institutions in which government did a noble job by building hospitals. They get the land, put their money and build the hospital and then concession (lease) the hospital to people interested in managing health facilities and regulating the charges.

In this way, even if there is national strike or whatever, we protect patients because these institutions are being managed by non-governmental organizations. It is as if you have four wives; two are in your house, one is in her house and one is in a house built by you but she is renting with agreement and every papers signed; even when you divorce them all, those that are in your house will automatically leave, but she that lives in her house would have no fear, so also the one who is your tenant because there is agreement.

So we felt we should not expose our patients to heartless, merciless and callous people that feel that human life can be held to ransom - because the idea was; let us leave patients to die and government attention will come. This the most irresponsible approach that a doctor or anybody working in medical institutions can take as an option to negotiate with government.

Footballers can refuse to go and play, you have a walk-over, fine, teachers can down tools, school kids will be there or go home while negotiation lasts, but doctors, nurses and pharmacists? We have no options. When they down tools people die. And so it is more important to device a means, no matter how imperfect the means are, to save a life than to succumb to sentiments and allow people to die. That was what informed us to start thinking of adopting what other people are dong elsewhere. So we said let us experiment with Garki District Hospital that was closed down for five or six years, since before El-Rufai came. So which is better? To invite people who would come and operate in a concessionary arrangement where we determine what they charge and they will be giving us money, even while the services are improved? or to leave the place dormant, closed down? Tell me which is better?
What I think people should be asking is why was the hospital closed years back.

I think we need enlightened people, the Imams and Pastors to go for the substance, instead of chasing shadows. In the Quran, Allah clearly stated: “Ask those who know if you don’t”. But I am not surprised, most of our Imams and others are inward looking – they are not forward looking and I will not be surprised if people start drumming in Khutbah (summon) and whatever, about this hospital. It was El-Rufai who came and voted a lot of money to rehabilitate and re-open it.

Professor Umaru Shehu who is the Chairman of the organization that is now managing the hospital, I believe, is more God-fearing than all the Imams, who gave these Khutba. So it is like a case of orphans whose parents have died but they have inherited a car that is grounded and getting depreciated and somebody comes to say let me put money to repair the car and give somebody to do taxi, but the orphans now say no, leave our car as it is. Does that sound sensible?

So get it from me, we have not sold the Garki Hospital and whoever says it is sold is a liar!!. If it is an Imam or whatever, he is not worth being followed, quote me anywhere. Because he has acted against the Quran. He has acted against God. He has acted against the instruction of Islam to investigate (before judgment) and there is a Hadith where Prophet Muhammad is saying: “whoever believes in God and the last day should speak something good or keep quiet.”
All this noise has gone against the Quran and Hadith. And I don’t even bother of what they are saying because I did my Masters degree (MA) on religious movement and Muslim leaders and I did my PhD on Maitatsine. So I know all the tactics of these people (Imams). I am not bothered because they have acted ignorantly.
Let me give you an example, because of our concern, the national strike by the NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) took place last week, all government institutions, but all hospitals in the FCT were open and not a single employee of the health sector went on strike. Why won’t people do Khutba on this for ensuring that people’s lives were saved?

We condemn sale of Garki General Hospital
But Ustaz Sufyan Abdullahi, Area II Mosque Chief Imam, is not impressed “We are in an era that any Nigerian should have a right to know what is happening in the government”, but the General Hospital Garki has been sold without consulting the ordinary people who are directly affected by the sale.

”This is a big social problem because selling that hospital has alienated and rejected common man”, he said, giving an instance: “registration card is now sold at N2500 instead of N250 when government was running the Garki hospital. As I am talking to you now, there is only one patient in the male ward of the Garki hospital, which shows that everybody has shunned it due to high charges. This hospital was well equipped by government, but now its structure is well renovated and decorated but not equipped. Can only a building serve as hospital? That place is now like a museum.

So with the sale of Garki hospital and others, where are the social services of the FCT Administration going to be derived from? It may interest you to know that Garki hospital now charges N3000 from in-patients per bed instead of N100 by government. That is for ordinary patient. The V.I.P are being charged N10000 per bed per night instead of N500 by government.

Right now, call the doctors and nurses employed by government to work for Garki hospital, they are nowhere to be found. The status of the hospital is lost, while the services rendered by these experienced medical staff are also lost. Again, the sale of the hospital is unconstitutional because it goes against the constitutional provision, which says any Nigerian citizen should enjoy primary health care.

Religiously speaking, any authority is expected to take care of the lives, health and property of the people, but the sale of Garki Hospital negated the responsibility of the FCT Administration in the health care facilities it should render to people.

What does FCT Administration want to show people by selling its hospital? Even if the authorities of FCT are thinking of the money it has used to renovate Garki hospital, the reasonable sums patients are charged could gradually make them to break even. We know that education and basic health care are responsibilities of government all over the world. Don’t we have a responsibility to the FCT government? Why is it that only FCT that sells its own hospitals? We are aware also of the impending sales of Wuse General Hospital and that of Maitama too.

We therefore call on President Umaru Yar’Adua to revert the sale of Garki General Hospital and stop the process of selling others because we consider the exercise as a social menace and a direct confrontation and deprivation to our human rights. We can never afford to be made slaves in our own country. Yar’Adua must mark this, the exercise is breeding apathy and hatred against this government, which already has legitimacy problem to grapple with. If they don’t stop this social distraction, it means that they tell the ordinary man to turn to the herbalists for his health care and to the local midwife. That shows that government does not exist or that it is useless when it allows this heinous and callous agenda to persist. This is similar with the sale of refineries and other strategic public institutions.

Government should help people to struggle against the nagging poverty in the land instead of aggravating the situation.
If Yar’Adua, as president, is a true advocate of transparency, democracy and human development, he should be seen to act swiftly against this selfish decision of the FCT Administration. We will support, hail and pray for him if he does that and we will not hesitate to do otherwise if he refuses to do anything about it.
And the moment the ordinary people start praying against the government or say ‘Allah Ya is’ (God is my protector) Allah will always respond.

Yar’Adua should try to leave a mark in history like the Azikiwes, the Awolowos, the Tafawa Balewas and the Ahmadu Bellos of blessed memory, who left behind them permanent legacies in the field of education, health, politics, cultural and socio-economic development of those they led in this country. We have hope in Yar’Adua for showing a sign of transparency by declaring his asset in public. But he should also know that it is more important to protect the property of he weak ones under a leader by the leader than the declaration Yar’Adua has made”.

Dr. Ibrahim Wada – Chief Medical
Director, Garki Hospital

I’ve been hearing about this issue that Garki Hospital was sold, sold, sold. I want to state categorically, that there was no question of sale of Garki hospital at all, at all and at all again! What is happening is a partnership between public and private sector in order to get the best quality health care to the populace of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and beyond.

Health is a priceless commodity. Unfortunately, look at public institutions around this country whether it is tertiary or secondary, general hospital or teaching hospital. I am sorry to say that they are not a pride of the nation. Yet, we are a nation that has 140 million (population) and every year, every month, our nationals are flying out of the country, going to London, Germany, India and South Africa for treatment. 140 million people and yet we don’t have where to treat ourselves in our country and take care of our citizens? Haba!
This arrangement is done worldwide: to merge private capital and intelligent ability with government investment to see that health care goes to as many people as possible. If we don’t do something, for the next 20, 30, 40 years, Nigeria will be in dire need of health care.

They talk about Dr. Wada, I was taught in Test-Tube baby (because this is my specialization) in England before I came to this country. Now we can say that in this country we have whatever is available in London in terms of solving problems of infertility patients who are crying everyday, looking for a way out, that it’s here at home. That is the issue at stake, not that Garki has been sold.

Garki hospital has not been sold and I don’t expect that they would want to sell it. Rather, there was a public–private investment and I was invited as a private partner (four of us not only one person) to bring in capital to upgrade the services to world class standard so that people can receive the best health care and I believe the same would apply to the Wuse hospital. For that, an advertisement has been placed for bidding and nobody is talking of selling.

You talk of advertisement, bidding and not selling?
No, bidding for a concession, if you like, ‘lease management’ so that it is just that every year we are paying FCDA some money as investors here and whatever happens, the government is still interested about it and this is happening world wide. It is just new in this country, but it is happening in England, America, Germany , France, Italy and nowhere in the world that this partnership cannot be found.

A common man can come here and get heath care. What we have done is that we have targeted plan. One, you must have a high-class medical care and that is not cheap. Therefore what we have developed in ‘A’ wing, which is like a general hospital so that anybody that walks in there can receive acute care because the price of life of a common man is the same as that of a minister. So once your life is threatened, nobody will ask you for money before you are treated.

That is number one, just like what obtains in my private hospital. For the last 10 years it has never charged one kobo for accident case for card because I know the problem at stake. Anybody who is an accident victim, we don’t even ask him to pay for card, and I have done that on my own for more than 10 years and we are not down yet.

So how can I come to Garki and then say the poor man cannot access health care easily? God forbid!
So wing ‘A’ will care for people at General hospital costs, and remember, even here, we don’t insist on payment before treatment. Wing ‘B’ is intermediate where people are conscious of time and want to be treated in haste and special care will pay more money.

Then wing ‘C’ is the V.I.P wing of Garki hospital, where, like in a private hospital, as you arrive, your consultant is waiting for you. And you know that special treatment cannot be given at ten naira. So people have a choice. While we need money to run this place 24 hours with electricity - you have to pay for diesel, pay the staff well so that they can be nice to patients and accommodating. That is the reason for classifying the hospital into wings.

To do the Garki hospital (assignment) is the least platform for me to help this country, if you don’t know. Somebody needs to do this so that our people don’t go to South Africa. They should save time and resources. But we have not bought it (hospital). We just put in our capital so that the treatment standard is upgraded to allow for any special case to come here and be accommodated – like the Test-Tube baby I told you of, and many other experts like surgeons, pediatricians, gynecologists etc

One step forward, two steps backwards
What are we doing in this country, that every time a correct step is taken, we want to take two steps back? That El-Rufai paved way for me to pay N20million? This is not a sale! It is a lease concession, which means by just being here every year, we must pay something.
After 15 years they have a chance to say get out. It is our property, it is our hospital. This is the truth. It is not sold ! It is not sold !!. It is not sold !!!. In fact, in case they don’t know, there is no plot number. The AGIS (Abuja Geographical Information System) process has not been done, because the place belongs to government, so what are you buying?
We provide the drugs and equipment, we employ the doctors and we are making sure that this flow of care is efficient and you are going to see it now.

For God’s sake, must Nigeria be kept at one level? Must she not move up? Is it not the same country that went into partnership with Virgin Atlantic to come and run her airlines in place of the defunct Nigeria Airways? Now that you have one of your own - tested and talented - who is sincere and yet, you say no, he must be blocked. I swear by Allah who created me, El-Rufai has never sat down with me to discuss anything about Garki hospital, if that happened, may lightening strike me and kill me.

Why does this country behave like this? Why? Every time we make a move, somebody who is not profit-oriented will make a move and say kill him. I am a Muslim and very strong in faith, and I swear to Allah, this is not about El-Rufai, I want to use my talent in Nigeria to bail us out and I am willing to sacrifice anything along that line. Why can’t people wait and see what we can do?

With the technology introduced in Garki hospital now, to register a patient is less than five minutes and to release your card is less than five minutes. Go to Wuse General Hospital, you take a whole day looking for your cards, yet you won’t see it. To see a doctor is another hell. Our operations here are through modern technology and we are computerized.

Talking about staff here, all of them came through their merit and I have not recommended one person for employment. They were interviewed and employed by both internal and external panel, strictly on merit, which we don’t compromise. Go round and see, are they foreigners, are they not Nigerians, are they not entitled to employment. Why don’t I go to my village and bring my kith and kin for the employment?

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown