Abstract: Located in the South West state of Ekiti are two health facilities built with millions of public funds but never put to use by residents.
The bush, as many people would conceive, accommodates anything – including its enemies. From its roots, it never fails to rise to its duties. However, in the nearby countryside, the bush is fond of protecting public funds.
Located in the South West state of Ekiti are two health facilities built with millions of public funds but never put to use by residents. These health facilities are located in Igbara Odo, a community of over 70 thousand people in Ekiti South West Local Government of Ekiti State.
In 2017, Segun Adekola, the then lawmaker representing Ekiti South West/Ikere/Orun/Ise constituency at the House of Representatives, nominated the construction of two maternity healthcare centres in Igbara Odo. One is located along Ikogosi road and the other is located along Oke-Gbala, in Igbara Odo.
In 2019, he facilitated the completion of the projects under the different titles, “Equipping Fencing and Landscaping of Maternity Healthcare Centre at Ikogosi Road in Igbara Odo Ekiti” and “Equipping, Fencing and Landscaping of Maternity Healthcare Centre at Oke-Gbala in Igbara-Odo.”
While the former, which cost N55,777,000 was placed under the supervision of the Nigeria Press Council, the latter, supervised by the National Agency for The Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), had a N60 million budget.
Gold In The Bush
When UDEME first visited Igbara Odo town in March 2022, residents said there was no government health facility bearing a “maternity healthcare centre” in the whole of the town.
A commercial motorcyclist called Tunde by his colleagues, told this reporter there are only three government health facilities in the environment. This was also confirmed by Ajakaye Adeola, a nurse working at one of these health facilities named “Model Healthcare Hospital” along Ikogosi Road. She listed the Basic Health Centre located in the heart of Igbara Odo and Comprehensive Health Centre along Ogotun road as the other two.
However, as this reporter was about to leave the town he met another commercial motorcyclist, Olumide, who mentioned the existence of a particular abandoned structure along the road that leads to Ikogosi. It was a twenty minutes ride from the town.
Sitting inside the bush was a fenced structure with yellow and green paint. It was difficult to identify the building type behind its locked black gate because of the bushes that were competing with the perimeter fencing. However, the painting was new.
During an attempt to see the inside of the fence, this reporter entered the bush and stepped on a plank. Assisted by Mr Olumide in lifting it up, it turned out to be the signage which carried details of the project but is now almost eaten up by termites. Written on it is “EQUIPPING FENCING AND LANDSCAPING OF MATERNITY HEALTHCARE CENTER.”
While checking through the fence, the interlocking used to beautify its ground could be seen as weeds forced their way up through it.
Mr Olumide told UDEME about another structure which has been in the bush for a long time. “It is along Igbara-Oke road,” he said. “And the journey would take about 25 minutes from here.”
Beside the tarred road that leads to Igbara-Oke, a blue-roofed building was seen, sitting on a fenced piece of land. Painted yellow, and secured with a black gate, the wall of the building has suffered breakages in the parts most visible. Other parts could not be seen. They were covered by bushes. It has never been used after construction and the bushes have not been cleared in a long while.
Although completed, these over N115 million naira projects have been locked up since 2019.
Completed But Abandoned
On a Saturday, UDEME spoke to Segun Adekola, the lawmaker who facilitated the project, via the telephone. When asked why the projects had been left without use, he claimed ignorance, saying the project was handled by his successor.
“In the first instance, I facilitated it. That’s my town. I facilitated it and it was done, completed and every other thing. In the other budget that I facilitated for equipping and fencing, unfortunately, I didn’t come back to handle it myself. Being the facilitator, I’m the one that put it in the budget, my predecessor (he meant successor) did not allow me to have access to it.
“For 2019, for equipment and all other things, he took over it and he handled it. In fact, all my 2019 projects, he took over them and handled them,” he said.
His successor, Yemi Adaramodu, speaking to UDEME said the projects have been completed and handed over to the local government authority.
“All the materials were kept in Oba’s palace so that they will not be stolen. They’re there including generators and other gadgets,” he said.
When asked for which materials were bought, he replied, “I said you should go to the kabiesi, ask. Generators are there, beddings are there, other things are there.”
“We Don’t Need The Facilities; We Don’t Fall Sick”
Again, UDEME visited Igbara-Odo town in April. But before going to the king’s palace, this reporter spoke to some members of the community about their challenges with accessing health care in the town. However, highlighting water scarcity as a major plight, they said that new healthcare centres are their least problem.
Michael Osunlola, a 67-year-old farmer who has not been to a hospital for the past three years told UDEME that he seldomly buys pain relief drugs at the pharmacy. “Most times, I get herbs from my farm and prepare it at home,” he added.
Abimbola Ajenifuja, a tailor, also sees no need for a new health centre since they have three already.
“The health centres we have are enough. What we need the most in Igbara Odo is modern water. Please, help us,” she told UDEME.
Like Mrs Ajenifuja, Muyiwa Bose and Yusuf Adeoye also spoke of water scarcity as the major problem in the community.
“Most times, I cross many streets before getting clean water to cook. It is not easy at all. Please, help us,” Mrs Bose lamented.
Other residents who spoke to UDEME corroborated this noting that they were not consulted on their needs before the facilities were sited.
Head of Tracka, a civic engagement organisation, Uadamen Ilevbaoje berated Nigerian lawmakers for their act of nominating projects without consultation.
“Not consulting the community members before nominating projects is a monumental waste of public funds. The people will still be faced with challenges. That is, taxpayers’ money has just gone down the drain. Most completed projects are abandoned because the people don’t take ownership. And the people don’t take ownership because they were not carried along,” he said advising lawmakers to go beyond their interests of only erecting structures.
At The Palace
Upon arrival, Edward Jayeola, the king of Igbara-Odo confirmed that the health equipment bought for the two health centres was kept at the palace. He said they were brought in 2019 and kept in the palace since then.
When asked for what was brought, he said he only identified “beds, two generators, about four air conditioners, BP machines, cartons of hand gloves, fans and iron stands” as others were in sealed cartons.
He said that the materials were delivered two times alongside documents which had the materials listed in them. Before showing this reporter where he kept the equipment, he complained of space shortage, saying he is tired of keeping them.
“Long time ago, some people also brought drugs and other things and kept them at the palace. After several years, they got spoiled and we had to distribute the remaining items to the small hospitals around. These items, although they don’t contain drugs, are already taking too long in the palace. I am tired of keeping them. I need the space for other things,” he complained.
When asked about the abandoned facilities, the king said: “We don’t need the two hospitals we were given, to be honest. We have three already that need more staff and better equipment. Yet, they built two more. All these things they brought should have been distributed to those places.”
Mentioning that there is another health facility which has been abandoned for over ten years in Igbara-Odo, the king said he would have recommended that the government representatives complete that first.
Later, the King searched through bundles of documents but could not find the document which detailed the list of items delivered. After futile efforts, he promised to send a snapshot of it to this reporter, once he finds it. However, at the time of publishing this report, he is yet to send the snapshot. When a call was put through to him later, he said he had not found it.
Ekiti Government Failed To Support
Kolade Amire, immediate past local government chairman of Ekiti South West Local Government, told UDEME that the projects were completed before his arrival.
Mr Amire assumed office in 2020 and left in January 2022. Upon resumption, he wrote a letter and made multiple visitations to demand personnel from the primary health agency of Ekiti state. Rather than success, his efforts were abortive as they failed to grant his quests.
“We even pleaded that if they could give us just one qualified nurse then we could employ auxiliaries that could be trained but all the same, they were unable to provide,” he recounted.
“We Want To Convert One To Police Station”
Mr Amire said that his administration resolved to consolidate the two, “especially the one along Ikogosi road so that the facility will not completely deteriorate. We were on that till my tenure expired as the chairman.”
He added that the Divisional Police of Ekiti had approached him to ask if they could use the building along Igbara-Oke as a police station. “We were on that till my tenure elapsed,” he said, again.
“What I will do now, I’m going to have an audience with the Kabiesi and the present LCDA chairman so that they can start using one. Maybe the community will have to raise money to employ personnel so that the equipment will not rot away.”
On the other hand, the new chairman of Igbara Odo LCDA, Abiodun Ayodeji, when contacted said that he knows nothing about the facilities. He said that he resumed office in January 2022, and was not briefed about the existence of the health centres.
Tags: Ekiti State, Ekiti South West, Health Centres, Zonal Intervention Projects
Inside UNILAG: A Tale of Rising Fees, Sinking Hopes, Caught in a Web of Dreams
While in 2021, 33% of Nigeria’s population was unemployed, World Bank projections reveal that the onset of 2022 pushed an…
Campus Reporter, CJID, Trains 52 UDUS Students On Evidence-based Reporting
Campus Reporter, a journalism project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), trained 52 Campus Journalists and Mass…