Nigerians have expressed their disappointments over the continuous abandonment of the multi-billion naira ultra-modern Cardiac and Renal Centre at Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos.
Commissioned by the then governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, on March 18, 2015, the centre was established to address all critical non communicable diseases across the country.
However, a visit by newsmen last Wednesday, to the Renal Centre, showed how weeds, reptiles and other animals have encroached upon the property.
Funded by tax payers’ money, the apparent abandonment of the facility by the Lagos State Government has become a thorn in the flesh of Nigerians.
The center, which was built at the cost of N5.6 billion, and remains one of the many legacies of the former Lagos State Governor, now Minister of Works and Housing, Fashola has fallen into deliberate ruins.
According to a member of the cleaning staff who pleaded anonymity, the facility has been under lock for a long time. “It seems like they have forgotten that the place is there. Nobody goes there. Maybe they will open it soon since people are coming to ask for the place,” she said in local parlance.
Another bike rider whom our reporter met at the entrance to the hospital explained that he is sure that the equipment in the place has been stolen. The bike rider gave his name simply as Emmanuel and said, “You know Nigerians like free things. And that place that nobody is monitoring, people would have taken all the machine and mattresses away. Government just likes to waste money. Sometimes, people will come to the hospital and they will say there is no bed. If they open that place and use it as an annex, will anyone complain?”
In a chat with one of the doctors, who also pleaded anonymity, the case of abandonment of the multibillion care centre seems to have certain political undertone.
His words: “I am sorry this is one of the most wasteful countries I ever heard of in the universe. Can you imagine the huge amount of money that has been buried here? Look at how the place has been deserted, yet, people are dying every day of kidney complication and the rest. I overheard that Ambode government did not want to continue what Fashola started for obvious reasons. Must this difference be at the expense of lives of those that voted for them? Well, let us see whether Sanwo-Olu will do some thing or not on this edifice. We have been raped as a nation.”
When the Lagos State House of Assembly in July this year tasked the standing committee on health to probe into the immediate and remote causes of the challenges facing the state’s renal facility, the acting chairman of the committee on health, Akeem Sokunle said that the findings of his committee’s recent tour of the state’s health facilities confirmed the sordid state of the centre.
He said; “We observed that there is a shortage of manpower, non-functioning ambulances, insecurity, unequipped laboratories, and more importantly, abandonment of multi-billion naira cardio-renal facility.”
He confirmed that most of the equipment in the hospital is not working and he got a report that the catheterisation machines only worked for two weeks before the facility packed up. “Also, most of the sensitive equipment is obsolete.”
Others like Hon. Tunde Buraimoh and Hon. Sanai Agunbiade corroborated the report, which made the committee chairman moved a motion that the House gives his committee the power to invite concerned officials of the health ministry to also appear before it to clarify issues bothering on the N5.6 billion facility.
In his ruling, the speaker of the parliament, Mudashiru Obasa, had directed that the clerk of the house, Azeez Sanni, to write the ministry and other concerned stakeholders in the matter, to appear before the committee.
Newsmen reached out to Hon. Akeem Sokunle on his findings and he revealed that the committee had indeed done its duty by carrying out an investigation. He, however, stated that while he is not at liberty to discuss the findings of the investigation, a report will be presented to the Lagos House of Assembly in the coming week, after which it would be made public.
It would be recalled that the facility at inception was handed over to a concessionaire – Renescor Health LLP. Unfortunately, months down the line, reports state that the body pulled out of the management deal prematurely on June 8, 2016.
On his part at the commissioning ceremony, Fashola, said that the project was borne out of his commitment to serve the state.
Fashola said, “We open the Gbagada Cardiac and Renal Centre to serve our people as promised.”
Newsmen further gathered that the case of mismanagement and neglect is so severe that the Lagos State House of Assembly instituted a committee specifically to look into the situation in July 2019.
While it was alleged that an infighting, which involved some key stakeholders including, former Governor Fashola, and immediate past Governor Ambode and the promoter of the contractor – Deux Project Limited – Tunji Olowolafe, among others, further compounded the messy situation.
A source at the state’s ministry of health who preferred anonymity traced the beginning of complications in deal to 2008 when the contract was awarded to Deux Project Limited, saying, there was no evidence of competitive bidding processes.
According to the source, the procurement act had not been fully domesticated in the state then.