By now it is no longer news that Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio was involved in an accident, the Governor is said to require medical attention and has since been flown abroad for the same.
While ideally no one should celebrate another person’s misfortune, social media has been abuzz with a sense of karmic justice for the former governor and strong man; macabre in its nature, it is an understandable vent for people tired of seeing officials retire to a comfortable life despite multiple accusations of graft and abuse of office.
No doubt the blogosphere will be kept busy for a few days, however if we can all pause from our collective schadenfreude and address another issue; Akpabio who is not one to shy away from listing his numerous achievements while in office has been flown abroad for treatment.
Medical tourism isn’t new and with Nigerian politicians it is preferred, however one of the achievements Akpabio summons readily is the N30 billion hospital he commissioned before leaving office in May, naturally it begs the question why the former Governor would choose to leave that facility behind and search for answers to what ails him abroad.
The answer isn’t too far away from the source, in fact it lies within Akwa Ibom itself in Eket; Eket hosts the only psychiatric hospital in the state which had been abandoned by the former administration. An administration that to its credit pushed itself in terms of infrastructural development, highways, stadium, and resorts, among others can be said to have marginalized areas that were not seen as its strongholds.
Reportedly, the road linking the oil rich city to the rest of the State is still single lane and pothole ridden; the inter-city roads in Eket are also said to be dilapidated. The hospital in Eket is said to have no beds with patients sleeping on mats. Additionally hygiene is poor and patients are tasked to use pit latrine toilets.
The casual observer may wonder what this has to do with the mega-hospital in Uyo, well it simply speaks to a culture of grandstanding by administrators and politicians. To be sure this isn’t exclusive to Akpabio, there are many white elephant projects that only serve as space for newspaper headlines and website banners.
If the administration of the former governor was sincere about healthcare delivery to all its inhabitants and indigenes then it would have seen to it that all its medical institutions were standard before pouring N30billion into the medical facility in Uyo.
Additionally, if the said facility were as modern and able as the former governor touted then he should be there in full glare of his people receiving treatment. Beyond Akpabio there is a culture to be addressed, creating smokescreens out of ostensible projects to divert public funds or rewards cronies.
Akpabio has long been billed as something of a philanthropist, a quality that garnered him the moniker of Big Daddy; and while that moniker is more at home in a Tyler Perry Comedy, it would seem by some measure that he did leave a number of things he could point to as achievements, sadly universal healthcare was not one of them. It is not a stretch to imagine that the ultra-modern health facility is now a shadow of its supposed self and knowing this the governor decided to hightail it to London.
Big Daddy still cuts a big shadow across the state, he is a central figure in the election tribunal petitioned by the APC candidate Umana Umana; one would like to wish the former governor a speedy recovery, but it is hard not to imagine that it wasn’t the prayers and in some cases curses of people in forgotten places like Eket that did him in. It may be wiser to wish the former governor a safe journey back home.
The pictures below are that of the only psychiatric hospital in Akwa Ibom State, located at Eket. The hospital has no beds, patients sleep on MATS, and use pit latrine toilet. The premises of the hospital is unkempt and looks nothing like a hospital.