Delta community, NDDC in running battle over hospital

EVWRENI—TRIBESMEN of Executive Director, Projects, Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Sam Adjogbe, are embroiled in an intriguing bust

By Perez Brisibe

EVWRENI—TRIBESMEN of Executive Director, Projects, Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Sam Adjogbe, are embroiled in an intriguing bust.

NDDC

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up with the Commission over a hospital project at his hometown, Evwreni, an oil community in Ughelli Local Government Area, Delta State.

While the community had put the hospital into use since 2015, NDDC is insisting that it has not completed the project and anyone running the hospital was doing so illegally.

It has become a sickening example in parts of the state that NDDC execute projects in communities, but for unusual reason, defer the inauguration for years to the consternation of beneficiaries.

As with citizens of Bomadi, Bomadi Local Government Area of the state, who got angry over the delay in inaugurating an ultra modern Motor Park and Market Stalls project three years after completion, and  took over the facility last year, so it is with the  people of Evwreni.

They are livid with the Commission over its purported antics in formally handing over the project to the Delta State Government for the intended purpose of healthcare delivery to the people.

While the Bomadi Local Government chair personally led the people in taking over the facility, the lawmaker representing the area in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Samuel Mariere supervised the Evwreni revolt.

Mariere facilitates take-off

Residents of the community and surrounding towns in Patani and Isoko South Local Government were already using the hospital, but NDDC maintained that the project was yet to be completed.

NDV learned that Evwreni villagers were unhappy that despite the strategic position of Adjogbe on the board of the interventionist agency, officials still chose to hinder proper commencement of operations, depriving them of medical services.

It was following the disenchantment that the member representing the area in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Samuel Mariere employed medical and administrative staff to run the hospital for the benefit of the people.

NDV discovered when it visited the hospital that it has all the necessary departments of a full-fledged general hospital with administrative and medical staff, including a medical doctor who stays at the doctor’s quarters and oversees the daily running of the hospital. However, the hospital overgrown by weeds, looked unkempt.

 …couldn’t cope with wage bills

The medical doctor in charge of the hospital, Dr Robert Atuenya in company of the Health Record Management Officer, Uyoh Oghenejabor, said the hospital began operation on February 4, 2015 with 56 workers, adding that the number has drastically reduced because of inability to pay the workers.

“In February 2015, we were contacted that the member representing Ughelli I in the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Samuel Mariere want to commence operation of the hospital and that he needs a doctor and other medical personnel to run the place until it is formally handed over to the Delta State Government.

“Unfortunately, he was only able to pay us for just two months and stopped, claiming that he was having challenges. However, he came back in 2017 and told us that he will see what he can do by clearing the salary backlog.

“Regrettably again, in September of 2017, he insisted that he will no longer be able to cater for the running of the hospital and that whoever wants to continue working, should continue until probably when the state government takes over the running of the facility.

“Since then, we have continued to run the hospital with the hope and expectation that the state government would one day do the needful and take over the running of the hospital. But for now, we would say the staff of the hospital work here for free like a voluntary service.”

Gov Okowa wades in 

On efforts by the state government to take over the operation of the hospital, Dr. Atuenya said: “Few weeks before the 2019 general elections, I sent an SMS to the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa explaining the situation of the hospital and our challenges. He called me and promised to send a medical doctor to come and investigate and get situation report of the hospital.

“True to his words, he sent one Dr. Anibor from the Ministry of Health, Asaba, who came to do an assessment of the facility. Meanwhile, previous Health Commissioners, including Dr. Nicholas Azinge were here about three times with officials from the NDDC to inspect the hospital.

“But the last person from the government that came sometime this year is Dr. Anibor, who also told us that he had made his report and submitted same to the state government for implementation.

“I got back to him and he told me that they have met with the governor and that the hospital has been handed over to Society for Family Health, SFH to run. SFH officials on their part came for inspection and confirmed that the facility has all the requirements of a general hospital for takeoff.

“They also said that they have written a letter to the NDDC for them to commission the place, unfortunately, according to them, on reaching the NDDC officials, they (NDDC) claimed that they were not informed when we started operation here and that we were operating illegally,” he said.

Nosy concern

Atuenya asserted: “At that point, the administration officer of the hospital brought the letter addressed to NDDC acknowledging that we are already working at the hospital. The SFH officials were surprised as to why NDDC should be taking such a position and giving conflicting information.”

He added: “Some days back, I also contacted the official from SFH in charge and he said they are yet to get any feedback from NDDC. So what is holding the place from commencing operation is NDDC not properly handing over the place to the state government.”

On how they have been able to run the hospital over the years without funding, he said, “We run the hospital by ourselves. If anything comes, we use it to maintain the hospital and share among ourselves.

“When we started, we had staff from Sapele and Warri, who work here but when payment was not coming regularly, they stopped working and this affected the patients’ traffic and instead of out rightly abandoning the facility, some of us stayed back to  avoid it being burgled. Our patients come from Isoko South, Patani and other surrounding communities.

Anyone operating there is doing so illegally—NDDC

Speaking on the delay in the handing over of the hospital to the Delta State Government, NDDC EDP, Mr. Adjogbe, stated that anyone who claims to be working in the hospital as well as running the facility on behalf of the community was doing so illegally as the project was still under construction.

Adjogbe speaking through his media aide, Ovo Itefue, said: “The hospital is still under construction and NDDC has not handed it over officially to anybody, but we hear complaints of workers not being paid among others.

“Whoever is operating the hospital there is doing so on his personal rapport and that is illegal to say the least. Moves are ongoing to hand it over to the beneficiary, which is the community and the Delta State government in particular. So, whoever is running the place based on any form of arrangement is operating illegally as NDDC has not completed the project,” he stated.

He did not, however, say when last NDDC carried out construction work in the hospital.

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