Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hajia Turai Yar'Adua, Where Is Our N10bn?

It was in July 2009 that the former First Lady used her position to coerce prominent personalities to raise fund for the implementation of her proposed Cancer Centre in Abuja. As expected, the event recorded high turn out of private businessmen and public officers. According to media reports, a total of N10bn was realised at the event. The money raised include donations from state governors private businessmen. I recall that Gov. Babangida Aliyu made a staggering donation of N720million on behalf of the Governors forum. Messrs Aliko Dangote and Aminu Dantata also donated N1bn and N1.2bn respectively.

Fast forward to 2010. Umaru Yar’Adua is dead. Turai is back in her village in Katsina. Also, all seem to have gone quiet on the N10bn donation and proposed Cancer Centre. Up until now, there’s no single evidence to show the project has either commenced or was abandoned. No single block has been laid for the commencement of the project.

There’s also no evidence to suggest that the donors are yet to redeem their pledges. Even if some of the monies are yet to be received, I don’t think it’s too much to ask how much is in the coffers of the proposed Cancer Centre. The last time I checked, the only visible impact of the N10bn was the development of a project website (http://iccanigeria.org/index.htm). In fact the website has not been updated since June 2009.

The need for investment in the Nigerian health sector cannot be over emphasised. Without exaggeration, N10bn is a drop in the ocean, in terms of how much investment is required to turn the ailing health sector around. Millions of Nigerians die daily due to common illnesses. With specific regards to Cancer treatment, it is public knowledge that there are only four active radiotherapy centres in Nigeria, giving a ratio of one machine to about 30 million people, as against the recommended one per quarter million by the World Health Organisation.

The available spectrum of anti-cancer drugs is also very limited and such drugs are not readily available. Imaging facilities for staging patients with cancer, such as computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are difficult to come by, and when available the cost of such studies puts them out of reach of the average citizen.

It is therefore imperative that any proposal to improve and modernise the health sector are made through proper channels. For any public officer or their associates to seek donations (in form of charity) for a project that is bereft of any governance structure, smacks of criminality and it is tantamount to blatant abuse of office.

The proposal to build a Cancer centre in Abuja raises serious questions that are begging for answers. For instance, under whose ownership will the Cancer Centre be? Is it the Yar’Adua household or the Health Ministry? Who will manage the operation of the hospital? As a charity organisation, where is the ‘Board of Trustee’? And who are the members, if there’s one?

Having looked through the website of this sham Cancer Project, all I can see is a list of members of the Planning Committee, which is made up of former Federal Ministers. But now that these Ministers have been sacked, who is now responsible for planning the cancer centre? Has a new planning committee been constituted? Who are the members and how often do they meet?

Truth be told, N10bn is a lot of money in any currency. The coercion of public officers and private individuals by the first Lady for donations towards a supposed charity project itself is the height of corruption. And for her to have collected such monies without any commensurate development to show for it after almost 18 months beggars belief!

Unfortunately, ‘corruption’ has a different meaning in Nigerian context. When you talk of corruption, some folks believe it’s only when you blatantly deep your hands into the public treasury.. But I’m still searching for a jurisdiction outside Nigeria, where a first lady will collect money from donors, under the guise of charity, but refuse to undertake such a project. The question of whether it’s government money or not, is totally irrelevant. It’s any different from the Red Cross asking for donations on behalf of Haiti earthquake victims but siphoning such funds into private pockets.

If Hajia Turai was really serious about improving the health sector, why didn’t she raise funds to develop and improve the cancer units in existing government hospitals? It is my understanding that almost all government hospitals in Nigeria have a cancer unit. So what’s the point of starting afresh in Abuja. And if she wants to be tribalistic, why not develop the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital and make it ‘world-class’?

But of course she wouldn’t do that. These thieving first ladies, who usurp powers not granted to them by the constitution are just rogues. They use their position to enrich their pockets, under the guise of sham charity projects. Rather than build institutions, they take advantage of their position, as wife of head of state to build up their ‘pension’

We are now used to Nbillions donated to various pet projects at federal and state level without any commensurate result. The lifespan of such projects are only as long as the tenure of their promoters. Before, it was Maryam Babangida’s Better Life for Rural Dwellers, then came Mariam Abacha Family Support Programme, and Stella Obasanjo’s Child Care Trust. Despite the amount of donations showered on all these projects, I’m yet to see any infrastructure that has survived beyond the tenure of these women. But this trend must stop!

As for Hajia Turai, I implore her to either refund the donations she has collected or commence the Cancer Centre project without delay. And if not, I make bold to say, the blood of millions of Nigerians who have died as a result of cancer-related illness will FOREVER be on her head.


BJ said...

Seyi, Everyone of us are guilty, we did not complain before now, but then it is better late than never... As you rightly said the trend must stop, therefore we need to be weary of future programmes which might have a semblance to the previous ones. We have heard about the "Rural women", "family", "Child Care", support for the Nigerian Girl-child... what are we expecting from Patience??? 'The Uneducated Nigerian Man???',or the plight of Girls unfortunate enough to have been inflicted with Vesico Vaginal Fistula by the likes of our Sha'ria Senator-Sani Ahmed Yerima.

The main issue for us now is to highlight the fact that NO public officer's wife or husband has been accorded any constitutional role in governance, and therefore, they can only support their spouses and not create a sham programme whose sole purpose is to fleece Nigerian people and businesses as well as tax payers of funds which otherwise might be used for developmental projects, like we are seeing in Lagos.

Shmuel said...

Seyi, Thanks once again for bringing to the fore another despicable aspect of our haemorrhaged society.

It begs belief that such blatant theft can go on unchecked.

Are these misguided "donors" so blind that they cannot see through such a scam? Can such hefty amounts not be spent on more worthy causes of which there are numerous? Or is it we that are blind to the fact that the scam allows for them to recover their "donations" with interest?

Wake up FIRS! Wake up EFCC! Wake up decent Nigerians! Your Country Needs You Now!

GOD save Nigeria!


My goodness, hadn't heard about this one oh!

When will it end?