By Ogochukwu Isioma in Benin City
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has blamed the ordeal of former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu in the United Kingdom (UK) on the Nigeria’s decaying health system.
A court in the UK had last week Friday sentenced Ekweremadu to nine years and eight months in prison for an organ trafficking plot. The court also sentenced his wife, Beatrice, to four years six months while the medical doctor who acted as a ‘middleman’ in the plot, Dr Obinna Obeta, was handed a 10 years jail term and his medical license was also suspended.
Prior to the sentence, Ekweremadu, Beatrice, and Obeta were convicted of conspiracy to arrange the travel of a young Nigerian man identified as David Nwamini to Britain in order to exploit him for his kidney.
The kidney organ was intended for Ekweremadu’s sick daughter, Sonia.
Speaking when he received members of the Committee of Medical Directors (CMDs) in Nigeria, led by Prof. Emmanuel Bassey, Chief Medical Director of Uyo University Teaching Hospitals (UUTH), who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City, Obaseki expressed sadness over Ekweremadu’s ordeal.
He said it is worrying that Nigerian politicians have failed to provide a quality healthcare system for its people, adding, “If we don’t strengthen our healthcare system, we are all at risk. We need to collaborate to build a resilient healthcare system for the benefit of our people.”
“Those who have the privilege of working at the federal level should help us pull the system to the level it should be,” the Governor charged.
According to him, “UBTH has been producing doctors for over 50 years and during COVID-19 when we needed doctors, we found about 5,000 of them. If we have the core building blocks, which are the doctors, nothing should hold us back.
“We have been producing doctors and exporting them abroad in the last decades. What went wrong? We would not have succeeded in our medical profession if we left it worse than we met it.”
Earlier, the Edo governor got the commendation of the Chief Medical Directors for his sustained investment in health and other sectors of the state’s economy, acknowledging Obaseki as one of the best-performing governors in the country.
Acknowledging the governor’s strides across all sectors of the State, Prof. Bassey, who led the team commended Obaseki’s sustained investment and commitment to repositioning the healthcare sector, especially in strengthening the primary healthcare system in the State.
The Chief Medical Director noted, “We are not a political committee but a policy and advocacy group. We meet to deliberate and advocate for effective and sustainable policies, especially on tertiary healthcare of the country. We thank you for the support given to the Edo State healthcare system.
“We want to thank you for your strides in the healthcare delivery system. We thank you for strengthening the primary healthcare system in the State as without that foundation we cannot get tertiary healthcare as most of the challenges we face would have been solved in the primary healthcare centres.”
He said, “You are very strong in healthcare financing and we thank you for the Edo State Health Insurance Scheme. We thank you for the support for the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) especially during the COVID-19 era as 60 percent of COVID-19 testing was done in UBTH.”
Prof Bassey added, “We really want to thank you. We have not much to say but the truth is that you are one of the best-performing governors in this whole country, politics aside. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.”