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Doctors in power: We are proud!

Since restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, we in the medical profession have been extremely lucky to have some of our own in positions of power in Nigeria, called to serve the people in a capacity that can have far more impact than a stethoscope. Considering the text of the Hippocartic oath that we all make (Bible in Hand)…part of which reads I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings… .” the people of Rivers and Enugu states could feel nothing but pride, joy and expectation when Dr. Peter Odili and Dr Chimaroke Nnamani were called to serve as governors of Rivers and Enugu States.

Dr. Odili graduated from the Medical School of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and has a Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the University of Liverpool. He is the proprietor of PAMO Clinics; a private medical facility in Port Harcourt and it is remarkable that in those years of practice, he won several awards including the highest Award of Distinguished Medical Practitioner of Nigeria.
On May 29, 1999, he was sworn-in as the first Executive Governor of the new Rivers State…we celebrated…

Today, Dr. Odili is trying to prevent Nigeria’s anti corruption agency, EFCC from trying him on corruption charges! Read the story here. Why is our colleague afraid? He did so much for his people! His most visible achievement in Rivers State is definitely the building of “a befitting” Government House (Brick House). He bought a “befitting” jet for the use of the Governor in the difficult task of governing Nigeria’s richest state.

The annual income of Rivers State government has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years, fueled by dramatic increases in the price of oil. During the first eight months of 2006 the state government’s average monthly federal allocations topped $95.5 million per month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. In further analysis of this report, in one of Nigeria’s most popular internet site “Nigerian Village Square“, the 2006 budget allocated $10 million to “Entertainment, Hospitality, Gifts & Souvenirs for visitors to Government House” while the budget for the health sector was $21 million for the same period! Maybe we are just not hearing about the immunisation activities he orchestered, the treatment programmes for HIV/AIDS, the new hospitals, access to primary health care. Maybe the press and EFCC is being unfair to our colleague. Maybe we should take out newspaper adverts and defend him, he is one of ours, and we have to be proud!

Then there is Dr Chimaroke Nnamani. Ex Governor of Enugu State and Distiguished Senator. Our good governor built a befitting teaching hospital for Enugu Obviously the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, established in 1960 was thought to have lost its usefulness. Dr Nnamani…did not just build, he wrote…and advocated! Read here his open letter to the federal Minister of Health, writting eloquently on how he was weighed down by his “African Dream” for health care in Nigeria…having fulfilled his American dream “with a Porsche (993 Carrera 2 Cab) in the garage, success in medical practice and the academia”. On his own website he lists his achievements in the health sector thus.

So , what is this we now hear? EFCC has moved in too. What is happening here? Properties belonging to our dear ex Governor, including Rain-bownet Telecommunications Limited, Cosmos FM Station, Capital Autos and Renai-ssance Hospital all located in Enugu have been siezed!. But he says they do not belong to him!. When EFCC came knocking, our colleague sort refuge in the National Hospital, Abuja, where thankfully colleagues prevented his arrest, albeit for a few days. Why are Enugu residents marching against our dear colleague? Why he is not smiling any more…

Should we not be ashamed of our colleagues and the fame they have brought us? What type of fame? As doctors, we were taught that probity and honesty are central to the role we play. That this applies to apply to all things doctors do, not just in patient care. We are taught that we are role models in society. That we are priviledged to get a medical education in a country where most would not dare dream. Considering this, surely, non of our colleagues could possibly have done these things…EFCC must be mistaken, the people must be mis-guided….OR COULD THEY?

In whose interest is it to buy jets for state governments…while people suffer? While the Niger Delta burns? Our Enugu..our dear Enugu…Time was when one could go out at 2 am in the morning. Yet the peace has been killed in Enugu. Whatever EFCC finds…when asked under whose watch did these things happen…it will be our colleagues. Ashamed…I am.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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