I felt terribly bad and embarrassed that as governor, I decided that we should not lament the poor state of health facilities in Edo state particularly the Central hospital that was built in 1903. So we built what I call a 5-star hospital and I deliberately went out to look for a competent Commissioner for Health, a professor of Medicine from UNIBEN to superintend over the procurement process and we ensured that we brought state of the art equipment to that hospital. We built the hospital with Edo tax payers money. We gave the contract to Vermed Nigeria limited, VERMED is well known for manufacturing hospital equipment.
They operate in many African countries. We placed orders for them to supply equipment which they did even though at the time they were given the contract the exchange rate was 195 per dollar. By the time they finished their processes the naira had been devalued. But thanks to the governor of Central Bank, he assisted to ensure that we had access to forex at the old rate and they got their dollars at N308 to a dollar. Before I left government I paid 75 per cent of the total value. All I expected my successor to do was to pay the balance. But this hospital was locked up and I read in the newspapers every day my political opponents arguing that there was nothing in the hospital. And this hospital was commissioned by President Buhari about one week before I left office. From the equipment that were already delivered, the President was impressed. But after I equipped this hospital it was closed for two years.
I kept speaking to the governor, the best way to answer PDP criticisms was to open the hospital. When it is open for business, people who go there for medical treatment will bear us witness. At a point I felt so embarrassed and I went to Aliko Dangote who is a mutual friend of the governor and myself and I said, I am unable to understand why the governor can not open the hospital. Meanwhile the equipment is there with warranty and whether you open the hospital or not those warranties are running and if they run out and tomorrow you have a problem, you need another money to buy equipment or to repair the old one. Aliko Dangote, God will bless him. He told Godwin that if you build a factory and lock it up for two years, what will happen is that the grease will dry up, the oil will dry up and you will invest a lot of money to service the machines before they can be operated. Not to talk about sensitive hospital equipment. He then asked the governor to go and open the hospital. And I get bashed every day because people believe there is nothing inside the hospital.
But I am no more the governor, so I cannot go there to defend myself. I live with this pain even though I did my best to provide that facility to the people of Edo state and indeed Nigerians who are in Edo and may need medical care. When the governor refused to open the hospital after I complained to Dangote, I asked the company to do a documentary on all the equipment at the hospital and I placed it on different Television stations including Channels. When the people saw that, then the public opinion changed. But rather than open this hospital in obedience to public outcry, they decided to set up an inquiry. The inquiry was set up by the Speaker (Adjoto) who was aggrieved because he lost the House of Reps ticket to Peter Akpatason an incumbent lawmaker. So based on his open bitterness, he was encouraged by the state government to set up this panel to rubbish themselves. And then they removed all the documents from the Ministry of Health to give the impression that the construction was a verbal transaction. But the then Commissioner for Health and Housing, brought out their own documents, showing the adverts inviting expression of interest, minutes of the meeting of the Tenders Board where the shortlisting was done, the biddings for the job and the minutes of the meeting where the tenders were open. Everything that happened including a letter from the state Ministry of Health acknowledging that Vermed had provided the equipment that were paid for. Lastly, Vermed was able to show a letter they wrote to the Ministry of Health, Edo state asking them to nominate people for training to manage this sophisticated equipment.
At the end of the day the Commissioner said he forwarded letters asking them to get people for training to the governor but he had not received any reply from him more than one year after the letter was written. Now, the members many of whom lost nomination, who were looking for fault went to the hospital to see for themselves and after that, they wrote a report that the state government had no reason to keep the hospital closed. And they asked the state government to open the hospital for public use and pay the outstanding balance to Vermed that supplied the equipment. But the governor decided to manage the hospital through a consultant rather than through the Ministry of Health. I don’t begrudge him on that, those are purely within his discretion. But what is interesting is that this consultant wrote to the MD of Vermed to say that the cutting-edge hospital equipment installed in the hospital will require continuous collaboration between the consultant and Vermed because in their word these are cutting edge technology. That was my dream for Edo people. What I expected the governor to do was the benefit of continuity because that was what we promised Edo people. Even if I was succeeded by a PDP government I don’t think they would have shut that hospital as long as the governor did. We have no argument over money, we have no argument over appointment.
In fact at a meeting that we held with four governors including Governors Bagudu, Fayemi, Niyi Adebayo now Minister and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, I asked the governor how many commissioners did I nominate into his cabinet. He agreed that I nominated only one person out of twenty commissioners and after that first meeting the governor decided to remove that one commissioner alongside seven others. The governor will not tell you that I dictate to him but the only thing I feel worried about is that some of the projects we started together have been abandoned including the Benin Water storm master plan. Where I left it, they did not continue with it and if they don’t continue with it, flood will return to Benin. These are not personal issues. As National chairman of APC I want the progress of our governors so I must be interested about what they do. The governor had agreed at the beginning that since he is not a politician he will want help. Now when you start fighting politicians that is not governance. The governor was also on television to say that how can he, as governor of Edo state, even if, according to him, he was considered as the worst governor, conduct party primaries and I sat in Abuja and cancelled those primaries. But you all know that the responsibility of conducting primaries rest on the NWC of political parties, it does not rest on a state governor. It was this same issue he said that we had problems in Zamfara, so what he said does not make sense to me
National Chairman, APC