• Kicks against ‘media trial’ of suspects by EFCC
(Fred Itua, ABUJA)
Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday, gave tips on how President Muhammadu Buhari could go about the repatriation of stolen funds and assets, starched in many parts of the United Kingdom (UK).
The foremost politician, cum businessman, who featured in Good Morning Nigeria programme on the network service of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), said President Buhari needed to look beyond the statement credited to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, where he described Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’.
He admonished the president to sit with officials of British Government and fashion out ways to begin the process of repatriation of stolen funds and assets.
Kalu warned against any form of confrontation, adding that it could stray the existing relationship between the two countries. He said if Nigeria severes its relationship with UK, the country would suffer.
Kalu said: “If government had provided good infrastructure, people will not be looking for money. In Nigeria, people provide everything for themselves. They need to fend for themselves. To repatriate the stolen money, I think President Muhammadu Buhari needs to sit with down with officials of the British government and negotiate. What we are trying to avoid is to ensure there is no diplomatic war. If we cut our ties with the British government, we will suffer because we will not be able to repatriate the said funds.”
Meanwhile, the former governor has called on the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to desist from trying suspects in the media, warning that it is unlawful and unfair.
Kalu rather advocated that the anti-graft agency should invite suspects for one-on-one negotiation or meeting. He added that only convicted cases should be made available to the media.
While tracing the root causes of media trial by the EFCC to its early days, Kalu noted that the anti-graft agency was, originally, set up by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to discredit his perceived political opponents. He said the agency was not initially established to fight corruption.
He recalled how the media wrongly reported, in the past, that he had 10 houses in London. He maintained that he only had one house, which he purchased in 1991, long before he became governor of Abia state between 1999 and 2007.
He said: “The EFCC was just a house set up to discredit people who disagreed with the government. It was not really meant to fight corruption. Media trial of people is not the best. I will advice the EFCC to stop that. Talk to the accused persons privately.
“It was the same way the media said I had 10 houses in London, whereas it was just one house and I got it in 1991. Should I have given up my house because I became a governor?”
India enhances capacity of Nigerian doctors to end medical tourism
…Wants diseases treated in Nigeria
Indian hospitals are currently training Nigerian doctors in order to enhance their capacity and bring home new technologies that would help them treat difficult cases in the country.
The essence of the training and capacity building, according to the driver of the initiative, Apollo Hospital, is to reduce medical tourism and boost healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
The hospital is already collaborating with Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), located in Ikeja, and assures Nigerians that Indian doctors will ensure many patients with difficult cases are treated here rather than outside the country.
Speaking at a seminar held at LASUTH, Mr Rakesh Jalla, Business Head, Apollo Hospital Group in Nigeria, said the hospital is collaborating with LASUTH for knowledge sharing and capacity building, adding that disclosure of advanced technologies in surgeries would also be a key focus.
“Most Nigerians travel to Indian for medical treatments because of certain things and gaps. So, Apollo is collaborating to perform surgeries here.
“Instead of patients travelling abroad, we will send down our own doctors to come over and perform the surgeries here in Nigeria. Only advanced cases will be taken to India,” Jalla said.
In a separate interview, Prof David Adewale, chief medical director of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said Indians have been able to use their capacity to develop their health system, which is now comparable with the health systems you can get in any part of the world.
“After my few visits to India, I discovered that they have referrals from UK, USA and other parts of the globe. We noted that for us to develop our medical capacity, it would be better to collaborate with India, and not just India as a whole, but specific hospitals in the country. So that is why we have to look for hospitals that have the capacity and reputation that can enable us do the same in Nigeria, and Apollo Hospital is one such hospital,” Adewale said.
The chief medical director said “India has the expertise for virtually all the super specialties in medicines”, adding, “we felt this is the kind of hospital we should collaborate with, and this is one of the first steps we are taking; to bring in experts to come and give lectures. If you notice their lectures, you will see they are talking about advances in surgery, and they have the capacity to do it because I have seen it. We hope that the next phase is to send our doctors there or bring in their own doctors from there to perform some of these advanced surgeries they have mentioned during the medical lectures here.”
Speaking on the cost of the collaboration, Adewale said Lagos State has a free health policy that covers patients that are below 12 and patients that are above 60.
“To a large extent, the cost of treatment is made appreciably lower. With the insurance scheme the state has signed into law, and ones it is putting into effect, there is no need looking at paying less; but for the ones that pay their premium, they can access any health care treatment, including surgeries.”
He further stated that the hospital would send its doctors to India through Apollo to increase their capacity in terms of skills acquisitions, stressing that there would be exchange programmes and knowledge sharing between LASUTH and Apollo.
“This collaboration will enable our doctors become more knowledgeable and develop confidence to approach these operations.
The need to refer patients outside the country will be reduced. When patients are referred outside the country, they spend more on flight, hotels and relatives going with them and they are not in their environment. When a patient is operated at home, he spends less and recovers faster,” he added.