EVERY dime, every dollar repatriated and received as ‘Abacha loot was put into making Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital a centre of excellence in health care. The best cancer preventing, cancer fighting equipment were shipped in and installed. The best cardio-vascular centre was also put in place. The President told the Minister of Health to turn ABUTH into the best tertiary hospital in Africa and one that competes favourably with the best in the world. No cost was spared. Everybody worked round the clock. The President insisted on progress report every Friday right after Jumat. He was determined not to leave the health sector the way he met it. Of course, those whose stock-in-trade and calling was noise raised their voices to new decibels. How could he focus on one hospital? And in the north too! He’s spending too much money on only one hospital. The National Assembly professional detractors seized the media in all forms, threatened and foamed in the mouth. The lawmakers called him names. The President brought in more equipment. They threatened to impeach him. He told the construction company to speed things up. The day the lawmakers started collecting signatures to commence impeachment process, the Ministry of Health took over the front pages of newspapers(the one they call wrap-around adverts) to showcase the state-of-the-art world class, eye-popping brand new ABUTH. And before the never-do-well detractors could infect the atmosphere with ‘na wash’ and ‘it’s all photos and photoshop’ denigrating statements, the Minister of Health conducted journalists on live television round and through every inch of the hospital. Not done, the President had a world press conference followed by special reports by CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera on the newest hospital in Africa.
The celebration drowned the voices of the tribal warlords and ethnic jingoist. President Buhari’s statement became a quote all over the world;
‘I was just determined to build a hospital that will not just serve my people but one that will become world referral centre. I wanted this administration to be remembered years after we’ve left office. I wanted to build a hospital that will encourage the next government to do better. And I was determined to block my ears to the voices of distraction.’
The loud applause from all those who tried to distract and discourage him almost ….
Then I saw that the unity schools had become one massive construction site. The President had given the Minister of education 12 months to renovate all the Federal Government Colleges across the country. Carpenters, plumbers, tillers and bricklayer were deployed via direct labour to all the sites. All of them were remodelled and reequipped. Of course, the noisemakers moved in again and asked all kinds of dumb questions.
Are unity schools the only secondary schools in Nigeria? Why can’t he fix all of them? Were they appropriated for in the budget? That is an impeachable offence. We told you the man is not a democrat. He is spending our money anyhow…bla bla bla.
The president ignored the noise. Some of the desperate ones even went to court to seek injunctions to stop the renovations but no court granted any. The judges were determined not to be part of any foolhardy stunts.
At the end of it all, the schools shone in the sun. New buildings, new furniture, even new uniforms. The noise soon died down when the negative story merchants started sounding like the enemies of progress that they really were.
But the President was not done with the education sector. He was headed for the University of Ibadan. He wanted it to be a model. He wanted Nigerian children to return to Nigerian universities.
Yet the country could not afford to fix all her universities in one fell swoop. What to do? Model the premier university after Harvard or Princeton. Harvard was chosen and the Minister had his orders. After 18 months of sustained intensive investment, all the alumni of UI could not recognise their alma mater. Right from the gates, it was a brand new UI. Great facilities, improved remunerations, ambience of an ivy league school, the university got the total make-over.
In an interview after the commissioning of The University of Ibadan, the President declared;
This is another drop in the ocean of our determination to leave a legacy and lay a foundation for a greater Nigeria. Even if we do not succeed in raising the standard of all the universities to this level, this is our pilot, evidence of our dream. We want to give our best to education. We want Nigerians to get their degrees in Nigeria instead of funding other economies. It is a start and I assure you it is not a false start.’
And then I saw a big well-lit city. I heard people talking about some called Embedded Generation. They said it was the brainchild of the powerful minister (Okunrin Meta) in charge of three ministries. It started with a pilot scheme.
One community on Lagos Island got an embedded plant, got regular electricity and paid even though the tariff was higher but compared to what the residents were spending on diesel to power their generators, the embedded miracle was an uncommon gift, a long awaited relief.
What would we do with our generators now…
And that was when my alarm went off. I had been in dream land, dreaming of the Nigeria of my dreams, dreaming of the change we voted for. But wait a second, which of all those nice things is rocket science? How difficult is it to bring in the embedded technology if we start the process today? Are there not enough professors to begin the process of modelling one, just one, university after Harvard or any of the ivy league universities around the world? How difficult can it be to restore the glory of our public secondary schools, in phase, beginning with the unity schools? Are we so broke we cannot fix our universities one at a time?
What do we lack, money or courage? I think what we lack is courage to brush bureaucracy and bottlenecks aside and do what needs to be done?
Ongoing suicide missions in Lagos
Why are okada riders still all over Lagos? Those dare devil steel on wheels careering dangerously all over the place and consistently dumping passengers either in emergency wards and orthopaedic hospitals? And those are the lucky ones. The others end up in the morgue.
I thought there is a law that restricts okada riders in Lagos to inner roads where they cannot speed and shorten lives and limbs? Was the lw repealed or amended while I was sleeping and enjoy dreamland revolutions? No?
So, why does everybody, okay not everybody, look the other while the maiming and killing go on? They have even stopped wearing helmets. And I see them everywhere including third mainland bridge! I know government does not have the ability to stop people from developing suicide tendencies, but it can stop people from actually fulfilling those tendencies.
Dear Governor Ambode, can you please rescue us from these men who want to take as many people as possible on suicide missions. And to think all you need to enlist on this mission is oftentimes N50! Ah, Mr Governor, you have to do something. I suggest we start by stopping the registration of new okadas. That should be a nice place to start.