A lot have been written and said about the inflating fraud that is gradually deluging integrity in Anambra State Ministry of Health, but more is hidden and when facts are bared, we may get closer to solving the mysteries surrounding the Commissioner for Health and his cohorts, whose offices have done more harm than good to people it should protect and speak for. These prestigious and coveted green offices have in recent times added feathers of guilt and dirt to the red cap efforts of the State Government, and in many occasions misrepresented the policies of the state government that created it to look out for the lives that they now maim with their lies, forgery, fraud and sheer selfishness.
This piece x-rays the abnormalities and fraudulent activities that are been perpetuated by persons in the ministry that have sworn to enrich their pockets from public funds and at the detriment of the masses who are in dire need of those funds, especially those living with sickle cell disorder in Anambra State.
Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder, is an association formed by solely sickle cell victims to cater for their needs, after the government failed in its purpose to see to their needs, even after they called out on several occasions. Having realised that nobody can understand and speak for them in the way they want to be understood, Mrs Aisha Edwards coordinated her colleagues living with the disorder, and together and with the help of some well-meaning Nigerians, they were able to defray the cost and upturn the obstacles and stress of registering the association with the Corporate Affairs Commission, with the purpose of being a recognised body in Nigeria that speaks for sickle cell victims and also caters for them.
SICKLE CELL LAW:
After registration of the Association, the Coordinator, Aisha Edward realised that a strong association could only stand on the tenets of the law, and that their voices could only be loud if they are rooted in the law, and being a person that understands due process she went ahead to make possible a sickle cell law through the State House of Assembly.
Can of secrets were opened during the quest for the sickle cell law which hitherto was assumed to be non-existent. After several inquiries and though the help of concerned public officers who were sympathetic to the cause of liberating the sickle cell victims from their plight of neglect, the coordinator gathered that there was an existing Sickle Cell Law which was enacted into Law by the Anambra State House of Assembly in 2002.
She however wondered like every normal person should, why her people were suffering since there was already a law to fight for them, and the contents of the law which was signed by the sitting governor then was not being enacted, not even a single line was being enacted, yet millions were budgeted every year through the Ministry of health for the purpose of fulfilling the propositions of the Law. The big questions were now:
Was the budget stipulated by the Law appropriated yearly as proposed in the law?
If yes, who takes the appropriated money after it is released, since it is not being put for public use?
If no, why is it not being appropriated and why would the government disobey the law they passed?
These crying questions needed answers to dry her tears of pain and neglect. In a bid to get these needed answers, Aisha visited the commissioner of health, Dr. Joe Akabuike to ascertain first hand from him the answers to these nagging questions, since he is the custodian on behalf of the Executive arm of the government rested with the responsibility of executing this said law.
Unfortunately, the commissioner denied knowledge of the law, saying he never knew that there existed a law known as Anambra State Sickle Cell Law. Backed up with evidences and duplicated copies of the signed law, Aisha would not take such ignorance for an answer. She however enlightened the commissioner on the law and the need for it to be enacted, since it is designed to protect the interest of her members who have become vulnerable in the society because of their condition.
The Commissioner promised to make everything possible to execute the law, the duo of Aisha and the commissioner exchanged formal pleasantries while the commissioner promised to aid the association in every way possible.
Soon after the revelation of the dumped sickle cell law, complaints were made by various sickle cell victims in the state of one Chidi Muokebe who was extorting them using various illicit means and under the guise that he was working in tandem with the State Ministry of health. Muokebe was a pin in the eye of many sickle cell victims in the state. He printed various registration cards and together with his cohorts used these cards to collect various amounts of money from sicklers in the states, from Monthly levy to several categories of levies with various names these extortions bore.
The Sickle Cell Association who felt the painful fangs of Muokebe’s bite rallied around her members and together with members of the Press, they went on a peaceful protest to the office of the commissioner of health to lay their bitter complaints of the unjust and merciless treatment they have been receiving from Muokebe and his cohorts.
The commissioner expressed regret on the plight of the sickle cell victims, he noted that he had received pockets of reports from various people about the said Muokebe and his antics. He however promised to take swift action to stop his practices in the state. He also dissuaded the association from filling charges against Muokebe, after he explained that such would stain the image of the government, since Muokebe claims to be working for the government, and such prosecution cases could be understood by the public.
The Association, understood and agreed with the commissioner, after he promised to check Muokebe’s excesses. The commissioner however, was not pleased that the association came with the press to the protest, he had preferred a meeting that would’t have any written or recorded evidences.
Fortunately, the said meeting was published on Sun Newspaper on 10th Dec. 2015.
After the protest, Aisha wrote a proposal letter to the Governor through the office of the commissioner. The said proposal beckoned on the governor to come to the aid of the association as they were losing members from neglect and pains of stigmatization inflicted on them by the society, and some medical doctors were not helping issues with the exorbitant bills they give out. The appeal mentioned a lot of things the three skilled aquistion centers and specialist clinic at the three senatorial zone, an ambulance and buses which the association needed the Governor to assist them in, and the budget was in the neighbourhood of 15million naira.
Being diplomatic and a lover of due process, Aisha sent the said letter to the office of the commissioner of health, for onward push to the Governor’s office. The commissioner received the letter and also requested Aisha to send the soft copy through his SA’s email, and this Aisha did.
However the Governor pledged a sum of 1million for the association. The said 1million became another nightmare for the association, as it took months of pressure and cries on both print and social media to get the money, which the association learnt was released by the Governor months earlier.
On one occasion Aisha visited the commissioner in his office to ascertain the status of the money but was told that it hasn’t been released, even when there were clear worthy sources saying that the money has been disbursed.
On another occasion the commissioner now complained that another group deceived him into given them the money claiming that they were the right owners of the money. This particular incident was very laughable since the commissioner cannot deny that he didn’t receive the appeal letter from a known identity, so how can he claim to be deceived even when he knows those that asked for the money. Deeper investigations revealed that Muokebe was the said group trying to deceive the commissioner, and this revelation raised various eyebrows as to how Muokebe who should be arrested by the commissioner for his fraudulent activities should now be the one deceiving him, it then became clear that Muokebe was working in tandem with the commissioner all the while, and that the commissioner advised the association not to press charges against Muokebe because he might finger him during the trial.
The one million was not released until various national tabloids carried the said news, and the commissioner had to give the cheque to the association. Unfortunately while giving presenting the cheque to the association he claimed that he was the one that wrote to the governor on behalf of the association not mentioning the fact that it was Aisha, the coordinator of the association that wrote to the governor through his office. He assumed ownership of the ideas which Aisha detailed in the letter sent to the governor, and some of these ideas are now being used by the commissioner without giving credit to the originator of the ideas. This is sheer plagiarism and theft of concept, and should be less expected from a commissioner.
Using the ideas is very good and not bad at all, but not crediting them to the originator is where the crime lies.
1 MILLION NAIRA FUND
During the already stated 1 million naira saga, the commissioner confirmed that he would have nothing to do with the sickle cell association, this was propably due to the bitterness and embarrassment he felt after the long media outcry that led to the release of the said fund. He sent a text to Aisha, the coordinator of the association, disassociating himself from all acftivities of the association. This the association accepted though with pain but in good fate.
However, the commissioner didn’t stop at that, he sent one of his relatives to the meeting of the association on a day he felt the 1 million would be shared, since he felt the association was after money and not the wellbeing of her members. The said relative was not a sickler and so had not been coming to the meeting, since he was not coming as a representative, rather he came under the guise of a sickler. As usual he was fished out and sent away.
Unknown to the commissioner the association he expected to share the 1 million amongst themselves, used the money to defray the cost of school fees, buy first aid boxes and rent shops and apartments for over 300 of her members.
PARALLEL WORLD SICKLE CELL DAY
Prior to this year’s World Sickle Cell Day, an event of the United Nations held every June 19th in respect of the sickle Cell disorder, the association wrote the Governor and his wife respectively. That of the Governor was sent through the commissioner of health and the association also wrote the commissioner of health as well informing them of her plans to hold a ground breaking event for the World Sickle Cell Day.
The letter which was addressed to the Governor through the Commissioner’s office hinted that the association would be hosting over 5 states that wants to share in the strength the association has garnered in Anambra State. The letter humbly requested for support and the presence of the government, but it was disheartening that on the day of the event which was celebrated at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, neither the Governor nor the Commissioner came and no representatives were seen from the state government, even when the visiting states had representatives for their state government.
The association felt the pain of the neglect, which goes a long way to tell how the parent ministry is treating an association as hers. Through the help of Prince Engr. Arthur Eze succor was restored to the association as Prince Arthur Eze built a Sickle Cell Clinic for the association at Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Ukpo and also donated cash for the sickle cell day. This generosity from Arthur Eze geared the association to move on and make exploits not minding the neglect it got from the ministry of health.
However, the association was overwhelmed with anger when she learnt that the same Ministry of Health that failed to honor her invitation was organizing another world sickle Cell Day, ten days after the UNO Fixed date for the celebration.
The Association would have stomached the neglect, but it learnt that the Ministry got students of primary school to celebrate the world sickle cell day, and during the celebration the commissioner highlighted the plans for the government has for sickle cell victims in the state. It was therefore baffling as to what business these primary school students had with world sickle cell day, since none of them was a sickle cell victim.
However, sources revealed that funds were released by the State Governor to plan the World Sickle Cell Day, but the commissioner in his sworn hatred for people Living with sickle Cell in the state, decided not to give out the money to support the day, but rather went ahead to organize his own world sickle cell day, even when it was already ten days later than the official date and the guests had nothing related to sickle cell. It is clear that he rushed to host the said event to be able to show his saint hands before the governor that the money disbursed for World Sickle Cell Day was used for its purpose.
The Association also learnt from a Publication on one of the Weekly Tabloids that the commissioner when asked by Journalists why he refused to work with the already recognised Sickle Cell Group said that the Government prefers to deal with whoever it likes. These words hurts more than the python’s venom, because it is clear now that the government are now the ones stigmatizing discriminating the sickle cell victims in Anambra State.
The commissioner of Health may appear as a saint when he is clad in his white shirt and red cap, but the truth is that he is very far from a saint. The commissioner threatened some doctors in the state after he felt the association embarrassed him, that they should increase their bills while dealing with members of the association and never to show face in any of our programs, which the association is very familiar with such unethical treatment from some of our supposed life savers called Doctors.
The sickle cell fraud is not alone on his black records, his fingers are also in the mudy waters of the chemically treated mosquito nets fraud and the much rumoured Innoma Cholera fraud.
The commissioner for health has done virtually nothing in improving the health standards of the citizens of the state, but has done everything possible in endangering their lives.
It is pertinent to note that the reason the association still supports this government is because of the relentless efforts of the wife of the Governor, who has shown exceeding love and care to the association, and always comes to her aid whenever they beckon on her. Other than her, the association has received total neglect from the state government, and making issues worse is the brazen fraud and neglect perpetuated by the commissioner for health.