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Needed: One standard hospital per state (1) – By HASSAN GIMBA

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Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime


I never thought I could attend the Eid prayer held on 10th April, a day after I clocked the definitive age of 60: I have now joined the senior citizens’ rank. Not being confident I could attend the Eid prayer seems an understatement; for actually, in February, the way I was feeling within me, it was looking to me that I would not witness Ramadan, not to talk of participating in the Eid marking its end.

I easily get exhausted from the littlest of tasks, making me always gasping for air to fill my lungs. It reached a stage where I could not walk ten metres without bending down, holding my knees and inhaling from both my mouth and nose.

It all came to a head when the news of the death of my mother reached me in the early hours of January, 8. I could not walk at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja which made the flight authorities move me in a wheelchair to the base of the plane, where I climbed the stairs with great effort, stopping at the plane’s entrance to gather myself.

The same routine was enacted when our plane landed at the Malam (don’t know why they spelt it MALLAM with a double l) Aminu Kano International Airport, where I had to be wheeled to the vehicle that conveyed me to Potiskum. To ease my difficulty, I had to be injected intravenously with bronchodilators on the three-hour journey.

Throughout the week I was at Potiskum for her seven-day prayers, I was ensconced in my room and couldn’t be at the family house where the main gathering took place. And I became dependent on my wives for many things a healthy person would do for himself.

SEE ALSO:  Enugu's Quantum Leap: Governor Peter Mbah's Visionary Transportation Revolution

And it is not as if I had not sought medical attention. God knows I had always advocated for our leaders to attend hospitals at home. I did the same. Some seven years ago I went to the Asokoro General Hospital where an x-ray was done for me. They said there was nothing wrong, but I knew something was wrong with me. Even then, I started feeling exhausted because I could not do what I normally did easily. And it had nothing to do with ageing.

I did some tests in some private laboratories, and the results were normal. Then I went to NISA Hospital in Abuja where I was looked after by a pulmonologist, Dr James Agada. It is not a run-of-the-mill hospital and not cheap, moreover, I paid for VIP treatment. Yet, my case kept deteriorating till I became almost an invalid.

Then I had an opportunity to visit my governor, Honourable Mai Mala Buni, over an issue that needed some clarifications and he saw my condition. He became alarmed and sought to know what happened. I explained what I could to him, including my voyage to hospitals here that were quick to give me a clean bill of health that I knew was not true.

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He undertook the process to reverse the ailment and give me back some lost health. He got in touch with an agent, Shettima Alkali, a kind-hearted professional, who got me a visa to Saudi Arabia. Buni, a man of faith, said: “To be there, drinking the holy Zamzam water and praying at the Ka’aba itself would do you wonders.”

And so began my journey in search of health.

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I left Nigeria on 12th February from the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport via Peace Air. I will talk about Air Peace and its wonderful, friendly crew another day.

As had become the norm, I was wheeled into the plane from Abuja to Kano to board the Saudi flight and at the Kano airport too I was wheeled into the plane. It was the same procedure at Jeddah Airport until I reached the apartment where I was to stay. Once there I found it easier and more convenient since I had my son, Abubakar Sadik, a big, strong fella to do the wheeling.

In Saudi Arabia, one goes through the healthcare system from the Primary Health Care Centres except if one wants to go straight to a private hospital. To conserve funds and also see how their system works, I started from the former despite my almost desperate condition.

However, if you are an Umrite (my coinage for one undergoing the Umrah), you have an inalienable right to be accepted and diagnosed in government hospitals free of charge, even though there are fee-paying options.

Relying on that right, I started by going to the Jeddah East General Hospital where various tests were carried out on me: blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), x-rays, computerised tomography (CT) scans, etc., and the results were good. With all health issues eliminated, everything pointed to problems to do with pulmonology.

Still, I went to a Primary Health Centre this time around. Their primary health centres are as equipped as our general hospitals, if not better. Being the entry point to the health system, every General Hospital has a PHC that refers patients to it. And so this one referred me to King Abdul Aziz General Hospital, Jeddah, where the same tests conducted at Jeddah East were repeated with the same conclusion.

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With the certainty of what my ailment was, I left Jeddah for Madinah, arriving at Makkah the next day. I searched online for a good pulmonologist and each search result had one Egyptian, Dr Hebatullah Kamal Taha of Saudi-German Hospital, Makkah, coming up tops. She also comes a bit more expensive than the others. I then booked and paid for an appointment with her for the next day.

SEE ALSO:  Needless Alarm Over N100BN Enugu State Palm Plantation Deal

At exactly 10 am the next day, accompanied by my wife, Dr Aminat Zakari, and son wheeling me, I was ushered into Dr Heba’s office. A petite, friendly, middle-aged woman. After analysing the results from the two General Hospitals we went to in Jeddah, she made us do a test to ascertain the level of oxygen in my blood and then prescribed some drugs, telling us to return after five days.

Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.

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Opinion

Enugu’s Quantum Leap: Governor Peter Mbah’s Visionary Transportation Revolution

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Enugu gov't approves establishment of army barracks in Isi-Uzo LGA
Enugu State Governor, Dr Peter Mbah


By Dr. Maxwell Menkiti Ngene

In a bold move that is set to transform the landscape of Enugu State, Governor Peter Mbah has unveiled the Enugu Modern Transport Interchange, a state-of-the-art transportation hub that is poised to revolutionize the way people move within and outside the city.

This monumental project is a testament to the governor’s unwavering commitment to modernizing Enugu and unlocking its full potential.

The Enugu Modern Transport Interchange is an architectural masterpiece that boasts cutting-edge design, comfort, and convenience. Strategically located in the heart of the city, this transportation hub is designed to provide seamless connectivity for commuters, travelers, and businesses alike. With its sleek and modern facilities, the interchange is set to become an iconic landmark in Enugu, showcasing the state’s growth and development.

Governor Mbah’s vision for the Enugu Modern Transport Interchange is not just about building a bus station; it’s about creating a sustainable transportation ecosystem that promotes economic growth, reduces congestion, and enhances the quality of life for residents. By providing a safe, efficient, and reliable transportation system, the governor is empowering the people of Enugu to move freely, explore opportunities, and access essential services.

The Enugu Modern Transport Interchange is a game-changer for the state’s transportation sector. With its advanced technology and modern infrastructure, it is set to reduce travel times, increase efficiency, and enhance the overall commuting experience. The interchange will also serve as a catalyst for economic growth, attracting businesses, investments, and job opportunities to the state.

Governor Mbah’s commitment to modernizing Enugu’s transportation system is a testament to his leadership and vision. By investing in critical infrastructure projects like the Enugu Modern Transport Interchange, he is demonstrating his unwavering dedication to the people of Enugu and his desire to leave a lasting legacy.

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As Enugu continues to evolve and grow, the Modern Transport Interchange will remain a shining example of the state’s potential and a beacon of hope for a brighter future. Governor Mbah’s transportation revolution is not just about building roads and buses; it’s about building a better Enugu for generations to come.

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Needless Alarm Over N100BN Enugu State Palm Plantation Deal

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By Samson Ezea

Undoubtedly, the country’s economy is in dire straits, which requires that certain pragmatic actions must be urgently, rightly, and extraordinary taken to salvage the situation before it collapses completely. This is time for both the leaders and the led to put on their thinking caps.

That is why, for example, the crusade has been for the country and its people to move from consumption and importation to production. This is in order to revive, rescue, and strengthen the economy and create employment for the teeming unemployed citizens.

Clearly, Enugu State Governor, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah has since assuming office demonstrated his belief and understanding of the above clarion call which is in sync with his campaign promises of moving the state economy exponentially from the current 4.4bn dollars to 30bn dollars through private sector investments, reviving and repositioning of the state-owned moribund and abandoned industries, assets and public utilities.
This Governor Mbah has already done by awarding contracts for the completion of the age-long abandoned International Conference Centre and the immediate rehabilitation of the moribund state-of-the-art Hotel Presidential, Enugu. Not resting on his oars, Governor Mbah has moved to revamp NigerGas Limited, NigerSteel Limited, Aluminium Smelting Company Ohebe Dim, and others.
For the fact that these bold economic moves and efforts of Governor Mbah’s administration are unprecedented in the history of governance and leadership in the state since its creation, it deserves the support of every discerning person. This is considering the quantum of jobs and economic boom it will bring to the state after completion.
Knowing, believing and practicalising the axiomatic saying that a country could be said to be economically prosperous, buoyant and stable by producing in abundance what her people eat and export as well as earn revenue, Governor Mbah, has apart from commencing the revamping of the Ogrugru Jetty and establishing many hectares of cassava plantations across the state, recently sealed a N100BN Public Private Partnership deal with the Pragmatic Palms Ltd to revive the dormant Enugu State-owned United Palm Products Ltd.

The deal which was commended by many, even beyond the state, was ignorantly and mischievously described as fraudulent and conduit pipe to divert public funds by the struggling opposition Labour Party in the state and other armchair critics, social media alarmists, traducers and scaremongers, who usually pontificate and misyarn on matters and issues they are not knowledgeable or conversant with or have not done due diligence on.

Enugu Labour Party’s misleading statement on the deal was contained in a press statement issued and signed by its state chairman, Barr. Casmir Agbo and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Onuora Odo.

SEE ALSO:  Enugu's Quantum Leap: Governor Peter Mbah's Visionary Transportation Revolution

Clearing the air and puncturing the Enugu Labour Party’s misleading information and armchair strictures against the N100BN deal, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Mbah on External Relations, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, in a media statement titled “FACTS OF THE N100BN DEAL TO REVIVE MORIBUND ENUGU STATE UNITED PALM PRODUCTS LTD” laid bare the incontrovertible facts about the deal.
Parts of the statement read: “The Enugu State United Palm Products Ltd., UPPL, is one of the numerous initiatives of the former Premier of the defunct Eastern Region, the late Dr. Michael Okpara, and had lain fallow for decades.

“Enugu State Government IS NOT releasing N100bn or any dime to Pragmatic Palms Ltd. Instead, Pragmatic Palms Ltd, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the partnership, will finance the revitalisation of UPPL. Pragmatic Palm Ltd. will provide finance for 60 per cent of the transaction value, while the Enugu State Government will provide the plantations valued as 40 per cent equity.”

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On the incorporation of the Pragmatic Palms Ltd, the statement read:”Because several parties/investors are involved, it became imperative, as is the best international practice, to register a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) as the platform to transact the deal. Pragmatic Palms Ltd. was duly incorporated before the signing of the agreement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, however, although it is not the case in this instance, it is apposite to also note that the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, provides for Pre-incorporation Contract. Section 96 (1) of CAMA, 2020, provides: “Any contract or other transaction purporting to be entered into by the company or by person on behalf of the company prior to its formation may be ratified by the company after its formation and thereupon the company shall become bound by and entitled to the benefit thereof as if it has been in existence at the date of such contract or other transaction and had been a party thereto.”

“As demanded by the Enugu State Government, Pragmatic Palms Ltd. provided a guarantor, which is Diamond Stripes Ltd, a reputable and huge company that has done investments worth over $20bn spanning power and renewable energy sector, port sector, and agricultural sector since 2013. Diamond Stripes Ltd. is the sole investor in Onitsha River Port and has invested heavily in the agricultural sector, where it is the largest owner of silo complexes in Nigeria. It was involved in the acquisition of 600MW Shiroro Hydroelectric Power plant in 2013, concessions of 30MW Gurara Hydroelectric Power Plant in 2019, and establishment of 300MW Shiroro solar power project in 2021.

SEE ALSO:  Needless Alarm Over N100BN Enugu State Palm Plantation Deal

“The state’s interest in the N100BN UPPL deal is well secured, benefitting from Governor Peter Mbah’s experience as an investment finance expert and an entrepreneur who has handled multi-billion-dollar projects himself. Besides asking for and getting a corporate guarantor on the part of Pragmatic Palms Ltd, the government also demanded for and got bank guarantors from Pragmatic Palms. Importantly, performance targets and timelines were equally set in the Agreement for Pragmatic Palms Ltd. failing which the Enugu State Government is free to revoke the deal and reassume total ownership of United Palm Products Ltd., UPPL.

“In addition, the Enugu State Government is represented on the company’s Board, including the Chairmanship of the Board, as part of the steps taken to secure the state’s interest.”

In addition to the above explanations by Enugu State Government is a trending video speech of the MD of Pragmatic Palms Ltd., who is also the MD/CEO of Diamond Stripes, George Nwangwu, a professor of Project Financing Law, who has led transaction teams that have participated in the consummation of over 100 privatisation or Public Private Partnership (PPP) transactions worth over $20 billion across Africa.

Prof. Nwangwu was the Head of Infrastructure Finance at the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during which he led the team that delivered the Second Niger Bridge deal.

With these elaborate explanations and substantiated evidence about the deal, the companies and the actors involved, what else will anyone including the roving Enugu State Labour Party and their hired social media hirelings will say or criticise again? Is it not obvious and legal that the difference between the mother and child in this case is that of age and experience. The lack of experience and qualifications being complained about the child are in her mother, who is also his guarantor.

Just as it has been observed that since the issuance of the public statement on the deal by the Enugu State Government, the Enugu State opposition Labour Party and their social media cohorts have neither punctured nor commended it. They have remained silent and probably ensconced in their propaganda cocoon, even on social media platforms, where they have been running riot on the matter before now. This is at a time when silence is not golden because it invariably means acceptance.

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This has once again clearly shown that Enugu opposition parties, especially the Labour Party, need to get its act right by doing due diligence before going public with media statements against state government programmes and policies.

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Propagating falsehoods and lies in the name of media statements against state government’s policies and programmes is not virile or vibrant opposition politics. It is simply false alarm, scaremongering, and misyarning.
While it is the responsibility of the opposition to question, criticise or interrogate government’s policies and programmes, they should do so without sounding judgmental and conclusive, especially when they are bereft of knowledge, ideas and incontrovertible evidence to espouse thier positions, claims or points.

Meanwhile, what should be of utmost concern and importance to the people of the state and the opposition is to support Governor Mbah’s move to revive the state’s dormant and moribund industries, assets and public utilities through Public Private Partnership and monitor closely the spate of work on them to ensure their completion for the benefit of the state economy and its people, irrespective of party leanings and status.

There is nothing wrong with the government entering into (PPP ) provided the terms and conditions are genuine, legal, altrustic, and transparent. It is in line with the international best practice. This is considering the fact that most of these state owned companies went moribund and dormant because of negligence, nonchalance, unhinged bureaucracy, and corruption by government appointed persons who manned them.

Governor Mbah’s expertise and knowledge in this aspect is not in question, considering his exploits, achievements, and experiences in the private sector as an investment lawyer, renowned entrepreneur, investment, and financial analyst. He knows and understands it better. Governor Mbah and his government deserve benefits of doubt and unalloyed support of all and sundry in their determination to grow the state economy astronomically and exponentially by revamping the state’s moribund industries, assets and public utilities through Public PrivatePartnership (PPP ) model.
After all, the NigerGas Limited Emene Enugu started in May 1962 as partnership business between the former Eastern Nigerian Government and Siad Machine Implanti Italy, who supplied the plant and managed it until the civil war broke out in 1967. Enugu State later retained the ownership. If our founding fathers and leaders could toe this path shortly after the country’s Independence and it worked successfully, who says such partnership, cannot work well now that the country and the state are in dire need of solution to the myriad of economic challenges bedevilling the country.

Finally, there should be a limit to politics because development can not be compromised, sacrificed, or politicised on the altar of petty opposition politics.

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The marabouts of Yahaya Bello, By Festus Adedayo

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The marabouts of Yahaya Bello
Festus Adedayo


THE enchanter recited the incantation with utmost fury: “River Niger and River Benue, the confluence is in Kogi State. Except say River Niger and River Benue no come meet for Kogi; if River Niger and River Benue come meet for Kogi, dem no go fit arrest Bello… Dem dey use EFCC pursue am, dem no go succeed o. Dem go lay siege for im house for Abuja… Except say I no be born of Igala kingdom… EFCC dey front, you dey back; you dey back, dem dey front; you dey left, dem dey right; you dey right, dem dey left; you dey centre, dem come there, you jump dem pass!…a lion cannot give birth to a goat…”

The repertoire is a typical exchange in African rituals. The target was the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an organization headed by Ola Olukoyede. Olukoyede is said to be a pastor in Enoch Adeboye’s RCCG. The aim is for the de-escalation of the pursuit of Bello by the EFCC, his alleged theft of Kogi State’s N82 billion notwithstanding. Bello’s matter got escalated towards the end of the week when the EFCC chairman alleged that the ex-governor paid in advance, the sum of $845,852.84 to the Abuja school of his children. Bello has made feeble attempt to denounce this from his hiding hole with the ill-logic that it was paid with his hard-earned sweats. Why the rush to pay school fees till 2034 if where the money was got today would remain permanent?

The marabouts of Yahaya Bello

Former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

Yahaya Bello and his apologists have been spurting out bunkum. They allege that the EFCC is hounding him. Let us assume they are right. First, it is shameful for a self-styled Lion to hide inside a hole like a coyote, thereby eating stale food reserved for effeminate animals. Don’t they say that the leopard, and by extension, the lion, does not eat stale food? (Ekun kii je’ran ikasi). It is thus lawless of Yahaya Bello not to honour the anti-graft body’s lawful invitation. Bello’s 8-year reign was notorious for his naked stomping on opposition’s human rights, running a government fittingly described as an orgy of violence. Why are executioners always afraid when swords are flung in their faces? His is reminiscent of the story of an executioner in Old Oyo Kingdom whose specialty was in decapitating his victims with relish. Upon courting the ire of the Alaafin and was sentenced to death, the ex-executioner suddenly became jittery. When the man about to decapitate him began to do the traditional acrobatics pre-cutting off of his head, jittery, the ex-executioner’s voice shaky, he asked what part of his body would be cut off, “my head or feet?” Celebratory townsmen who had gathered to witness his comeuppance were angered and demanded rhetorically what part of his victims’ bodies he relished in cutting off during his reign of terror.

Now, the patronage of priests, priestesses of divinities, herbalists, sorcerers and occults is key to resolution of political dilemmas. Politicians use charms, amulets, rings, belts, ritual, incantations for the attainment of political goals. Either it was a skit or reality, that viral video of enchanters seeking Yahaya Bello to be set free typifies the usual scene in power relations in Africa. In the bid to attain, sustain or vend off irritants in political power struggles, there is widespread evidence confirming that many Africans today strongly hold on to beliefs which they got from traditional cosmologies.

Late University of Leiden scholar, Stephen Ellis, in a 2001 article, “Mystical Efforts: Some evidence from the Liberian war” (Journal of Religion in Africa, XXX1, 2) described how Monrovians were shocked at how soldiers “(disemboweled) the bodies of their victims and (eat) their flesh or internal organs, particularly the heart.” The art of eating human heart is borne of a residue of practices in Africa. The belief is that, a person’s essence is contained in the heart and the blood. So, once the hearts and blood of these warriors are eaten and drunk, “the one who had just eaten them acquires some of the power formerly possessed by his victim.”

SEE ALSO:  Needless Alarm Over N100BN Enugu State Palm Plantation Deal

Wherever Bello is at the moment, no one needed to be told that he is engrossed with one or a combination of three elements in the bid to confront the coercive power of the Nigerian state. In the tragedy that is Yahaya Bello, these three elements must be making gross harvests from his calamity. They are, on the one hand, the religious combine made up of Pastors, Alfas and African indigenous religious rituals and magic. The second is, lawyers scrambling to profit from what they perceive as the loot from Kogi. Some shameless ones among them gathered in court last week to protest against the EFCC. The third is bloggers/journalists who by now must have offered to defreeze adversarial comments against him in traditional and social media platforms.

Marabouts have become notorious in the incestuous relationship between politics and religion in northern Nigeria. They are traditionally Muslim religious leaders and teachers who functioned historically as chaplains serving in Islamic army of North Africa, the Sahara, and in the Maghreb.

For very many African heads of state, clerics and known spiritualists were their advisors. Kenneth Kaunda was top among them. As president of Zambia, he had an Indian, Dr Ranganathan, as consultant on power matters. So also did President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin. He had a Malian marabout called Mohamed Amadou Cisse, also known as ‘Djine’ or ‘the Devil’ as his spiritual advisor. Cisse once publicly espoused the Devil. He was hitherto advisor to some other African leaders like Mobutu and Omar Bongo of Gabon. Kerekou later appointed Cisse minister of state whose responsibility in the Beninese government was secret services. President Didier Ratsiraka of Madagascar too had a palace that boasted of an extravagant temple dedicated to Rosicrucian god. So also did Paul Biya of Cameroon and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.

SEE ALSO:  Kogi: Real reason White Lion fears the zoo

Marabouts, herbalists, sorcerers and occult chiefs of the Yahaya Bellos of this world and other African leaders become repositories of highly confidential state information. These get them in the process of spiritual interventions for the captive leaders. Feckless and desperate in the bid to attain and cling on to power, they divulge details of innermost governmental secrets to them. A 1998-published journal article written by Stephen Ellis and Gerrie ter Haar with the title, “Religion and Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa” (The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 175-201) discusses how leading marabouts have pre-knowledge of coups d’e tat and other secrets of power. Amadou Cisse, for instance, knew virtually all the secrets of power in Benin.

The moment the Nigerian state allows Yahaya Bello, for whatever reason, to escape the wrath of the law, its last lever of strength will snap off. Whoever kills the proverbial hunchback, the Abuke Osin, should pay dearly for it.

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