Without any apology, I am proud to be a Nigerian and as such, I have every right to look straight into the eyes of our leaders and tell them what they are not doing right. I am first and foremost a journalist; a promoter of prudence and accountability, so you will please excuse me or rather try to understand me when you read this article about the fraud being perpetrated by the top management staff of SURE-P Maternal and Child Health.
When I talk about the top management staff of the SURE-P MCH I mean the Project Director Dr. Ugo Okoli and the Accountant Mr. Ada Egahi. These are the people who have continued to corner the resources meant to address the Maternal and Child Health challenges in Nigeria to their personal gains using all dubious means like contract inflation or using their personal companies to siphon our money.
The question is; how long do we as Nigerians fold our hands and allow this ugly situation to continue? It is our collective responsibility as Nigerians to make sure that things are done in order. One would have expected that after three years of the introduction of SURE-P MCH and the amount of money that have been released to them so far, meaning development would have been achieved in our health sector.
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In stating my case, I want to mention very clearly that the reason why nothing meaningful have been achieved by the SURE-P MCH is simply because the Project Director and the Accountant have chosen to enrich themselves rather than use to fund for the maternal and child health system. They have resorted to actions that spell nothing but doom because it will definitely back fired.
When I visited the SURE-P MCH office at Emeka Anyoku Street in Area 11, Abuja on a fact finding tour on Thursday 11th June, 2015, I met some staff at the gate who told me that they were just sacked. These are people who before their formal engagement had worked for the agency for more than a year before they started getting their monthly salary. One of them who spoke on anonymity said they had not been paid two months salary before the news of their disengagement came verbally that hot afternoon. He also told me that they heard from a reliable source that their salaries are still going in some people’s pocket. What manner of public office is that? I do hope that the good people of Nigeria will not seat and watch this injustice being melted on other fellow Nigerians.
Since the introduction of the SURE-P MCH in 2012, looting of our collective treasury has been elevated to an art. It is now “give me my share and take your own” The more they steal the more they fabricate non-existing projects just to cover up. This phenomenon has no doubt affected everything about the SURE-P MCH as Mr. Egahi and Dr. Okoli have suddenly become owners of different companies and schools across the country. The addresses of these companies and schools will be available in the next article.
These are not normal times for the health sector in Nigeria, especially the maternal and child health unit. Not that the situation had ever been better. Talk of infant mortality rate, lost of lives during child bearing and lack of basic facilities in our primary health care centres across the country, the story is as old as the agency itself. Even when it appeared rosier with the intervention of special grant like the SURE-P, the good life is only for the few privileged ones who accidentally find themselves at the helm of affairs.
First and foremost, Dr. Okoli and Mr Egahi must account for the N16.1 billion, N15.9 billion and N12.1 billion allocations for 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. They must tell Nigerians what they have used these funds for.
Dr. Okoli and her partner have continued to lie to Nigerians that SURE-P MCH has intervened in over 1000 primary health care centres and over 250 referral hospitals across the 36 states of the federation including the FCT. As a matter of fact, this has remained a policy statement that has never been achieved as no such projects can be seen anywhere. They talk about conditional cash transfer; the question is; how many pregnant women have benefited from the programme and how much do they claim to spend? I can assure you that this is only a cash transfer to their pockets as no pregnant woman has ever benefited from such programme in Benue State where I come from.
Secondly, Dr. Okoli must account for the hundreds of millions of Naira she used to acquire 120 bed hospital and all the other landed properties within and outside Abuja in just three years of her appointment as the Project Director SURE-P MCH. And to the accountant, Mr. Egahi, he must account for the money he used to build Goal Setters schools, the School of Health, the numerous houses and other landed properties that he has acquired within the last three years.
The fraud deal is practically between these two officers and no matter how long it takes, the long arms of the law must catch them. It is a pity that all efforts to curb corruption in Nigeria have failed. But to Dr. Okoli and Egahi, I commit you in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for Justice, and if the anti-graft agency fails to do its job and the federal government under our respected leader, President Mohammadu Buhari fails also to take proper measures to stop or arrest you, I commit you in the hands of God Almighty.
You may continue to allocate to yourselves funds meant for the development of the health sector in Nigeria, but I assure you that the long arm of the law will catch up with you sooner or later.
Following this blatant disregard to the principle of prudence, accountability, transparency and total disrespect to the rule of law, I urge the EFCC to immediately commence the process of investigating these allegations.
I will not rest. I will not give up. I have vowed to continue to use this platform to make sure that Nigeria defeats corruption. MAY GOD HELP US ALL!
Comrade Augustine Inalegwu is a Public Affairs Analyst from Abuja
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