Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lamentations of a ‘frustrated’ Nigerian Surgeon

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The story below depicts how corruption in other institutions would never allow Nigeria’s health system perform optimally. I worked with the writer during my housemanship a couple of years ago. He shared this on Nigerian doctors facebook group. Kindly read on…

Ahidjo Abdulkadiri Kawu wrote;

“Colleagues,
1. I am a spine surgeon employed at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada Abuja as a consultant.
2. I was a fellow of Scoliosis Research Society at the New York Hospital for Joint Diseases, US in August 2010 under the tutelage of Dr Baron S Lonner.
3. At the completion of my training, Dr Baron S Lonner on my behalf approached Samantha Torres of DePuy Spine Inc US for donation of spine equipment to help operate indigent patients in Nigeria to put to practice all I have learnt with him.
4. On the 15th December 2010, DePuy Spine Inc US approved the donation of some spine items for use by me at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.
5. I contacted my hospital management who informed me to ship the equipment to Nigeria.
6. My clearing agent Siklaw Global Resource Ltd after completing the Form M and risk assessment paid the custom duty on the 6th march 2011.
7. The equipment was shipped in to Nigeria from the US and arrived in May 2011.
8. On arrival, the O/C (Officer in Charge) Custom Services Mr Wakama GAP inspected the document and said that we must settle him before he release the good since the donated equipment has a value of about N50 million.
9. I instructed the clearing agent to refuse to part with any money.
10. In order to frustrate the release of the equipment he refused to examine or release the equipment till it incurred a demurrage of N27, 800.00. His Immediate boss intervene and directed him to inspect and release the equipment
11. In-order to justify his delay in inspecting the goods, he wrote a report that we undervalued the goods so as to evade payment of the requisite custom duty
12. Due to his greed; the need to justify his action and covered his crime he forgot that medical equipment and donated materials for humanitarian purpose do not attract any duty
13. This issue dragged on till 15th July 2011, when I wrote an official petition to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Custom Service.
14. There was no response from the Nigeria Custom Service till October 2011 when I officially reported the case to ICPC for further action
15. In November, I was invited by the investigation officer from Nigeria Custom Service to tell my story
16. I was informed by the investigating officer that I have not done anything wrong and that the officer knows that too and that the equipment will be brought to the hospital for me.
17. Since November till date, the equipment is still at the storage which the Nigeria Custom Service has refused to release
18. I have discharged home to die many patients who would have benefited from this equipment.
19. I wanted the government to investigate this claim and appropriate sanction should be applied to this irresponsible officer whose greed has led to death of many indigent patients in Nigeria, yet I have not received any correspondence from them.
This is the story of Nigeria, where thieves have taken up our lives and greed is our religion”

Thank you for patiently reading through.

Many innocent Nigerians lose their lives because of ugly tales like this. Sometimes essential and emergency life-saving drugs are unavailable in the entire country because of the corruption and/or bureaucracy of the Nigerian Custom Service. Yet, import waivers are given to some allegedly corrupt entrepreneurs. How long would ordinary Nigerians continue to suffer from the institutional corruption continually being perpetrated by officers who are supposed to work for our welfare and national interest? 

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Tribute To My Beloved Husband – by Lolo Bianca Ojukwu

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Late Dim Ojukwu

How do I sum up 23 years in one page? I don’t know. How do I describe you? I cannot. Not in any depth. Not for anybody else – you were my husband, my brother, my friend, my child. I was your queen, and it was an honour to have served you.

You were the lion of my history books, the leader of my nation when we faced extinction, the larger-than-life history come to my life – living, breathing legend. But unlike the history books, you defied all preconceptions. You made me cry from laughter with your jokes, many irreverent. You awed me with your wisdom. You melted my heart with your kindness. Your impeccable manners made Prince Charming a living reality. Your fearlessness made you the man I dreamt of all my life and your total lack of seeking public approval before speaking your mind separated you from mere mortals.

Every year that I spent with you was an adventure – no two days were the same. With you, I was finally able to soar on wings wider than the ocean. With you I was blessed with the best children God in heaven had to give. With you, I learnt to face the world without fear and learnt daily the things that matter most. Your disdain for money was novel – sometimes funny, other times quite alarming. It mattered not a whit to you. Your total dedication to your people – Ndi-Igbo – was so absolute that really, very little else mattered. You never craved anybody’s praise as long as you believed that you were doing right and even in the face of utmost danger, you never relented from speaking truth to power – to you, what after all, was power? It was not that conferred by the gun, nor that stolen from the ballot box. No. You understood that power transcended all that. Power is the freedom to be true to yourself and to God, no matter the cost.

It is freedom from fear. It is freedom from bondage. It is freedom to seek the wellbeing of your people just because you love them. It is the ability to move a whole nation without a penny as inducement nor a gun to force them. When an entire nation can rise up for one person for no other reason than that they love him and know he is their leader – sans gun, money, official title or any strange paraphernalia – that is power.

 

To try to contain you in words is futile. You span the breadth of human experience – full of laughter, joy, kindness and sometimes, almost childlike in your ability to find something good in almost everyone and every situation. You could flare up at any injustice and in the next instant, sing military songs to the children. You could analyse a situation with incredible swiftness and accuracy. In any generation, there can only be one like you. You were that one star. You were a child of destiny, born for no other time than the one you found yourself in. Destined to lead your people at the time total extinction was staring us in the face. There was no one else. You gained nothing from it. You used all the resources you had just to wage a war of survival. You fought to keep us alive when we were being slaughtered like rams for no reason. Today, we find ourselves in the same situation but you are not here. You fought that we might live. The truth is finally coming out and even those who fought you now acknowledge that you had no choice. For your faithfulness, God kept you and brought you home to your people.

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Lolo Bianca with her late husband

You loved Nigeria. You spent so much of your waking moments devising ways through which Nigeria could progress to Tai-Two!!! You were the eternal optimist, always hoping that one day, God will touch His people and give us one Vision and the diligence to work towards the dream. It never came to pass in your lifetime. Instead, the disaster you predicted if we continued on the same path has come home to roost. You always saw so clearly. Your words are indelibly preserved for this generation to read and learn and perhaps heed and turn. You always said the dry bones will rise again. But you always hoped we would not become the dry bones by our actions. Above all, you feared for your own people, crying out against the relentless oppression that has not ceased since the end of the war and saddened by the acceptance of this position by your own people. In death, you have awakened the spirit that we thought had died. Your people are finally waking up.

At home, you were the father any child would dream of having. At no point did our children have to wonder where you were. You were ever at their disposal, playing with them, teaching them of a bygone era, teaching them of the world they live in and giving them the total security of knowing you were always present.

In mercy, God gave me a year to prepare for the inevitable. I could never have survived an instant departure. In mercy, God ensured that your final week on earth was spent only with me and that on your last day, you were back to your old self. I cannot but thank God for the joy of that final day – the jokes, the laughter, the songs. It was a lifetime packed into a few hours, filled with hope that many tomorrows would follow and that we would be home for Christmas. You deceived me. You were so emphatic that we would be going home. I did not know you meant a different home. The swiftness of your departure remains shocking to me. You left on the day I least expected. But I cannot fight God. He owns your life and mine. I know that God called you home because every other time it seemed you were at death’s door, you fought like the lion that God made you and always prevailed. In my eyes, even death was no match for you. But who can say ‘no’ to the Almighty God? You walked away with Him, going away with such peace that I can only bow to God’s sovereignty. Your people have remembered. The warrior of our land has gone. The flags are lowered in your honour. Our hearts are laden with grief.

But I will trust that the living God who gave you to me will look after me and our children. Through my sadness, the memories will always shine bright and beautiful. Adieu, my love, my husband, my lion, Ikemba, Amuma na Egbe Igwe, Odenigbo Ngwo. Eze-Igbo Gburugburu, Ibu dike. Chukwu gozie gi, Chukwu debe gi. Anyi ga afu na omesia.

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Bianca is the widow of the Ex-Biafran leader, Late Dim Chukwuemka Odumegwu-Ojukwu