It is unmistakable that Yobe State is going through fundamental transformations. Long considered an outlier in the nation’s socio-economic milieu, a situation made worse by six years of crippling Boko Haram insurgency, the state is now basking in unprecedented energy as key social sectors, such as healthcare, agriculture, water and sanitation, education, roads, etc. grow to capacity in the service of the people.
It’s all thanks to the dedicated effort of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam. As an accountant and auditor who understands the value of a balanced sheet and the economics of save-and-invest as opposed to that of borrow-and-spend, Governor Gaidam is doing Yobe proud by deploying and transforming lean resources into making big impacts in the lives of the people of the state.
A key sector that attracts the world’s attention to Yobe today is healthcare. It is one of the sectors that was hardest hit by the six-year Boko Haram insurgency. However, due to the governor’s determination, the healthcare sector in Yobe State has remained resilient during the tempests of those years and has now moved from resilience to strength.
It all actively began in early 2013. On an inspection visit to the State Specialist Hospital, Damaturu, Governor Gaidam was so appalled by decrepit conditions and lack of basic facilities in the hospital that he decided to declare a state-of-emergency across the entire health sector.
The objective of the declaration was to return to the drawing board, re-think healthcare delivery practices and put forward all the measures necessary to make the sector work again – so that a weak healthcare system that does not deliver is transformed into an active, functional patient-care system that is accessible and affordable to the people.
And the measures worked. Today, because of those efforts, a brand new Yobe State University Teaching Hospital (YSUTH) built by the Gaidam administration has become the crown jewel of the state’s tertiary healthcare.
In addition, massive investments in the sector had five general hospitals across the state totally rehabilitated and expanded with equipping well underway. These are the State Specialist Hospital Damaturu and the General Hospitals in Potiskum, Gashu’a, Gaidam and Damagum towns. General Hospitals Jakusko and Dapchi have also been rehabilitated.
With some of the best and most modern equipment to boot, the hospitals that were rebuilt and rehabilitated by the Gaidam administration have thus been enabled and empowered to deliver the best possible care to patients.
But more significant is the massive recruitment of well-trained healthcare personnel to manage the delivery of care. In the recent past, the Gaidam administration has brought on board more than five hundred consultants, medical officers, nurses, and other professionals to work at YSUTH and other hospitals in the state.
For these and other interventions, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the umbrella association for all medical and dental practitioners in the country, yesterday in Damaturu presented the governor with an award of excellence for his “outstanding reform” of the healthcare sector. The NMA Yobe Chapter award was presented by the association’s National President, Prof. Mike Ogrima.
This is clearly an honour well deserved. It is an affirmation of what the people of Yobe State already know to be true – that under Governor Gaidam, Yobe operates a vibrant, benevolent and working healthcare system. It’s the view shared by pregnant women who report in hospitals for ante-natal and post-natal care and get treated for free; of accident victims who get free treatment during the first 48 hours of admission in hospital; of VVF patients who have seen an entire medical facility dedicated exclusively to their care.
The NMA award also affirms what Yobe’s development partners, including the Bill and Melinda Gates and Dangote Foundations, have been saying about Governor Ibrahim Gaidam’s commitment as a responsive and responsible partner working with them to stamp out polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Governor Gaidam plans to sustain these accomplishments by creating the conditions that guarantee growth and continuity, and a steady supply of medical doctors and professionals who will manage the healthcare sector in the years to come. In a year or two from now, for instance, many of the over 400 students sponsored by the administration to study medicine in institutions of higher learning within and outside the country will begin to graduate and head home to Yobe to begin careers in the service of the state.
But, more significantly, by building a new College of Medical Sciences and starting off a medical degree at the Yobe State University by the 2018 academic year, Governor Gaidam has boldly and proudly entered his name for posterity as the ‘modernizer’ and ‘enabler’ of modern healthcare in Yobe State.
There is something telling – and remarkably inspiring – about the awards that the governor had received so far. From the one conferred on him by the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) in Sokoto two weeks ago for his effort in maternal, new-born and child care, to the award conferred by the Chartered Institute of Mediators and Conciliators (CICM) in Abuja a week ago for “using post-conflict dispute resolution interventions and peace building to manage the aftermath of Boko Haram insurgency” to the NMA award yesterday, there is a sense of weight, originality and profundity to the way the governor is recognized.
These awards affirm that while Governor Gaidam is not an attention-seeker, his work for and on behalf of the people of the state is surely noticed far and near. Statesmanship could not get any clearer.
In the end, while the NMA award may have capped the recognition that Governor Gaidam has received for improving Yobe’s healthcare sector, the honour can only serve to ginger him more.
In fiscal year 2018 and the reminder of its term, the Gaidam administration will continue to invest to further strengthen the sector and make quality and affordable healthcare even more accessible to people throughout the state.
Bego is the spokesman of Yobe State Governor. He wrote this piece from Damaturu, Yobe State.