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Railway project: Iwuanyanwu, Ohanaeze, MASSOB, CLO decry exclusion of S’East

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  • We didn’t exclude zone from project –Ministry of Transportation

 

Eminent personalities, including businessman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, yesterday led other regional bodies such as the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Nidgbo; and the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), to berate the Federal Government over the alleged exclusion of the South-East zone from the ongoing Chinese multi-billion naira railway project by the current administration. The outcry followed complaints by Senators from the South-East zone who lamented that the region was excluded from the railway project.

It was gathered that the Senate following this outcry summoned the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to appear before its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on Tuesday to explain reasons for the alleged exclusion of the South-East zone. Speaking with our correspondent in Owerri, Imo State, Iwuanyanwu expressed regret over the distribution of Nigeria’s commonwealth without recourse to the South-East.

He said: “Nigeria is taking a huge loan facility running into many billions of Naira for the said project and this loan will be repaid by all of us, so it is mean-spirited and unfair to exclude the South-East from benefitting from the railway project.

“If you take a closer look at the deployment of most of the major loan facilities obtained for developmental purposes, you will notice that they are hardly applied in the South- East. So, I am in full support of our Senators and urging them to hold their ground and insist that the right thing be done.”

Iwuanyanwu, who stated that the Federal Character provision in the 1999 Constitution meant nothing to these people that are denigrating the entity called Nigeria, said such an action had necessitated the prevalent nature of lopsided policies.

He said: “For them, the Federal Character provision only applies when it does not favour the South-East. Check all the loans obtained so far; whether it is for industry, infrastructure, railway or whatever, the South-East is largely excluded.

“So, when we complain about this unwholesome trend, the Federal Government should understand that it is such brazen acts of marginalisation that is fuelling agitations across the country. FG must begin to live up to its responsibilities and obligations to this singular entity called Nigeria and not to any groupings of people to the exclusion of others.” “All we want is our fair share of our commonwealth and that is not too much to ask for in a country we have invested so much in material, human resources and blood,” he said.

Commenting also, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, in a statement issued in Enugu, said there was absolutely no plan for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri or Eastern rail line, which traverses Port Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Oturpko, Igumale, Makurdi, Kafanchan, Kuru, Bauchi, Gombe and all the way to Maiduguri. According to him, the recent exclusion of the Southeast region of the country from the ongoing Railway lines in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly seeking the approval of $5.185billion China-Exim Bank loan is the height of injustice meted on the people from the zone. Nwodo, who expressed dismay said the next set of railway development would take care of the South-East, is not worth a pinch of salt.

“The exclusion of the South-East, North-East, and parts of North-Central is a clear breach of the Federal character principle as captured in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty. “Importantly, these railway projects are all funded by loans payable by every part of Nigeria.

At this rate, therefore, the present and future gen-eration of South-East, North- East, and North-Central will end up paying for loans they did not benefit from, ” he said. In its contribution, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) chided Amaechi for neglecting Ndigbo in the railway project. MASSOB said since his appointment as a minister, Amaechi has taken the issues of Biafra agitation, agitators and shortchanging the national interest that will favour Igbo interest as the only entertainment of his APC masters. In a statement, MASSOB national leader, Uchenna Madu, stated that Amaechi had thrown caution to the winds in sabotaging the desire and wish of all Igbos, including his kinsmen.

“Any man who knowingly and consciously satisfies and justifies the evil conscience of his people’s oppressors is a murderer. Has Chibuike Amaechi who claimed that the people of Eastern Region are better and comfortable in Buhari’s administration condemned the many killings, harassment, intimidation and genocide by armed Fulani Herdsmen against the people of Eastern region? “We wish to remind Amaechi that his appointment by Buhari as a minister is just temporary and irrespective of his errand gallantry for President Buhari, APC will replace him soon with a Hausa Fulani man.

“MASSOB warned that politicians should stop playing politics with the destiny and aspirations of their people.” Reacting, the Chairman of the Aba Unit of the CLO, Dr. Charles Chinekezi, condemned the omission of the South-East geopolitical zone among the beneficiaries of the proposed railway project. Speaking with Saturday Telegraph on the development, Chinekezi said: “If someone in the ministry of transport cannot remember the vibrancy the railway gave to the economy of Nigeria, the ease it gave to transportation and also do not understand why the new railway system should cut across all parts of the country, including South-East, then the person is not fit for that position.

“This omission will certainly build more pressure for this government here in South-East as it has sent very wrong signals to people over here. People who must be in high policy areas of government must be properly exposed, educated and linked to the direct society they serve.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Transportation yesterday clarified that the South-East zone was not excluded from the Federal Government’s ongoing rail projects. A statement issued by the Director of Public Relations, Yetunde Sonaike, said the ministry was embarking on two major rail projects in the country. She said the ongoing rail projects were the Coastal Rail Project from Lagos-Calabar and the Lagos-Kano rail lines.

“The Federal Ministry of Transportation wishes to state clearly that the South- East geopolitical zone has not been excluded from the Federal Government ongoing rail projects. “The two major rail projects of the Federal Government are the Coastal Rail Project from Lagos-Calabar, which will traverse Lagos- Sagamu-Ore-Benin City- Sapele-Warri-Yenogoa with siding to Otuoke-Port Harcourt- Aba-Uyo-Calabar and branch line from Benin City – Abudu-Onitsha, including Onitsha rail bridge.

“Lagos-Kano rail project will traverse Lagos-Abeokuta- Ibadan-Osogbo-Ilorin- Jebba-Minna-Kaduna-Zaria- Kano, with branch line from Minna-Abuja and Abuja- Kaduna.” Sonaike said the loan from China Exim Bank would be used to fund the three segments from the two major rail projects which were Lagos- Ibadan, Kano-Kaduna and Lagos- Kano.

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Dapchi Girls: Ortom identifies with Yobe govt over missing schoolgirls 

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Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has identified with the government and people of Yobe State over the missing schoolgirls of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi.

The governor expressed optimism that the schoolgirls will soon be found and reunited with their families.

Governor Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase described the incident as traumatic especially for parents and relations of the schoolgirls, urging security agencies to ensure that the rest of the girls are rescued from the hands of their abductors.

He said the development in Yobe came as a shock to him adding that any attack on children is an attack on the future of the country.

Governor Ortom further assured that the people of Benue State will continue to pray for the families in Yobe whose children are yet to return following the attack on the school.

He states that insecurity in any part of the country should be the concern of every Nigerian and call for timely and useful information made available to security agencies to enable them to live up to their expectations.

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PHOTOS: Olu of Warri visits Buhari

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The Olu of Warri Kingdom, His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwole, leading members of his cabinet to the Presidential Villa for a meeting with President Muhammadu on Friday.

 

 

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Hospital ‘imprisons’ nursing mothers, babies over bills

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  • Partner abandons teenage mother at facility

 

I do not have money to pay. Besides, the loss of the baby is depressing for me. I even begged them to consider my dead baby and empathise with me by reducing the bill, but they rejected all the appeals – Mrs. Funmulayo Adegboye, a petty trader

 

 

Eight women, who were newly delivered of babies, have been detained at the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, Lagos over their inability to pay accrued hospital bills arising from delivery services. Consequent upon this detention, the movement of the affected women has been restricted to the premises of the Maternity and Child Complex (MCC) domiciled at the Alimosho General Hospital.

The women, who often wear uniforms provided by the hospital, are closely monitored by security officials on duty who ensure that they are always restricted within the MCC. Investigation by New Telegraph shows that it is not only security officials that monitor the detained patients, even nurses on duty keep an eye on the patients anytime any of them steps out of the ward where they are being held.

One of the detained women, Fati Mohammed, had now been abandoned by her spouse owing to the couple’s inability to pay baby delivery service fee. Also detained are Mrs. Anna Ifoga, who is a petty trader; Mrs. Funmilayo Adegboye, also a petty trader, and Mrs. Basirat Kosoko.

According to reliable sources, appeal made to the hospital management by the trio of Funmilayo’s husband, Basirat’s father-in-law and Anna Ifoga, last Friday, seeking for them to be released on bond to enable them pay the outstanding bills by instalment while on release, was rejected by the hospital. According to the detained women, staff of the Welfare Unit, who intervened on their behalf, told the patients that the hospital management insisted that each of them must pay the outstanding bills before they would be allowed to go home. Although they had been discharged after baby delivery, they would not leave the premises of the hospital until they settled their bills.

Speaking to New Telegraph, Basirat’s father-in-law regretted that his son, who is Basirat’s husband is out of job, hence was unable to raise money to pay the N149,000 bill for taking delivery of his baby through caesarean section.

However, Basirat’s fatherin- law initially paid N98,000, leaving a balance of N51,000 to be settled later. Both Basirat and the newly delivered baby were held in the health facility in Igando for two weeks until Monday, February 19, when her father-in-law rallied fam-ily and friends to pay the balance of N51,000. On her part, Funmilayo, who also delivered her baby through caesarean section, was rushed to Alimosho General Hospital on emergency. She lost the baby three days after it was delivered.

However, she was given a bill of N103,000. Although her husband, Mr. Adegboye, had paid N15,000, his appeal to the hospital through the Welfare Unit, was similarly rejected. The detained Funmilayo still has an outstanding bill of N88,000 to settle. Adegboye said his appeal to get the N103,000 bill reviewed downward was rejected by the hospital management. He said: “I have tried to raise money to no avail. I am very disturbed about the way the hospital staff are treating my wife now.

“Presently, my wife has been chased away from the hospital bed; she has been sleeping on a chair in the last four days. They no longer allow her to sleep on the bed. “Although she is not also being served food, hospital staff said both the bills for the two daily meals served to patients at the cost of N800 at N400 per meal and the N250 daily for the bed space will continue to run.

“I do not have money to pay. Besides, the loss of the baby is depressing for me. The baby had died in my wife’s womb even before the surgery was done. “I even begged them to consider my dead baby and empathise with me by reducing the bill, but they rejected all the appeals.”

Funmilayo has been ‘detained’ for two weeks. On her part, Anna has paid N118,000 of the N160,000 bill for caesarean section delivery, remaining a balance of N42,000. She has been held in the hospital for one month because of her inability to pay the balance of N42,000. Relating her ordeal, Anna told New Telegraph that she had gone through labour for two days at the Ikotun home of a traditional birth attendant (TBA) and owing to the delayed delivery; she was rushed on emergency to the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando where it was found that the baby had died in her womb.

Similarly, days after the caesarean surgery, it was found that the stitched stomach had collapsed, through which the open wound was emitting pus. She said: “I was taken into the theatre again where the medical doctors stitched the wound for the second time.

“The stiches have, however, healed now, but I have not been released to go home because of my outstanding bills.” Of all the detained women, Fati Mohammed’s case is the most pathetic. She has been in the hospital for over two months.

Fati, who is from Baga in Borno State, does not know her real age, but appeared to be under 20 years. Going by the turn of events, Fati, whose baby also died even before the caesarean surgery was carried out, may have been abandoned to her fate, considering that neither the man who impregnated her, Diri, nor any of those who rushed her to the hospital has been coming to the hospital to check on her.

It is not clear how much has accrued as her total bill for the caesarean section. Although, the baby died, Fati is lucky to have survived. Relating her ordeal, Fati said she fled Borno State after her husband was slaughtered by Boko Haram members. Also, she said she did not know where the only son of that relationship was presently.

Fati followed others who were fleeing from Boko Haram in Borno, in a trailer to Lagos State and on getting to Lagos, however, she cohabited with some Hausa-speaking people at Alaba in Ojo area of Lagos, where a young Hausa indigene, driving commercial motorcycle, later impregnated her. She said after falling into labour for two days, she was rushed to the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, where it was found that her baby had died in her womb. Hence, the surgical operation was conducted on her and the dead baby removed. She said: “I did not attend any antenatal throughout the nine months of the pregnancy. However, when labour set in, I laboured for two days but could not be delivered of the baby.”

The caesarean surgery conducted on her to remove the dead baby at the Alimosho General Hospital was successful, but she has not been able to settle the bill. When asked how much the bill amounted to, she said only the nurses could say.

The sad aspect of it is that after visiting Fati on a few occasions but could not pay the bill, Diri, Fati’s spouse stopped further visits to check on her. Presently, Fati disclosed that the man who impregnated her had absconded. Both Fati’s father and mother were killed by the Boko Haram insurgents way back before she arrived Lagos. On how she has survived in the last two months that the hospital management restricted her movement, Fati explained that the hospital had been kind enough to be giving her food daily. She said the meal of patients who could not eat due to health challenge, was sometimes given to her, considering that she had no other source of food or income.

“Sometimes, when some patients cannot eat their food, they will give me the food. I also beg for water to drink,” Fati said. Efforts to get the reaction of the Public Relations Officer of Alimosho General Hospital failed. However, a reliable source in the hospital told New Telegraph that most of the patients being held for inability to pay their bills, were unbooked patients.

They were referred cases from other hospitals brought in on emergency, which the facility responded to, saving their lives, based on its Motto: ‘Patient First’. According to the source, if they had come to the Alimosho General Hospital from the onset of their medical care, especially in care of antenatal, “that way, at least 50 per cent of their bill would have been paid before delivery.”

The source said the hospital battled to save their lives before asking for money. “In order to extend life-saving services to patients on emergency too, the hospital needs to have recurring cash for that,” the source added.

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