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Attah/Akpabio: Time for mediation (2)

By DELE SOBOWALE
To assist the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, to serve us better, we built and completed a dialysis centre and donated 17 dialysis machines for renal treatment — Governor Godswill Akpabio, in Nigerian Tribune, June 10, 2009, page 21.

IN the first part of this series, I have pointed out that the disagreement between Attah and Akpabio is mostly technical and quite a great deal of it can be verified. Let me start with the 2009 Democracy Day broadcast by Governor Akpabio, in which, among others, he made the claim above.

To Attah, like several others were calculated to rubbish the achievements of 1999 to 2007. In fact, I read the address in the Tribune before becoming aware that there was an on-going dispute between the governor and his predecessor – Attah. Later I read Attah’s published letter and the “noise” that followed. I still think there is room for mediation. But, let us get the facts on the table first.

The first thing that struck me about the address, as published by the newspaper, was the fact that the claim about 17 dialysis machines was repeated twice. I had at the time remarked that Akpabio must have sloppy script writers to have made that mistake.

Then, I became alarmed for several reasons. First, about six months before that address, I had visited the Uyo Teaching Hospital and also had visited the dialysis unit which would have been completely isolated if not for the corridor linking it with the women’s wing. It is located diagonally across the untarred road from the 2003-2005 ETF intervention project building.

The building is a small one with facilities for at most six dialysis units and all these were paid for before Attah left office. Was it possible that the dialysis unit had been expanded since 2007 to accommodate 17 dialysis machines? And if not where are the machines? To answer these questions, I had to go to Uyo again and to visit the unit on June 16, 2009.

Surprisingly, the small building is still there and the four dialysis machines are still in place and there is no way 17 machines can fit into the unit. The question is, has the governor been misinformed by his commissioner for health about this matter? This is vital because a governor’s integrity depends on the veracity of his pronouncements.

And just in case you think this is a figment of my imagination alone, let me refer you to an unsolicited letter to the Nigerian Tribune of June 8, 2009 by Dr. Dickson Ephraim of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu.

According to Dr Ephraim. “Again, Governor Akpabio, in his recent interview with journalists, claimed that he donated 17 dialysis equipment to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. I was at a time associated with that institution and I am aware that the building there can accommodate only six of such equipment; four of which were provided by the previous administration.

The question is, if 17 of such equipment were made available by Akpabio’s government, as noted by the governor, where could these have been installed? He should check his facts; it could be that his commissioner for health has given him wrong information”.

Dr. Ephraim need not worry, I can confirm that the dialysis unit does not have 17 machines installed. And that was one of Attah’s complaints, which Akpabio’s sycophants did not want the public to know about. Where are the 17 dialysis machines – if at all they were ordered and paid for?

Unfortunately, that was not the only part of the governor’s address which could be proved to be inaccurate or exaggerated. In fact there are more than a dozen “inaccuracies” in that address alone. It would be hasty to declare that the governor deliberately attempted to deceive. But, those providing him information and the “journalists” he addressed stand condemned. If I could travel all the way from Lagos to Uyo to verify the truth, what were all those “journalists” doing in Uyo if they fail to verify a simple declaration like that?
To be continued…..

Another look at Nigerian banks (2)

Three Nigerian banks have so far made provisions for loan losses, mostly margin loans of about N76.8bn —The Punch, July 21, 2009

The truth shall make you free, but first it shall make you miserable —Anonymous, Vanguard Book of Quotations, p 253).

HAVE you heard of the Olagunju complex? Probably not. It is my own conceptual creation based on a true story of one Mr Olagunju.

The man made history in the 1950s by being the first Nigerian to win 75,000 pounds sterling (or N18 billion in today’s economic value) playing the pools just introduced to Nigeria at the time. Before fortune struck, Olagunju was a bicycle renter and repairer who never until that time counted up to two hundred naira at a time – and perhaps not even in a week.

All of a sudden, he went and collected a cheque for N18 billion – all his own. Then he went berserk!
Olagunju, bought several luxury cars at once; procured parcels of land from 419ers of those days and lost them; he established businesses he could not manage; and, of course, he married several wives – all in the belief that fortune that size could never finish.

Ten to fifteen years, or so, after, Olagunju was again as poor as a church mouse – may be even poorer. The wives disappeared; among other acquisitions.

If you are wondering what this has to do with Nigerian banks in 2009, then you need to attend a course in rapid thinking at Jankara University where people acquire street wisdom at its best. In part one of this series, I told you that “the party is over”.

Most of you did not understand the implications. So, let me tell you starting with some history of banking in Nigeria. And I am not talking about ancient history. It is history as recent as 2004.

On the day that “consolidation,”as the policy requesting banks to raise their paid up capital to N25 billion, or “get lost”, was introduced, the banks with the highest paid up capital were First Bank and Union Bank; each with N35 billion in paid up capital. UBA came third with N20.5 billion; Zenith had N16.6 billion and Oceanic stood at N7.0 billion.

The combined paid up capital of twenty six banks stood at N73.8 billion; that was N3.04 billion less than the debt provisions recently made by just three banks –Ecobank Transnational Incorporated; First Bank and Oceanic International Bank alone.

Stop press

JUST as this article was about to be sent to the Editor, Zenith Bank announced N18.5 billion write off on margin loans; that brings the total to N95.3 billion by just four banks. That is N5 billion more than the total paid up capital of the top three in 2004 before consolidation. When, did we derail from a good idea?


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.