By Okonkwo Eugene Chukwudi
Please permit me to publicly declare to fellow Nigerians that all hope is not lost. That our country Nigeria can and will definitely do a lot better if, but only if, the majority of our people would permit integrity, discipline and dedication to duty to dictate their attitude to public service.
We make this declaration based on what we saw at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH.
During the better part of two months we saw at the UBTH, a public health institution wherein everything seemed to be working. We saw a Teaching Hospital evidently striving for excellence, with virtually all facilities working and most staff-from the learned consultants to the cleaners, gardeners and security men – all applying themselves to their duties with such dedication as is not commonly seen elsewhere in Nigeria.
We saw a Teaching Hospital whose consultants seem content to serve the hospital exclusively with only one or two of 35 or so consultants operating private clinics! Again and again we saw the staff, including the consultants, scurrying to their offices/consulting rooms early and remaining at work until official closing hours. Indeed, it was quite intriguing. Any wonder the myriads of patients who besiege this hospital daily from all nooks and corners of the old Bendel Area and beyond, do actually get attended. And no patient is diverted to any clinics outside—one of the banes of many Teaching Hospitals.
During our 12 days at the Men’s Surgical Ward II not only was there light all day long, the lights shone bright all night long! There was running water at the conveniences, at different corners in the ward and, most impressively, at strategic points all around the out-Patient Areas- sometimes with liquid soap to booth!. We saw a determination to keep the ward sparkling clean, with several cleaners working almost round the clock. We saw well-kept lawns and hedges all combining to given the hospital such a pleasant ambience.
The money paid for a bed space covered every essential need of the patient including food; the meals were provided religiously faithfully! Hence, one couldn’t but feel comfortable, even at home-in a hospital ward! We saw a public health institution evidently well-managed. We must accordingly commend the administrators of the hospital-past, immediate past and present, for doing a great job of administration. We can only hope the laudable tradition endures.
As to those dedicated medical and non-medical personnel of the various departments especially Urology – the learned consultants, resident doctors (when not on strike), senior and junior nurses, even cleaners especially of the MSWII and COPD – we have nothing but admiration and gratitude. They exhibited diligence, courtesy and humanity.
The UBTH is proof positive that Nigeria can indeed work even with our political quagmire – if only our people in all public institutions-hospitals, university campuses, Government Secretariats, offices, establishments and agencies of all kinds-would sit up and do the work for which they are paid. Things will work when those in positions of authority and power from ministers/commissioners down to directors and deputy directors, management level officers in all sectors of the Nigerian political economy-consciously dedicate themselves to their duties in accordance with the law, giving ALL of their attention, energies and skill during normal working hours in fulfillment of their official functions.
Nigeria will prosper when Nigerians especially in the public services eschew rank indiscipline, dishonesty, naked greed and avarice, corruption in all its ramifications and disloyalty to the common good; and consciously choose to stop cheating but give their best to the system. In most of North America, Europe and South East Asia, they have since attained this ideal. Here in Nigeria, the University of Benin Teaching Hospital is admirably blazing the trail.
We congratulate the management and entire staff of this Centre of Excellence and wish them more grease to their elbows!
- Chukwudi is resident in Awka.