Muslim/Muslim ticket

And the Acting Governor choked. Publicly on national TV. He quickly turned away from the camera so watchers would not see eyes that had become laden with tears. He was trying to condole the family of a 41 year-old who was cut in the prime of life in Edo State for no apparent reason other than being a Priest.

But the grieving around him was so heavy, so palpable, with the Priest’s mother so obviously inconsolable, that the Acting Governor was choked with emotion and his words of consolation got stuck in his throat. If his tears were silent and controlled, those of his counterpart in Ondo State were not. He too was trying to console his people in Owo after the gruesome invasion of a Catholic Church. His own tears were profuse. They were prolonged.

These two were by no means the only grieving Governors in recent times. The Governors of Benue, Kaduna, Katsina, Adamawa, Imo and Borno States have all had cause to grieve the loss of their people. But their grief would be vicarious; induced by the sad and sombre situations in which they found themselves.

Or by their utter helplessness in confronting the menace of banditry that has taken a foothold in their domain. It would therefore be nothing compared to the grief of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who have been directly affected – some multiple times – by the wanton blood-letting which has taken over our land.

The First Family – and indeed the nation – would have joined this actively grieving group had the attack on the President’s convoy claimed its prized target. But the sheer audacity of the attack has not escaped the notice of many of us. Neither has the limited national shock or sense of outrage within the polity. This was something that would not have been contemplated during the Obasanjo government barely 20 years ago. But the country seemed to have been numbed today into accepting that virtually anything is now possible.

About twenty-four hours later, an equally audacious and now more successful attack was carried out on the main prison in the nation’s capital. The usual noises were made about apprehending and bringing the perpetrators to justice. The same kind of noises we have heard in the past seven years and beyond. I didn’t think it could be possible given how low the security bar was during the Jonathan Regime, but this administration has consistently lowered whatever bar it inherited. And because nothing meaningful has happened to curb the growing menace, bandits have become more emboldened. Lawlessness and insecurity are finding their way into the once hallowed vicinity of Aso Rock with a tongue-in- cheek call being made on the persons of the President, his Vice and a serving Governor. 

The President cuts a lonely and forlorn figure these days – some would say a pitiable figure – even when he is among his coteries. His slow shuffle is now more pronounced, either from age, stress or failure.

His promises sound hollow – possibly even to himself – as he tries to assure the nation of safety to lives and properties. The desired safety that nobody – except the bandits – seems able to guarantee anymore.

He may be the President, but new rulers are beginning to emerge. They are not members of the shadowy cabal that the media often talk about.    These ones are becoming more brazen by the day. They are the ones who tell us where to go and when to go there. They tell us when to farm and where. They tell us what means of transportation to take and when to take it. They have their own work-free days which are far more effective than declared public holidays.

Communities are beginning to pay tolls and taxes to them. Emirs are starting to turban them either in appeasement or fear. States are yielding portions of land to them. Schools are closed at their behest. They are godless. They hate religion and religiosity but seem to hate Christianity even more. They have arms and ammunitions that shame our defense system. They have intelligence that seems to embarrass our intelligence network. They live in bushes but have ears within and without. They strike at whatever and whomever catches their fancy either for ransom or to establish sovereignty or both.

Long before things got this bad, patriots talked about re-jigging our security personnel and bringing our best hands to man sensitive security positions. But the powers that be believed more in loyalty than competence. Now it has neither competence nor loyalty. People have longed called for State policing. But people who are at the helm of Federal affairs dwell more on its disadvantages than the advantages. In reality, it is probably because they don’t want to cede such a powerful means of control and coercion to component parts.

Even Governors who have barely months to go have realized the folly of their opposition and are coming late to State or multi-layered policing table. But the Attorney General – he must be called out – and his ilk are still recalcitrant. Their denial of the present reality and refusal to accede to State policing beggar belief. They remind me of a monkey who finds a nut in a jar. It slips its hand in to take it out but finds it cannot take its clenched fist out. Realizing it is staying too long and could be captured, the desperate monkey applies more effort. Whereas the only solution, the only way of survival for it,is to unclench its fist, let the nut go and free its hand.

We appeal to the Federal Government to unclench its fist around the security nut and let the best hands, wherever they are found, to man various security units. People who would be held accountable – for success or failure. The Federal Government should allow multi-layered policing. These initiatives could lead to our surviving these perilous times as a nation.

Let the State Governors have the tools to fight the terrors that walk their streets at night and arrows that fly in the day time. After all, they are the Chief Security Officers of their States. It is obvious the current security apparatus in the country where the Police Commissioner in Owo reports to Abuja is no longer working. Unless of course somebody has read too many Robert Ludlum books and believes violence on the scale we are currently witnessing can be contrived and managed for use in serving a desired but nefarious goal. Such a fellow would be riding a tiger by the tail.

“The three institutions are the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, OAUTHC, and Tristate to form the training institution to be known as LOT. We are signing an MoU to this effect and that is huge. It will help us to advance the training of surgeons and that will bring down the cost of training further.

Down memory lane

“When we wanted to begin open heart surgery at TriState, the people that could afford the surgery did not want to be our guinea pigs while those that did not have money were ready. At that time, to do open heart surgery cost between N2.0 – 3.0 million. I paid $2,500 for a patient because we had to show Nigerians that we could do this. We had to do it for those that did not have the money. The first 75 cases that we treated either had no money or could only pay the minimum.

“In the first two years after Tristate began doing open heart surgery, we did not make any money. In fact, we could not pay any expatriates because the exchange rate that year went from N175 to N520. There were about 13 of them, but we moved on.

“As at 2021, we had done about 124 open heart surgeries, excluding the non-open heart surgeries. The total number of cases that we handled is close to about 600. Now we have seen that the medical tourism story is gradually changing because these medical interventions are being done right here.”

Future prospects

“I want to see the cardiac programme grow. Our aim is to achieve accessibility, affordability, and quality care. We must have a hospital that is within reach of everyone in the country. We started at Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ogun State, and then went to Ado Ekiti at the Afe Bablola University, ABUAD, and after a year, we had done about 36 surgeries. The following year we were at Reddington Hospital and did the first open heart surgery there, and then continued.

“At the Duchess Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos State, the 5th floor is called the Duchess-Tristate Heart Institute. We moved to the Lekki on December 9, 2021, put everything together in the operating room, and two months ago, we began open heart surgery here.

“In two months we have done 20 surgeries. The first case we had was a 15 -year-old boy called Kassim. He is alive and well. His surgery started at 5 pm and ended at 5 am the following day. The youngest procedure that we have done was on a 13-day-old baby. It is also the longest. We started at 10 15 am and finished at 5.15 am the following day.”

The professor of cardiology Close to seven specialist centres in Nigeria are now carrying out open heart surgery. This is the beginning for Nigeria and if we do all these things well we do not need to go abroad again. What people thought was impossible is actually possible. Our goal is to save life first. Our mission is being accomplished.

“Most of the lives of people we have saved are those unable to pay out of pocket, that is why health insurance is essential. Cash and carry healthcare must go. Nigeria is better off medically today than in the recent past, this is reality. Give us another five years, the health care system will be booming.”

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