Yobe State, Governor Gaidam and Health Care Delivery by Hassan Gimba

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Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam has been the governor of Yobe State for nine years this year. Throughout those nine years there have been claims from him, his spokesman and those close to him that he has delivered the dividends of democracy to the people the state.
Such claims can be dismissed, because all the encomiums come from one side -his side. Some organisations though have given him awards as ‘best performing’ governor in the areas of health care, prompt payment of pensions, etc. But the problem with us these days is that awards are buyable.
Such plaudits would have been seen as more sincere had they come from the opposition or those sitting on the fence. People will believe the opposition or the neutrals more than acolytes who, in our way of life, don’t talk truth to the man at the head of the table when invited (or hope to be) to ‘eat’. “Bad table manners,” they say.
Likewise, the awards given by bodies can easily be received by whoever has the cash and is not miserly in doling it out. We are living witnesses to the actions of Nigerian governors who received awards as ‘Best Performing Governor in Africa’.
Unfortunately, hardly does the opposition acknowledge any good done by governments, even if they are quick in pointing out the wrongs done by them. This is baffling to many objective observers who want to see nation-building as a co-operative effort.
Because of all these tendencies, one takes with a pinch of the salt claims by spokesmen, political associates and, worse, awards by organisations.
Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam is a man I know quite well from his days as a career civil servant. I know him to be a good, friendly and generous man, but I have never voted for him because I thought he lacked the strong will to break the factors militating against the development of the state and move her forward.
It is with this mindset that I went to Damaturu where I spent 10 days (from February 13 to 23) at a stretch. I have not spent more than three days at a stretch in Damaturu since 2007. I write this, having left Damaturu and back to Gombe.
I was surprised at what I saw in Damaturu. To be frank, the town has undergone a massive transformation. Damaturu used to be a town I know very well, because I had virtually lived there between 1991 and 2007, while practicing journalism.
I now miss my way in the town, because almost all access roads have been paved and government buildings, offices and houses, have been rebuilt or built according to modern standards.
What impressed me more, though (because it was the reason I spent close to two weeks in the state capital), was the health facilities the state has.
Three weeks ago I took my wife who has metastasized cervical cancer to the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, for treatment. Sadly, some complications arose as a result of her compromised lungs and kidneys among others and she had to undergo dialysis. Unfortunately, she was again found to be Hepatitis B-positive and Gombe does not have a dialysis machine dedicated to Hepatitis patients. Dialysis was urgently needed, because the creatinine (toxicity, to a layman) level in her had risen to over 1,200 and she had already lapsed into a coma. Worse, this had to be controlled before they could start cancer treatment, or rather, control.
My surprise started when we were referred to the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital, Damaturu – of all places – for the control. You see, while I was far from convinced, deep down I felt proud. My state has also arrived!
We hired an ambulance and took my comatose wife to Damaturu. Dialysis was started that fateful Tuesday, 13/02 and, after the third session on Thursday we witnessed a remission. She became aware of her environment, started talking and even walking after six days of being in a coma.
The teaching hospital is being superintended by Dr Goni Waru as Chief Medical Officer. Like his late father, the late Goni Sheriff, he is brilliant, kind and considerate – attributes necessary for a medical personnel to be successful.
The dialysis department has state-of-the-art equipment, apart from five machines; one dedicated to Hepatitis patients and one to HIV patients. It is manned by core professional technicians, nurses and consultants.
The hospital is always sparkling clean and its ambulances in good shape with good drivers.
It has not yet started admissions; therefore, patients are taken to the Specialist Hospital for admission. The Specialist hospital is another wonder. It has been upgraded from the General Hospital I knew. New wards have been added, including VIP or side rooms. It is also sparkling clean, with cleaners at work virtually every hour.
Drugs and equipment are not its problem and generators run 24/7. Their ambulances are in good shape and air-conditioned while they have dedicated drivers. Malam Ibrahim readily comes to mind. The Secretary of the Specialist Hospital, Malam Idriss Usman Yusuf, goes round wards, putting things right and looking for problems to be solved.
The doctors are from another planet. What makes one prouder is the fact that they are almost all natives. Doctor Abdullahi Bawa, who was the medical doctor in charge of my wife, was as dedicated and professional as a medical doctor should be. He was very professional and confidence-instilling as well. Incidentally, Dr Lawan Ya’u, who was her student at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Potiskum (he went on to study medicine after his NCE), gave his all to the lecturer who introduced him to tertiary education.
A crop of consultants really gave us hope where there was none. Doctor William Wudiri, a Consultant in Nephrology and Dr Hassan Dogo are two that readily come to mind. I have known both of them for a long time, before, maybe, they dreamt of becoming medical doctors; when they were running around in ‘short knickers’.
I knew William Wudiri as a brash but intelligent boy when he gained admission into Government College Maiduguri in 1979. I was already in form three then. He hasn’t changed much in mannerism, safe for increased knowledge in his field of Nephrology, based on reading and experience.
Consultant Urologist, Dr Dogo, is my in-law, as his elder sister is married to my cousin, Dr Mamman Mohammed, Yobe State’s first Executive Secretary of its Hospitals Management Board. Perhaps Dr Mamman influenced his decision to be a Medical Doctor.
I did not get the opportunity to see the other hospitals in Potiskum, Gashua, Nguru, Geidam and Gujba (some under construction) but I was reliably informed that the administration of the hospitals has been great under the Executive Secretary, Dr Garba Musa Fika.
He has instilled orderliness in the hospitals and respect for timing. Doctors on call are always on time and the Medical Teams that do the rounds, thorough. Personnel-Patient relationship is also commendable.
But all these would have been impossible without the full support of the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam. The buildings would not be there in the first place, talk more of facilities, equipment, drugs and more importantly, personnel. He has proved to have a great will to deliver on promises and serve a people.
In health care delivery, Gaidam has done wonders for Yobe. This, I can testify.

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