Nigerians from different parts the country on Friday poured encomia on President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State as they gathered at the premises of the former Federal Medical Centre, Owerri to formally unveil the place with its new status as Federal University Teaching Hospital, Owerri.
Those who spoke – the now Chief Medical Director of Federal University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Kingsley Achigbu, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri ( FUTO), Prof (Mrs.) Nnenna N. Oti, the Chairman Governing Board of FUTO, Sen. Jack Tilley- Gyado,
the Chairman of the Board of the Federal University Teaching Hospital, Senator(Dr) IsHaq Salman, the Minister of State, Health, Barr. Joseph Nkama-Ekumankama, among others, lauded the good relationship between President Buhari and Governor Uzodimma that made the unveiling possible.
Even Governor Uzodimma in his remarks did not hide his feelings regarding the unusual attention President Buhari gave to him while he was seeking to have the former FMC upgraded to a Teaching Hospital that will serve the needs of FUTO medical school and the medical and other people of Imo State.
Governor Uzodimma said: “Today’s event which is the formal inauguration of the Federal University Teaching Hospital, Owerri, is a product of our collaboration with the federal government. It was planted and nurtured by our administration as a sign of our commitment to offer quality healthcare to Imo people. Before now, our people have had to travel long distances to enjoy some of these services with the attendant difficulties with distant travel and dislocation from one’s comfort zone.
“it is therefore with a heart full of gratitude that I commend the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Honourable Minister of Health, and his colleague the Minister of State for Health, who is also a brother and other officials who have made this dream a reality.
” In addition to complementing our efforts at Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu, this institution offers Imo people the much needed employment opportunities with commensurate impact on the economy of the state.
“This institution, therefore, brings with it lots of opportunities to Imo residents, aside the traditional benefits of first class healthcare which we hope will complement the policies of the Imo State government. In addition to supporting the College of Medicine of FUTO, this establishment is also empowered by law to run a number of other training schools most of which provide the much needed skilled manpower for health institutions within the State and beyond. These include the School of Nursing, School of Anaesthetic Technology, School of Dental Technology, etc. These schools offer mostly OND equivalent certification and provide career pathways for our young people. By the affiliation with FUTO, the University can now introduce more graduate courses in health disciplines such as the BNSC degree in nursing.
“We do know that while it remained a Federal Medical Centre, the hospital’s performance was top notch in all areas of its tripartite mandate. Its reputation was comparable to that of other tertiary hospitals of its kind. In fact, it could easily have been ranked about the biggest FMC in the country both in stature and scope of services offered.
“However, its upgrade to a teaching hospital offers a bigger platform for collaborations and the ability to attract and retain the highest level of skilled manpower in health. This is easily because most of the specialists, especially those who have attained the cadre of Medical Consultants, often desire the academic fulfilment which can only be gained from a teaching hospital such as this.
“Since its inception about a century ago, this institution has undergone some metamorphosis. Over this period, it has been quite pivotal in the delivery of good quality healthcare to residents of Imo State and neighbouring States. I must, therefore, commend the present management of the hospital under the leadership of the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Kingsley Achigbu and the Board of Management for restoring peace and order to this institution. They also deserve commendation for their achievements in the area of human capital development and for attracting vital infrastructure to the institution.
“As a Government, we have enjoyed a cordial and collaborative relationship with the Federal Teaching Hospital even while it was a Federal Medical Centre. A good example is the collaboration in the fight against the COVID-19 scourge which confronted the state soon after my assumption of office. To the glory of God, this collaboration was instrumental to the relatively excellent showing by our state in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The long history of its existence, growth in clientele and expansion of services expectedly throws up some unique challenges in the form of inadequate infrastructure, ageing equipment and old buildings. It is worthy of note that a number of colonial – style buildings still dot some parts of the hospital. The infrastructure deficit is expected to be further compounded by the requirements of the medical school. For example, clinical students will not only be quartered in the hospital, but will need other facilities, including lecture halls, library and cafeteria. It is, therefore, reassuring that one of the activities for today is the foundation laying – ceremony of an e-library project for the medical school.
“In that regard, I urge the Honourable Minister of Health and the Hon. Minister of Education to take cognizance of the aforementioned challenges and take steps to address them. I want to thank the Federal Ministry of Health for their support for the hospital so far, especially with the kind donation of a new oxygen plant to the centre among other initiatives. But I am made to understand that there is a need for certain sophisticated equipment like CT Scan, MRI, CAT Lab. and many others required by the hospital to be able to deliver 21st century health care delivery. It is my hope that you will adopt this particular hospital as your baby, especially for its unique history and symbolism.
“At this juncture, let me appreciate some Imo sons and daughters who have supported the hospital in the past by attracting projects to the Centre. Let me add that your support is even needed more today. I am told by the CMD of a plan to erect a hall of fame to showcase and acknowledge these individuals for their gestures.
“The issue of brain drain of some of our best professionals is a painful reality. Tertiary hospitals that employ most of our best hands are, therefore, mostly affected. As painful as it may seem, these movements of staff are often without warning or at best at very short notice. This way, hospitals are almost helpless at times, depending on the quality of staff lost. I, therefore, call on the FMOH and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and budget to enable such sensitive institutions as FUTH to replace cadre for cadre so that such exited staff can be replaced with minimum delay.
“The management of the Teaching Hospital had requested a land space to accommodate some infrastructural development to meet the needs of the FUTO Medical School and accommodate the expansion of other services. Let me end my address, by re – assuring you that my government will continue to be favourably disposed to assisting the institution in achieving its core mandate.”
The Governor, thereafter, proceeded to lay the foundation of the E-library, accompanied by Dr. Achigbu, Prof Oti, Senator Tilley-Gyado, Dr. Salman, Barr Nkama- Ekumankama, among other dignitaries.
Earlier, the dignitaries had taken turns to appreciate President Buhari and Governor Uzodimma.
In his welcome address, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Kingsley I. Achigbu announced that the event was quite remarkable “as it will offer the much-needed support for the Federal University of Technology Owerri Medical School to complete its accreditation process, train and enable licensing of its medical graduates without which these will not be possible.”
Dr Achigbu noted the significant role played by the Governor in attracting the new teaching hospital to Imo state.
His words: “Anyone who understands the workings of government and the painstaking process of getting approval for such an upgrade by Mr President knows that this could not have happened by just mere application. What we are witnessing today took the political sagacity and push of the Governor of Imo State, the Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodimma and his team.”
The Chief Medical Director continued: “The ancillary training schools to be established by our teaching hospital will in no small measure contribute to education, training and empowerment of Imo youths and Nigerians in general, a key focus of the present administration in Imo State under our amiable Governor. It is not in doubt that the anticipated impact of the Teaching Hospital coupled with the present policy thrust of your administration in health promises to give Imo State a quantum leap in health and human-related developmental indices very shortly.”
Dr Achigbu reminded the audience that “Under the hands-on leadership style of the hard-working Imo State Governor, the performance of Imo State in the Covid-19 era attracted wide commendation with Imo State posting arguably one of the best outcomes in the country. When the full story shall be told, Governor Uzodimma will have his place in history.”
In her speech, the Vice Chancellor of FUTO, Prof. Oti noted that she feels humbled that the many years of efforts to have FUTO also function as a medical college was realised under her watch, s development she described as “epic achievement.”
She lauded President Buhari and all those who made it possible in the health and education ministries and more importantly, Dr. Osagie Ehanire (Health) and Mallam Adamu Adamu (Education).
“The President’s approval was personally and passionately facilitated by His Excellency, Dist. Senator Hope Uzodimma. The Governor of Imo State, has continued to demonstrate incredible affinity and robust support to the cause of FUTO.”
In his remarks, Senator Tilley-Gyado who is the Chairman of FUTO Governing Board thanked the President for trusting the leadership capacity and judgement of Governor Uzodimma, insisting that the Governor is not used to failure.
“Uzodimma’s chemistry is very universal. He is so charming. If you see him, you love him. Without him, it would not have been possible to get this teaching hospital.”
The Chairman of the Board of the Federal University Teaching Hospital, Senator (Dr) IsHaq Salman views were in sync with what the others said earlier regarding President Buhari and Governor Uzodimma.
Dr. Salman said that Imo State is blessed to have someone like Governor Uzodimma who loves his people passionately and pursues anything about his people with zest.
He said President Buhari was attracted to the Governor due to his commitment to the courses of his people.
The Minister of State, Health, Barr. Joseph Nkama-Ekumankama who said the Teaching Hospital is already classified as a Tier One institution had this to say: “It was as a result of the doggedness, commitment and passion of Governor Uzodimma that led to the upgrading of this institution from FMC to a teaching hospital.”
He said the documents on the approval given by Mr President for the teaching hospital happened to be the first assignment he handled and thanked President Buhari for speedly facilitating the processes.
The occasion was also attended by the high and mighty from Imo State such as the former Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, former INEC Chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu, the Chairman of Imo State Elders Council, HRM Eze Cletus Ilomuanya and his deputy, Prince Lemmy Akakem, the Eze Imo, HRM Eze Dr. EC Okeke, the Chairman of Ben Uwajimogu College of Education Board, HRH Eze Oliver Ohanwe and the Imo State Chairman of CAN, Dr. Divine Eches Divine.
Others were the House of Representatives member, Deacon Chike Okafor, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmos Iwu, the Chief of Staff, Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, members of the Imo State Expanded Cabinet and other top government officials.
Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor