Dr. Kunle Akindele is the Special Adviser to Osun State governor on Health Matters, and a former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state. In his interview, he speaks about the state of the nation and its impact on Osun……CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>
How do you see the composition of the recently constituted federal cabinet?
I am very sure that you would not agree with me that the cabinet parades the usual old faces. There is nothing new in the cabinet because these are people who have been around in Nigeria for some decades now and have served in different capacities.
You have a lot of former governors who were given strategic ministries without recourse to their suitability for such positions. But the most surprising part of it was the appointment of a former governor of Rivers State as a minister in this administration. Maybe it was a kind of reward for him for the job he did by undermining our presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the last elections.
I am not expecting so much from the cabinet because it amounts to recycling old hands at the expense of many vibrant younger Nigerian professionals strategically located around the world.
Would you say the PDP is effectively playing the role of an opposition party?
We are trying as much as possible to put our house in order. But as much as we want to do that, we must be a little bit circumspect because, by the time the court delivers its judgment, we will be more decisive. A lot of our members are quite unhappy over what has happened, but PDP is still one family.
You supervised the emergence of the current governor in Osun State…
He has done exceedingly well. He has surpassed our expectations in terms of performance and has kept faith with his five-point agenda for the people of Osun State. Osun economy has been revitalised.
The people are happy and the crime rate has dropped drastically. Salaries and pensions are paid and some Foreign Direct Investments,FDI, have started coming into the state. He is doing well on infrastructure.
The education sector is looking up and hopes are high in other sectors. To be specific in the area of FDI, some investors are coming to have a roundtable with the governor on how to bring in medical equipment to rejuvenate our hospitals. Some partners are coming in to invest in agriculture, solid minerals and aviation.
We have been interfacing with them and this will go a long way to raise the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state.
As a medical doctor, what kind of improvement do you want for the health sector?
It was Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti as Minister of Health who conceived the primary health scheme in Nigeria.
It was a very lofty idea, but in most cases, the implementation of the policy has not been meticulously followed both at the state and federal levels.
But for us in Osun State, we have mapped out strategies to ensure that our primary healthcare is up to standard.
You will recall that the last administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola in Osun State got a grant of about $20 million or so to upgrade and rehabilitate the primary health centres, but to our dismay, what we saw on the ground was not encouraging.
We aim to ensure that we turn things around for the good of our people. For secondary healthcare, that is the general hospitals, it is the same old story. The previous government practically abandoned that level of health institutions. It is also the same for tertiary.
Since Adeleke came on board, he has introduced Imole Free Medical and Surgical Outreaches.
We had the first phase in the first quarter of the year- March/April or thereabout, and about 22,000 were attended to. Several surgeries were done, ranging from cataract extraction to pterygium, from hydrocele to hernia and many more.
We are at the second phase now and it is ongoing. Before the end of the year, we are going to have a third phase, and it is not limited to that. A lot of medical equipment is being procured for installation in various hospitals so that they can function properly and meet the needs of the people.
We will do our best to stem the tide of medical tourism. Above all, the governor has demonstrated the capacity to maintain industrial harmony among health professionals across the state.
You will recall that in the recent past, members of the National Association of Medical Doctors were on strike across the nation, but those of the Osun State did not join the strike, because, to a very good extent, the governor has been able to meet up with their demand. In due course, we are going to extend such a gesture to other health practitioners across the state.
Very soon, we are going to embark on recruitment in the health sector to fill vacant positions across the state. Outside that, we have it in the pipeline to provide residential quarters for our doctors, nurses, radiographers and the rest. We are doing all these things to ensure that we can retain the services of our health personnel and discourage them from the Japa syndrome and give them a conducive atmosphere to work optimally.
We are not stopping there. We are also collaborating with international donors and development partners like Word Health Organisation, WHO, and USAID to increase their contributions to the development of the health sector. With the recent outbreak of diphtheria, we have embarked on serious surveillance to optimise our immunisation schedule. We have not had any cases in the state in the last three or four months. It shows that we are on top of the game
Talking about palliatives to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal, how is Osun dealing with it?
A committee being coordinated by the Commissioner for Special Duties has been set up. All relevant stakeholders are represented in the committee and they have devised a means to ensure that the palliative get to the desired targets.
It is not new to us in Osun State. Even before we got this from federal government, the family of the governor has always been giving palliative to our people. So, we are used to it. As I speak to you, the consignments that have been brought to us from the federal government are currently being distributed to various groups and units in the state.
Do you foresee a repeat of the COVID-19 period scenario when many of these goods were left to expire in many warehouses while the people were hungry?
Osun is an exception. For Osun, we have received it and made what we received known. Whatever is brought from the federal government will be shared with the people accordingly.
It has been said that many governors divert local government funds, thereby inhibiting good governance…
The National Assembly did its bit, it is left to the state assemblies to take a cue from that and ensure that local governments get what is due to them. For us in Osun, we don’t have any issue with that, as soon as their allocation comes, it goes to them.
This is because they are the people at the grassroots and if there is development at that level, everybody will feel the impact. There is no hindrance there. Local governments get their allocations as stipulated in the constitution.…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>