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Adeleke Revolutionizing Osun State, Says Akindele

Dr. Kunle Akindele is the Special Adviser to the Osun State Governor on Health Matters, and a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE, he speaks on some political issues and activities of the state government, especially in the health sector and other issues

How do you see the composition of the recently constituted federal cabinet?

Well, I am very sure that you definitely would not agree with me that cabinet parades the usual old faces. There is really 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 given strategic ministries without recourse to their suitability for such positions. But the most surprising part of it was the appointment of the former governor of Rivers State as a minister in this cabinet.

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. For me, 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.

But right now, the PDP has been said not to be effectively playing the role of the opposition party…

Well, 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 presidential election petition tribunal delivers its judgment, we will be more decisive.

At this time, a lot of our members are not quite unhappy with what has happened, but PDP is still one family, and most of these issues will be resolved and the party will come out stronger.

You midwifed the emergence of the current government in Osun State, how would you assess Governor Jackson Adeleke so far?

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 revitalized and rejuvenated. The people are happy and the crime rate has dropped drastically.

Salaries and pensions are paid and some foreign direct investments have started coming into the State. He has done very well in that there are lots of infrastructures in place, the education sector is looking up and the hopes are high in other sectors of the economy.

We are happy with him. To be specific in the area of FDI, there are some investors who are coming to have a roundtable with the governor about how to bring in medical equipment to rejuvenate our hospitals.

There are some partners that are coming in to invest in agriculture and of course, solid minerals and aviation. We have been interfacing with them and this will go a long way to raise the IGR of the State, its economy and boost employment.

As a medical doctor, how will you assess our health sector, from primary to tertiary?

Yes, 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 level. But for us in Osun State, we have mapped out strategies to ensure that our primary health 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 ground was not commensurate with that amount.

But we are unperturbed, rather our concern is to ensure that we turn things around for the good of our people. For the secondary healthcare, that is the general hospitals, it is the same old story. The previous government practically abandoned that level of health institutions, same for tertiary. But our governor, His Excellency, Senator Ademola Adeleke has mapped out a lot to be done in that sector.

Outside that, I can tell you, since he 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, and 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 are being procured for installation in various hospitals so that they can function properly and meet the needs of the people.

Health is very pivotal because when you want to assess a government, there are some areas you look at; you talk about infrastructure, education and health and I want to assure you that the present governor and the Health Ministry have resolved to revamp the health sector in Osun State and bring it up to speed with what is obtainable across the globe. 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 the health professionals across the state. You will recall that in 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 trike, because to a very good extent, the Governor has been able to meet up their demand and in due course we are going to extend such 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 are able to 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 donours and development partners like 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 optimize our immunization schedule. We have not had any case in the state in the last three or four months, which show that we are on top of the game

What has been the reaction of the people to this?

They have been very excited; very grateful and it has not really happened in the state in recent times. Health, they say, is wealth because when people are healthy, they are more productive, and a lot of people are coming to take treatment in Osun State.

And it is also a form of palliative in view of the economic hardship that the APC government at the national level has introduced into the polity. So, it is a very laudable programme and people have keyed into it and His Excellency has promised that this programme will be continuous and sustained. We are very grateful to him for that.

Talking about palliative, how is the current one being handled in Osun State?

A committee being coordinated by the Commissioner in charge of Special Duties has been set up. All relevant stakeholders, from the pensioners to Christian/Muslim and NURTW 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 the 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 public and we have shared it equally. Whatever is brought in from the federal government will be shared to the people accordingly and the state itself will equally provide its own palliative to the people.

It has been said that many governors in the country have been diverting local government funds, thereby inhibiting good governance. What is your position on this?

The National Assembly did their own bit, but 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.

It has been argued that some of these local government chairmen are incompetent and some may mismanage the funds, but is the presence auditors taking care of that?

You see, you lead by example. If the state governor does not indulge in that, we don’t expect any local government chairman to do so, and if para-adventure happens, there are extant rules and regulations to take care of that.

The governor that I know will not hesitate to allow the laws to take its cause in that regard. He has said that he is not in Osun to make money because by special grace of God he has businesses across the world, and they are all doing very well. His own philosophy is that Osun money is for Osun people and it is for the development of the state.

 

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