Monday, January 5, 2009
OMO OMORUYI, DOES IT PAY TO SERVE NIGERIA?
In this op-ed Icheoku asks, is what Professor Omo Omoruyi currently going through, after 40 years in public life with many of them devoted to a meritorious service to Nigeria, worth the sacrifice? Professor Omo Omoruyi, 70, was a founding father and former Director-General of the now defunct Nigeria Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), Abuja. His effort at the CDC which he founded in 1989, culminated in the Option A4 electioneering system that successfully engineered the election of M.K.O. Abiola as president, from the first ever free and fair election conducted in Nigeria. Several years after the said election was mischievously annulled by Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, this professor of Political Science is in a very sorry state of health and the government of Nigeria which he dutifully served seem to have told him, you are on your own!
This elicits the question, "what is then the incentive for serving Nigeria honestly, if such a past "good-servant" is now so desolate that he cannot even afford to pay his medical bills? Icheoku says, this may be the reason why public officials in Nigeria are endemically corrupt because they know that nobody will ask about them once they are out of power. Put in another way, does this mean that Professor Omo Omoruyi was not corrupt, otherwise his stashed millions of dollars/pounds would still be available at his pleasure? It is also instructive to note that the Professor is from Niger Delta area of Nigeria and yet, despite their natural resources, his state of Edo cannot afford his medical treatment while virtually all his counterparts from the north who similarly served Nigeria, are swimming in abundant wealth assisted by their states. Now Professor Omo Omoruyi has prostate cancer and needs financial assistance to fight it. The government is lukewarm in providing assistance. The Professor acknowledged there is a health-care delivery crisis in Nigeria where he spent a week at the National Hospital at Abuja, misdiagnosed and being giving ordinary painkillers and muscle relaxers for his excruciating pain symptoms. Prior to which he was an off and on outpatient of the hospital manifesting pains with leg pain, back pain, body pain etc. The Professor noted that nobody at the National Hospital was able to correctly diagnose his seething body pain and his inability to move his legs as something more serious than requires mere pain relieving drugs. Continuing, Professor Omoruyi lamented that even the doctor who admitted him did not bother to see him again throughout his one week admission at the hospital? Sounds scary, you bet; but that is the Nigeria way! Professor Omo Omoruyi also regretted that he was still poor at 70 and after so many years of selfless service to Nigeria. Icheoku now asks Professor Omo Omoruyi, would he have stolen to his heart's delight knowing then, the realities of his life today? It is also important to point out that the Professor took some bullets in Nigeria in a 1994 failed assassination attempt in Benin, from bandits who possibly targeted him for his perceived role in the 1993 annulment. Icheoku says that the feeling of abandonment which Professor Omo Omoruyi is experiencing today is not encouraging at all; as this will only spur corruption amongst public servants who will become more desperate to stash away enough money for their own rainy days. Such experience breeds corruption and something must be done to checkmate it, in the spirit of fighting corruption. The Nigerian government must find a way to provide for the health care needs of such "patriotic" elder-statesman who was willing to forsake the cushions of life abroad to return home to Nigeria to try to help out. If the government cannot provide for the primary and secondary care needs of such deserving citizen, at least it should be able to under-write his tertiary catastrophic health care needs.
Icheoku says, dialysis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, open heart surgery, brain surgery and such other high-dollar cost medical needs, that are too crushing for an individual's pocket, should be borne by the government. Professor Omo Omoruyi has cancer and so ordinarily, is eminently qualified for such government assistance, especially in view of his contributions to the development of democracy in Nigeria. The Center for Democratic Studies which he founded and nurtured was a success, admitted it later went the way of so many other things in Nigeria.