…Land-grabbers threatening Centre’s mandate.
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Commissioned in December, 1992, with the core mandate to provide preventive, curative and rehabilitative eye care services to all Nigerians and even patients from the West African sub-region, the National Eye Centre has continued to doggedly pilot the ship of eye care services for Nigeria and beyond.
Within the past 5 years of Dr. Mahmoud Alhassan-led management, the hospital has attended to an average of 39,261 patients per year, mainly Nigerians from various walks of life.
This is apart from its various community outreach programmes, which take eye care services to the doorsteps of indigent Nigerians in partnership with Non-Governmental Organisations, Local Government Leadership and public spirited individuals. Often times, the programmes are conducted with little or no cost to the patient.
From the foregoing, therefore, the need for adequate number of highly skilled Ophthalmologists and Ophthalmic nurses need not be overemphasized. This, including the fact that the hospital is the Apex training institution for eye care in Nigeria, makes the need for a Post-graduate Medical School imperative.
The school will expectedly address the herculean task of continuously training Ophthalmologists, known in everyday parlance as eye doctors, to meet the demand of rising number of Nigerians, who yearn for eye care services.
The Post-graduate Medical School is one key component of the National Eye Centre’s Master Plan and is estimated to admit two hundred students.
Given the flow of visitors to National Eye Centre vis-à-vis the challenge of accommodation, the National Eye Centre’s Master Plan has a “Grade 1” Guest House for visitors and others. With her original land space, the hospital plan included a 100-room Guest House.
The plan also included hostels for 200 Post-graduate Medical Students and 500 Post-graduate Nursing and Paramedical Students. With evolving technology, the hospital needs a CT Scan Suite and other facilities, which though are not in the original plan, are imperative for best practices in line with today’s global trend in eye care.
All these require massive land space, which, in the wisdom of government, was provided for in acquiring landmass for the hospital. In addition, the plan provided for various categories of staff quarters, which only a small percentage of the total is presently on ground.
A standard Staff School is also in the plan. As at today, only the Core Hospital Complex, a small percentage of the Staff Quarters, Mosque and Chapel all in the original plan is in place.
The hospital’s plan to progressively construct the other aspects, which are indispensable for effective service delivery and fulfilling of the mandate as envisioned by the founding fathers for the good of Nigerians and humanity, are at risk through the effort of land grabbers.
With the perennial land tussle orchestrated by these land grabbers with the tacit collusion of some greedy members of the host communities, who were compensated and resettled by the Federal Government at the point of acquiring the land for the hospital, it’s a case of these people ‘eating their cake and wanting to have it back.’
They keep intruding on National Eye Centre’s land, beating the imagination of others that anyone would fight government’s genuine intention to make available an Eye Hospital of International standard and size.
The State and Federal Governments must rise to check this disgusting criminality and impunity. If not, the Centre’s capacity to achieve the full realization of its mandate and improve the ever evolving Eye Care services to generations of Nigerians may be far-fetched.