Senator Godswill Akpabio, a former two-term governor of Akwa Ibom State (one of the richest in Nigeria in terms of oil revenue) was involved in a car crash in Abuja on Monday. He was reported to have suffered what could appear to be minor injuries to the chest.
On Tuesday Akpabio, who is also the minority leader in the Senate, flew out of Nigeria for treatment abroad.
In May while he was still governor, Akpabio commissioned the Ibom Specialist Hospital at Ikot Ekpene Road in the state capital Uyo.
He said then: “We lose billions of dollars every year to medical trips abroad. We have also lost a lot of people, not because we don’t have the expertise in the country.
We needed a hospital that can run at international standard. I decided to build general hospitals in local governments that did not have and in areas that are very populated, even if the local government already had one. I found out that what we have here can go for a teaching hospital.
We also decided to have a hospital that would answer to the needs of Nigerians in terms of advance health management and that was why we built the Ibom Specialist Hospital. It is not like a teaching hospital, it is like a quaternary hospital, it is higher than a teaching hospital. We are starting it with about six modular theatres with equipments, that if for instance you are doing a cardiological investigation on a patient, cardiologists from around the world can hook up to the theatre and see real time what is going on and make their contributions to the examination and operation.
That kind of hospital cannot be run by government; we needed to hand it over to a private sector. That is the one that will be a revenue earner. So, instead of rich and wealthy Nigerians and nationals of other West African countries going abroad, it is easier to come here. Sometimes, people die in the air while being transported abroad for treatment. We wanted to shorten travel time for patients going abroad and at the same time get revenue for the state from health tourism. It is a beautiful concept, it is also very big. It is comfort combined with excellence. We have about 380 suites and so many operating wards. We are starting with 150 expatriates all at once.
We are in agreement with a Swiss hospital group and an Arab healthcare group in partnership with Cardio Care in Lagos, which is a group of cardiologists. We are providing a place for a lot of Nigerian skilled personnel abroad to come back home. We are providing a place that is equal to where they are operating from. The MRI system we have installed in that hospital is the best in the whole of West Africa. There is none in Nigeria today. We went for the best because we want to save lives.”
Despite all the hot air, and the 30bn naira ($150.6m) sunk into the hospital, Akpabio hypocritically jets off abroad for treatment at the first sign of ailment. He also claimed to have built a Specialist Hospital at Ekim Itam and five cottage hospitals in Essien Udim, Ibeno, Ukanafun, Eastern Obolo and Ika.
He called his eight-year rule of Akwa Ibom State an “Uncommon Transformation”. By all indications the only things that have seen an “uncommon transformation” have been his foreign bank accounts, which have enabled him acquire St Kitts citizenship for $350,000 and a portfolio of luxury properties there as was reported here.
The St Kitts passport was in case escape from Nigeria became necessary. Akpabio is being investigated by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency for looting 108bn naira ($542m) from his states. Presumably, the looted amounts would include inflated contracts for the allegedly “Five Star” hospital in Uyo that Godswill built but wouldn’t use.