Wike: Why I Sacked Health Commissioner

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has explained why he sacked the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike.

Governor Wike announced the sack of Prof. Chike Monday, when the chairman of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Prof. Abba Wasiri Hassan, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

The governor said the reason for his action was because Chike did not seek the state government’s approval to host the preliminary session of MDCN in Port Harcourt.

He described the decision of the commissioner to host the MDCN without the consent of the Rivers State Government as most embarrassing.

The governor explained that the Rivers State Government never requested to host the MDCN’s preliminary session in Port Harcourt.

He stressed that the commissioner erred by unilaterally hosting the MDCN event at the same time when the state government was commissioning and flagging off of some projects.

“Frankly speaking, I have never seen an embarrassment like this in my life. Everybody knows that it is not my nature to bring people and you cannot attend to them or host. So, whoever has done it will suffer for it,” he said.

Wike said the request by the MDCN that state governors should establish one tertiary hospital in each of their senatorial districts will not be realisable due to paucity of funds.

He said: “You have talked about siting tertiary hospitals in each of the senatorial districts, you know it is not possible. That is why in Nigeria we have a problem. When you go for your budget, you put all kinds of projects. You know it cannot work. Where will you get the money to site these in each of the senatorial district?”

The governor explained that in a bid to improve citizens’ access to quality healthcare service delivery, his administration has embarked on the construction of some zonal hospitals in Bori, Degema, Etche, Ahoada and Omoku.

He further stated that his administration has also invested huge amounts of resources in promoting medical education in the state, particularly, with the establishment of the Rivers State University College of Medical Sciences and the annual award of scholarships to 130 indigenes of the state studying Medicine at PAMO University of Medical Sciences.

“You will agree that I have provided the necessary funds for whatever you requested to give a standard medical college. Our partnership with PAMO is very interesting. In fact, every year, Rivers State Government offers scholarship to indigenes. This year we have approved 130,” he said.

Governor Wike used the occasion to canvass for the reduction of the money the federal government gets from the federation account to enable the states have more resources to drive their development.

The governor said states should be allowed to fix the amount they can afford to pay their workers, including medical personnel, adding that one of the bane of the country’s federal system is the attempt to foist a uniform salary structure on the entire country.

“I don’t want to talk about the salary thing. It is part of the problem we have. If you want to work in Rivers State, the state government should negotiate with you on what you should earn. Why should the man who is in Kogi earn the same thing with the man working in Rivers State? What is the house rent in Kogi? What is the house rent in Port Harcourt?

“If we don’t want to run true federalism, we should leave it. I can’t sit here as governor of a state, you go to the federal government to negotiate, you come and give me to sign, I will not sign,” he said.

The Chairman, MDCN, Prof. Hassan, explained that they were in the state for the ninth preliminary session of the council.

He commended Governor Wike for his positive attitude towards healthcare and medical delivery services in the state, particularly, the huge investment in the Rivers State University College of Medical Sciences, award of scholarship to indigenes of the state studying medicine and the construction of a world class Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Port Harcourt.

The MDCN chairman urged governors to consider investing in tertiary hospitals in each of the senatorial districts in the country in order to increase the number of hospitals available for the training of house officers and to check medical tourism.

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