Amid numerous precautionary measures canvassed to contain the dreaded corona virus, the Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources in Akwa Ibom State, Dr. (Barr.) Ekong Sampson, has called on the people of the state to pay serious attention to personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness, even as the state government is set to clamp down on illegal felling of trees in city centres.
“Your Excellency, why are you embarking on the building of a permanent structure as isolation centre as against using available empty space in the state or building a large tent as other states are doing. I am saying this because time is not on our side plus the cost, as we are in a crisis situation, why not put up a temporary thing”?
Those were the concerns raised by a news correspondent on Monday 27th April 2020, during a press briefing hosted by Governor Udom Emmanuel in the banquet hall of the government house Uyo.
But the Governor, who seems to be a good student of Tony Blair’s school of leadership, in his response said NO, citing the stormy weather in the south and the need to be futuristic in investing scarce resources as his reasons for embarking on the isolation centre building.
As if he were a prophet, less than 5days after the press conference, a temporary structure put up by a particular state government (name withheld) as isolation centre was destroyed completely by storm, leaving the state in disarray.
Back to Tony Blair, a former British Prime Minister in one of his brief quotes said “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” Governor Udom Emmanuel by choosing to build a permanent world-class edifice to serve as 300-bed isolation centre has said NO to mediocrity, he is saying NO to the compromising of Akwa Ibom’s excellent standards which the state is known for, and he is saying NO to visionless leadership that does not look beyond the immediate.
As promised by the state government that the isolation centre could be completed in record time of less than a month, in just four weeks, a medical centre that has now become a new wonder in medical tourism in the Nigerian space has sprung up in Ituk Mbang.
The Governor in his wisdom went to an already existing general hospital called Ituk Mbang General Hospital and built a world-class 300 bed isolation centre that has become a centre of excellence.
Needless to emphasize that the Governor in doing so is taking advantage of the crisis at hand to strengthen the capacity and capability of the health sector in the state in line with the postulation of renowned author Martha Beck who said that “Any deep crisis is an opportunity to make life extraordinary in some way.”
Of course, the quality and quantity of visitors trooping into Akwa Ibom state to take a glimpse at the isolation centre is a testimony to the fact that something extraordinary has happened in the state amidst the covid19 crisis.
The breathtaking facility has a 300-bed space, structured into four wards, with 75 beds in each, 20 en-suites Doctors’ Quarters, 26 Intercom lines in each ward and 4 Disinfection rooms for Doctors and Nurses.
Speaking further, he said that COVID19 is an unknown, unforeseen pandemic that no one knows where it will do to the world, Nigeria nor Akwa Ibom state, adding that with the rainy season setting in some weeks from now, building a temporary structure would have spelt doom for the state as such structure might collapse and constitute a loss for Akwa Ibom taxpayers, whereas, with the isolation centre at Ituk Mbang, the state is already positioned to fight future pandemics or other emergencies in the health sector.
He also lauded the setting up of the post COVID-19 economic recovery team by the Akwa Ibom State Government, describing the move as timely and relevant to the economic future of the post COVID-19 Akwa Ibom State.
The World Health Organization and Deputy DG of Incident Management Centre for COVID19 were some of the early birds to visit the centre
Dr Agwai said the WHO is very satisfied with the proactive steps implemented by Governor Emmanuel to combat the pandemic and pledged the full support of the organization for the enabling structures, put in place by the state, to achieve success in the COVID-19 fight.
On his part, the Deputy Chairman, of the Incident Management Committee, Dr Godfrey Akro, described the Governor as a man with a sense of direction and mission, who has left an enduring legacy to boost the Health Sector. Describing the Isolation Centre as ‘Nigeria’s Miracle’, Dr Akro said, not many people initially believed the governor took a rational step in embarking on the project, but the amazing achievement and completion of the sprawling complex, in so short a time, has silenced critics.
If Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States was correct when he said that “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets people to do the greatest things.” Then Hon. Ephraim Inyangeyen, the state commissioner for works deserves some part on the back for making himself available to be used by Governor Udom Emmanuel to do great things such as this.
Mr. Okon Okon, the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service collaborated Regal Reagan when he visited the isolation centre. Apart from pouring encomiums on the Governor for his ingenuity, he commended the works commissioner for his dedication to duty and commitment to the completion of the centre in record time, adding that the dream of having such project wouldn’t be fulfilled without the availability of a ready workman like the commissioner of the work.