When the Oyo State Government presented its COVID-19 expenditure report on Tuesday, June 23, 2019, it was greeted by a lot of furore. I shared my thoughts on the handling of that report, and the response from both the University College Hospital (UCH) and the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan (UI’s) Management here. I believed then that the Virology Department, led by Prof Georgina Odaibo, should issue a statement clearly stating that they received a large percentage of the money in question.
I was happy to see a letter from the Virology Department, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, signed by Prof David. O. Olaleye which copied the Commissioner for Health and the Commissioner for Finance, Oyo State. Although I expected the Virology Department, University of Ibadan, would put out an actual press release, the content of that letter showed that my original thoughts on this matter were correct.
The letter clearly showed that the Oyo State Government did indeed spend $200,000 (N86,000,000) between March and June 26, 2020, “channelled through the Ministry of Health to cover funding gaps to purchase an auto-extractor, computer for data entry, supplemental real-time PCR testing reagent, consumables, payment of ad-hoc staff and allowance for some other staff, diesel, freezers for storage of specimens and courier shipment of some reagents from Europe.”
But this letter only accounts for N86,000,000 expenditure, what about the balance of about N30,000,000? The Oyo State Government, through its @FeedbackOYSG handle, put out a breakdown of its COVID-19 spending, where it stated that the University College Hospital benefited from the N118, 900,000 support in the form of N32million spent on the purchase of five hundred goggles, five hundred protective gowns, five hundred face shields, two hundred and fifty full protective head covers and shoe covers and two hundred hand gloves worth N2M, revolving fund of N5M for treatment of COVID-19 cases and a shopping list by the CMD of medical supplies to the tune of N25M.
The general public is left wondering why the University College Hospital saw the need to put out a statement claiming they were trying to set the records straight. In their statement, they said, “We, hereby, state emphatically that the University College Hospital, Ibadan did not and has not received any monetary donation from the Oyo State Government.” It is obvious that whoever is behind the statement from UCH was trying to obfuscate issues. If really as they claimed they “contacted some officials of Oyo State for clarification,” how did they not get the correct clarification? Who in the Oyo State Government did they really reach out to?
More questions: The Chief Medical Director of UCH, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, is said to have sent a shopping list to the Oyo State Government worth N25,000,000. When they were putting out that press statement, did he forget that he had sent in the shopping list? Did he also forget that the Oyo State Government had given UCH a revolving fund o N5,000,000 for the treatment of COVID-19 patients? To what end did they state in their statement that “The Chief Medical Director of the UCH is a member of the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force. He should know if any money was given to UCH outside the 250 pieces of the PPE given to the hospital.”
As a corollary to this, if indeed the Chief Medical Director is a member of the COVID-19 Task Force, how can he claim to be unaware that there is a near independent Department of Virology led by Prof Georgina Odaibo. Why did the UCH direct attention to the College of Medicine of the University of Ibadan which only recently started providing COVID-19 services through its bio-repository and virology laboratory instead of Department of Virology led by Prof Georgina Odaibo?
Anyone with half a logical mind would understand that by their statements, both the UCH and the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, are playing a game of obfuscation. Their statements were aimed at sending the public on a wild goose chase looking in the wrong direction. Perhaps the rumours that there is a running misunderstanding between the present CMD of UCH, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo and the former CMD who held the forth when Governor Seyi Makinde briefly stepped down as Head of the COVID-19 task force, Prof Alonge is a small part of this puzzle.
It must, however, be stated, that the Oyo State Government could have done better with their communications. True, they have come out with a more comprehensive report. But, their first communication should have been clearer and not leave room for mischief makers to take advantage and turn a good deed into a loss of goodwill. We must not reward obfuscators, this is why we must make it our personal responsibility, as citizens of Oyo State to correct this disinformation being circulated. Oyo State never claimed to have handed N118.9million to any institution, they stated that they spent N118.9 in supporting UCH and UI in the fight against COVID-19