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Furore over plan to relocate Jos Orthopaedic Hospital

Controversy is trailing an alleged plan to relocate the Jos Orthopaedic Hospital from Jos to Barkin Ladi town in Barkin Ladi LGA of the state. …

Controversy is trailing an alleged plan to relocate the Jos Orthopaedic Hospital from Jos to Barkin Ladi town in Barkin Ladi LGA of the state. 

On July 21, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari, approved the establishment of an Orthopaedic Hospital in Plateau, to be sited in the old Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), but contention has since begun over alleged moves to relocate the hospital. 

The disagreement followed a statement issued on November 22, 2022, credited to the Chief Medical Director of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Dr Pokop Bupwatda, by Governor Lalong’s Director of Press, Dr Makut Simon Macham. 

 Part of the statement by Makut, reads: “CMD cited the approval of the National Orthopaedic Hospital affiliated to the University of Jos and to be located in the Lalong Legacy Model Hospital Barkin Ladi as one of the many good things the governor has done to improve the standard of the hospital.” 

Furore over plan to relocate Jos Orthopaedic Hospital

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 The CMD was quoted to have said this when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Lalong at the government house, Jos. 

 Soon after the release of the statement, groups and other stakeholders vehemently rejected the relocation of the hospital, saying it was an attempt to deprive Jos communities of enjoying the services of the hospital. 

A group, known as Plateau Equity Forum, in an advertorial signed by its chairman and a former State Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Dasuki Salihu, accused the CMD of a deliberate plan to relocate the hospital to Barkin Ladi, describing the move as a violation of the law that established the hospital. 

The group appealed to the Minister of Health to stop the plan to relocate the hospital. 

“We, as a community, wish to state that the stance of the CMD is misguided and exposes an undisguised hatred toward the community.  The agenda to relocate the hospital from the Jos metropolitan area is against the law passed by the National Assembly, which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari on 21st July, 2022 because the law specifically situated the hospital in Jos, not any local government within the state. 

“We are writing this formal complaint with the firm belief that if the plan of the CMD is allowed, it is tantamount to a direct violation of the law establishing the institution.

“Our community is indeed aggrieved by the intention of the CMD, and sees the attempt as a sign of hostility to our community,” the former minister added. 

Dr Ibrahim Idris Zakariyya, an Islamic scholar in Jos, who condemned the alleged plan, said any move to relocate the hospital anywhere was a clear violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

“Whatever is passed by the National Assembly, has become law. So, any move by anybody to change it because of his selfish interest is a violation of the law.

“The law had already been passed and assented to by the president. Why make such an attempt to disrupt the process? 

“Secondly, the move to relocate the hospital is an attempt to disrupt the effort of the federal government to restore peace in the state. The government has the right to site whatever project it wants wherever it wants in this country.

“We are Nigerians, and we have the right to enjoy whatever the federal government is bringing into the state. 

“Jos North is a community that, since the return of democracy in 1999, has not enjoyed any dividends of democracy. We have contributed immensely as a community to the development of the state and participated in the election of various successful governments, but we have been neglected for years.

This is an opportunity that comes our way, but a few individuals want to change the location of the hospital. We have been left behind,” Dr Zakariyya added. 

 On the claim that the buildings at the Old JUTH were dilapidated, and therefore new ones like those in Barkin Ladi would be better, Dr Idris said: “This is just a claim. Even if it is dilapidated, it can be renovated. Take for instance, if it is taken to Barkin Ladi, it is the same old story because new buildings must be erected by the government.

“If the buildings at the old JUTH are dilapidated as they claim, why can’t the federal government build new blocks there since the law establishing it cites the hospital at Old JUTH?

“Besides, there are other departments of the JUTH still operating at the old JUTH. This is to tell you that the place is very much okay to house the proposed Orthopaedic Hospital. 

“We are calling on the federal government not to allow people to use ethnicity or religion in determining what should be done to Nigerians. 

“To me, I have every reason to say that some people want to use religion in deciding where the hospital should be located. If for whatever reason, this hospital is relocated, that wouldn’t do us any good because it would create another problem among the residents of Jos.

“We, therefore, call on both the state and federal governments to do the needful and take the path of honour.

“Let the hospital be built where the law says it should be established, just like the Federal Polytechnic in Shendam and Federal Medical Centre in Wase,” Dr Idris added. 

Alhaji Baba Akawu, a former deputy leader, House of Representatives also condemned the alleged plan. He said it would be unfair if the hospital was relocated. 

‘‘In the first place, a bill has been passed and assented to by the president for the hospital to be situated in Jos, and specifically in the Old JUTH.

“Jos is a city and accessible to everyone. Whatever you are looking for, you can find it within the environment. So, it is illegal to tamper with the position of the hospital. 

The law sited the hospital at Old JUTH. There is nothing to debate about. This is the only dividend of democracy that came to Jos community. So why try to stop it. We are calling on the government to stop this relocation,” Akawu said. 

When contacted, the CMD of JUTH denied the allegation, adding that he had no intention to relocate the hospital. 

 Dr Bupwatda said though there was a suggestion by a committee that came to assess where the hospital would be sited, no report has been issued in that respect.

He said his statement was not meant to relocate the hospital to Barkin Ladi because he didn’t have the power to so. 

He explained why he made the statement when he visited the governor; “When a committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Health to assess where the hospital would be located came to Jos, I wasn’t around but my deputy represented me during the assessment tour.

“The committee and the representatives of the state Ministry of Health went round to assess the Old JUTH. After the assessment, the same committee of the Federal Ministry of Health, inquired if there was another place to assess apart from the Old JUTH. The state government then suggested the Lalong Legacy Project, which is in Barkin Ladi. 

“From what my deputy told me, after assessing the two, they said they would look at them and write their report. But the committee felt that some of the structures in the Old JUTH are dilapidated but  Barkin Ladi is a new structure.

“The committee told the state government to choose between the two. But even with that, no reports have been issued in that regard.

“There is no conclusion that the hospital would be relocated to Barkin Ladi because I haven’t seen any report on whether or not the hospital will be sited in Old JUTH or Barkin Ladi. 

“During the visit, I just made mention that both Old JUTH and the building in Barkin Ladi were visited by the committee. The report of the assessment is yet to be issued. 

“I never said it would be moved to Barkin Ladi. I don’t have the power to relocate the hospital anywhere. I wasn’t the one that led the delegation. Besides that, nobody has come to a final conclusion on where the hospital would be located. There is no plan to change anything,’’ Bupwatda said. 

 Mr Nimkong Landam, the state Commissioner for Health, also explained why the building in Barkin Ladi was also assessed and that the decision to move the hospital was not concluded as Governor Lalong had not made any pronouncements in that respect. 

He said: “The governor has the right to choose which place the hospital will be situated because they are all state properties. Besides, the federal government committee said they may prefer that of Barkin Ladi because it was easy to access and can be expanded in the future. But the governor hasn’t made any pronouncements. 

 “Some of the structures in the Old JUTH were affected by the bomb blast, and they have to be demolished, unlike the ones in Barkin Ladi. It is an institution meant for the North Central and not Plateau alone.

“If the hospital is sited in Barkin Ladi, it would be easier to be accessed by those coming from other states of the North Central. But another person from the federal ministry came for the second time with a letter requesting that the Old JUTH be assessed again. 

“We just started hearing people say the governor has moved the hospital to Barkin Ladi. This is not true. The governor hasn’t made any statement yet. But preferably, we want the hospital to be sited in Barkin Ladi,” the commissioner added.

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