In July 2020, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State handed over a 160-bed capacity hospital to the Federal University of Lafia, to be used as a teaching hospital. The federal university, which was established in 2010, had since taken off full academic activities in the Faculty of Medicine.
Daily Trust reports that the move to establish the Federal University of Lafia Teaching Hospital was informed by the need to bridge the existing gap between primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare delivery in the state. Following that, a bill sponsored by the former Governor of Nasarawa State and present Senator, representing Nasarawa South senatorial district, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, for a teaching hospital has since been approved by the National Assembly. It is however awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
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With the bill, the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital is ceded to the Federal Government to serve as a take-off site for the Federal University Teaching Hospital pending the completion of the edifice at the permanent site.
However, since the passage of the bill, the large edifice which is proposed as the permanent site of the teaching hospital has been in the eye of the storm, with speculations that the federal government had rejected the structure which is located in Shinge, on the outskirt of Lafia metropolis. The proposed N1.2bn teaching hospital has since been left to rot away.
Our correspondent, who visited the proposed hospital premises, observed that the edifice remains a shadow of itself as the entire premises have been taken over by grasses.
Further observations indicated that some of the roofing of the building have been blown off by a recent wind storm. A top government official who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said locals have taken advantage of the neglect to turn the premises into farmlands.
Daily Trust Saturday saw farmers in the area who explained that they were farming on the premises to keep away reptiles and at the same time protect security agents who guard the edifice. According to one of the farmers who asked not to be identified, “We are farming here, not just because the edifice has been neglected but because there is a need to keep the environment clean and to ensure that those who guard the area are safe against reptiles and other dangerous things at night.”
Originally built to serve as a modern specialist hospital, the construction of the 160-bed capacity hospital commenced in 2013 under the administration of Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura.
Speaking on the allegations of abandonment, neglect and rejection of the proposed teaching hospital by the federal government, the Chief Medical Director of Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Dr Hassan Ikrama, said there was no disagreement between the state government and federal government, adding that the state government was only waiting for President Buhari to assent to the bill for the establishment of the teaching hospital.
He revealed further that the state government has offered DASH to the FG as a take-off site for the federal university teaching hospital pending when the new teaching hospital is developed and ready for use. On his part, the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Health, Ahmed Baba-Yahaya said the attention of the Federal Ministry of Health had been drawn to the donation of the building by the state government. He said a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Health had visited the university and Dalhatu Araf Hospital Lafia (DASH) to ascertain the true position of the structures in view of taking it over and to ascertain the requisite information to be transmitted to the president for the assent of the bill.
When asked about the conversion of DASH staff to Federal University Teaching Hospital Lafia staff, he said the structures and human personnel of DASH have been collectively absorbed by the federal ministry of health as federal staff for the teaching hospital, except the few who may not wish to serve the federal government.
While speaking on the seeming neglect of the premises of the new teaching hospital and the farming activities taking place in the area, the Information Officer (IO) of the Federal University of Lafia, Mr Abubaker Ibrahim, said the university was doing its best to keep the environment of the teaching hospital clean. He said security personnel had been deployed to safeguard the place. “We have not abandoned the building that was handed over to us by the Nasarawa State Government, all we are waiting for is for the president to assent to the bill being passed by the Senate to enable us take off properly,” he said.