By Augustus Bill
With the 2019 Elections pulling closer, several mischief makers are already perfecting plans to appear as saints in order to win the votes of their electorates, and elicit funds from International bodies that will fall to their cheap guise. An emerging situation is that of one which involves Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, wife of Abia State Governor and her Vicar Hope foundation.
On 20th March 2018, Vanguard published a story crediting Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, the wife of Abia State Governor as perfecting plans to open Sickle Cell clinics in all the 17 LGAs of the State through her Vicar Hope Foundation. While her plans may be lauded by Abians, especially those living with Sickle cell disorder, it did not conceal a great ploy by her Excellency or her foundation to put the lives of Sickle Cell Persons in Jeopardy.
Her Excellency was right when she said as quoted in the Vanguard article written by Emanuel Okogba that Sickle Cell disorder was the most neglected aspect of the health programmes by the government, as little or nothing has been done to Sickle Cell disorder as opposed to other disorders or health challenges that have benefited immensely from the support of the government. Successive governments have failed to implement laws to protect those living with this unfortunate disorder. Except for Anambra State who are on the verge of Passing and enacting a Sickle Cell Law, no State government have deemed it wise to redeem the plight of the persons with this disorder.
One begins to wonder what part of Abia State is AWKA, or is the Awka in this context same as the capital city of Anambra State. Could this be a glaring untruth by her Excellency or an error from the reporter?
To set records straight, after thorough research, there is no Sickle Cell centre in Awka, Anambra State, where the Abia State First lady claimed she has a clinic where she gives out drugs for free. The only Sickle Cell Clinic in the State is the Prince Engr. Arthur Eze Sickle Cell Clinic at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Ukpo, and was constructed by Association of Persons Living with Sickle Cell Disorder under the leadership of her coordinator Aisha Edward, and financed by Engr. Arthur Eze.
It is very confusing that the Wife of Abia State Governor would leave her state to develop a sickle cell clinic in Anambra State, while sickle cell persons languish in her state. If Mrs Ikpeazu insists there is a sickle cell clinic in Awka, she should provide details of such clinic so that persons living with sickle cell disorder can go there for treatment. You don’t just say Awka, where in Awka and what is the name of this clinic.
Shortly after the Vanguard article went viral like a sponsored post, the coordinator of Associaon of Persons Living with Sickle Cell Disorder disputed the facts laid down in the Article. According to her there is no such clinic in Awka, and it is embarrassing for her Excellency to put up such information, which shows she has no regards for the persons she claims to be protecting.
Aisha continued that Mrs Ikpeazu may have good intentions with the establishment of Sickle Cell Clinics in all the 17 LGAs of Abia State, but lying about a sickle cell clinic in Awka, puts question marks over her good intentions. She maintained that persons living with sickle cell disorder have always been victims of huge fraudulent activities, as people use them to extort money from International bodies for their selfish gains, and putting their chances of getting help in great danger.
The Sickle Cell Advocate said that her Association has fought most of the Fraudsters out of Anambra State, and it would not be surprising that they are springing up again in Abia State, and the wife of the governor is falling for their pranks. She advised that if the Wife of the Governor sincerely cares for those living with sickle cell disorder, she should move to ensure that the Sickle Cell Law is enacted in the state, as that is the first step of redemption for perosns living with sickle cell disorder, and a sure way to eliminate possible fraudulent activities.
However, Aisha lauded the efforts of the First Lady in sickle cell advocacy in Abia State, as media reports suggests that she has done great through her Vicar Hope Foundation. The Sickle cell group coordinator advised that the First Lady treat this recent issue with caution as it puts a huge question mark to the sincerity and legitimacy of her sickle cell campaigns in Abia State. According to her if the First Lady can claim a sickle cell clinic that doesn’t exist in AWKA, it is very much possible that her so called campaigns in Abia State are largely false too.
Also speaking on the matter Nne Ihuoma-Ngumoha, a UK based Sickle Cell Advocate and Health Worker expressed her disappointment at the recent happenings, stating that such untrue asertions by the wife of the governor were reasons International bodies deny aiding sincere advocacy groups in Nigeria, because the fraudulent ones have already caused grave havoc. She advised Mrs Ikpeazu to liaise with the right persons with enough experience and sincere minds for eradicating sickle cell disorder in order to make her dreams reality.