By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Launched in May 28, 2018, with a plan to render health care insurance for Cross Riverians and residents in the State, Governor Ben Ayade had boasted that “The State will invest heavily in the scheme to ensure quality and affordable health care services for our people.”
Justifying the launch of the scheme, the Governor said “the scheme is a clear indication that the State is in the right path to ensuring prosperity and better health services for the people.
“Our children must have access to the scheme and the launch of the programme on Children’s Day is to celebrate the children who are leaders of tomorrow.”
At the launch, the Governor had noted that the scheme will take care of the very poor in the society as well as also target the vulnerable and zero income earners in the State.
But despite promises of his government’s readiness to make affordable health care available to Cross Riverians and residents through the Ayade Care initiative.
Investigation by NKONG has revealed that the Governor Ben Ayade led government has failed to deliver on that promise over one year after its launch.
While the initiative received wide commendation from health practitioners and stakeholders including the United Nations, some had expressed fears about the political will and sincerity of the Governor to ensure its full implementation. That fear would be confirmed by the painstaking investigation by this paper.
Dr. Inyang Asibong was the Health Commissioner at the launch of the project. We reached out to her on telephone and after our reporter introduced himself and proceeded to know about the level of implementation of the project, she immediately became jittery and simply said “please go to the Ministry of Health, I cannot answer any question about that for now, I am no longer in the ministry.”
When our reporter reminder her that she was the one in charge when the initiative was launched she quickly dropped the call.
Our team of reporters got to the office at No 30 barracks road, a structure which houses the World Health Organization (WHO) funded Roll Back Malaria project. We met a scanty one room office apartment housing the initiative, with about two staff.
We pretended to be prospective customers of the scheme and sought to know registration processes. We were informed that the scheme had not taken off.
Although at the launch, Governor Ayade had publicly pronounced a donation of N250 million as seed fund, N200 million on behalf of the state and N50 million on his behalf and family. Whether the money was actually released or not this paper was not able to confirm.
The Governor had noted the efforts of lawmakers from both National and State Houses of Assembly to subscribe for at least 500 persons from their political wards. Multiple sources confirmed that the promises ended after that event.
According to highly placed source within the state ministry of health “the Governor did not back up his promises with actual release of funds.
“Soon after the launch, the scheme was shelved aside. No money was released, so how can it take off?” the source queried.
Perhaps sensing insincerity, then State Chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress -NLC, Comrade John Ushie was reported to have strongly resisted a proposal by the technical team of the initiative to make a 3.5 percent deduction from the basic salary of all civil servants for a family package of the AyadeCare scheme. The labour leader was reported to have argued that the scheme must begin first, before the government can talk about making deductions from workers salaries. A decision that did not go down well with the Government.
The same 3.5 percent deduction was proposed for political appointees at the time.
While the scheme received wide commendation from healthcare professionals, refusal of the State Government to ensure its full take off despite so much fanfare and high promises from the Government remans a cause for concern.
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