The Minister of State for Health, Dr Adeleke Mamora, has paid special tribute to Concerned Abia Professionals, a group of Abia citizens, for donating a fully-equipped isolation centre in Abia for the fight against COVID-19.
The minister made the commendation on Sunday evening at the inauguration a 50-bed ultra-modern isolation centre donated by the group to the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia.
He described the initiative as “exemplary and an unprecedented gesture” since the pandemic began.
“This gesture is a demonstration of undiluted patriotism ever seen anywhere in the country since the emergence of COVID-19,” Mamora said.
He said that the project further illustrated the milestone that could be achieved in national development through a robust partnership between the private and public sectors.
Also, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, described the project as a show of unparalleled patriotism.
According to him, the demonstration of this kind of patriotism compels government to complement the people’s efforts.
“This is the spirit of the people of old who did not depend on government, but embarked on community development and people-oriented projects through communal efforts,” Ihekweazu said.
He said that Nigeria could have recorded more casualties “but for some stringent and painful measures taken by the Federal Government on the pandemic”.
Abia’s Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, represented by his deputy, Ude-Oko Chukwu, thanked the initiators of the project for their contribution toward the fight against the pandemic.
Ikpeazu said that it was a thing of joy that COVID-19 had helped to galvanise Abia indigenes to address an issue of common concern.
He said: “It is noteworthy that in every bad situation, there is a positive side to it.
“This is the first time to see Abia citizens across party lines come together to address our common problem.”
He said that Abia had so far recorded 909 cases of COVID-19 with 810 cases successfully managed and discharged in the two government molecular laboratories in Aba and Umuahia.
He said that the state currently had 10 active cases, describing it as one of the least in the south-eastern part of Nigeria.
Earlier, the project initiator, Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma, said the gesture was inspired by the urgent need to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Abia.
Ekeoma said that the facility, christened Abia Care Centre, would handle the outbreak of any infectious disease.
Chairman of the Implementation Committee, Mr Johnson Chukwu, said that 180 Abia citizens contributed N98 million to execute the more than N120 million project.
He expressed joy that the project was completed in a record time of 47 days.
He thanked the Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment Fund and other public-spirited individuals for supporting the project with medical equipment.
In a brief speech, the Medical Director of FMC, Dr Azubuike Onyebuchi, thanked the group for its kind gesture, describing the members as selfless and some of the most patriotic Abia citizens.
Onyebuchi promised that the centre would be fully utilised to achieve its stated objectives.
The Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, representing Abia South Senatorial District, Rep. Sam Onuigbo, representing Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency, and a financial expert, Dr Alex Otti, expressed joy over the realisation of the project.
The Managing Director of Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Investment, Uche Orji, Group Managing Director of First Bank Holdings, UK Eke, Slot CEO, Nnamdi Ezeigbo, Mrs. Vanessa Dez-Ogugua, Dr. Ngozi Azodoh, Elder Ekeoma Eme Ekeoma, Dr. Blessing Nwagba were among many prominent Abians present at the event.