Oshiomhole goes after Igbinedion: Revokes deal with varsity, withdraws TV accreditation

Adams Oshiomhole

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has terminated an agreement to train medical students of the Igbinedion University, Okada at its specialist hospitals over debts totalling N350 million.

The State Government has also withdrawn the accreditation of the Correspondent and Cameraman of the Independent Television (ITV) attached to the Government House.

Commissioner for Information, Mr. Louis Odion, at a press briefing on Tuesday said the university had not paid anything to the government since the agreement was entered into on September 1, 2006.

Odion then declared that in view of the failure of the management of Igbinedion University to honour the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered into with the State Government, Oshiomhole, has approved the termination of same with immediate effect.

The MOU in question was entered into under the Lucky Igbinedion-administration to enable the university enjoy the use of the state-owned Central Hospital Benin and Stella Obasanjo Hospital for the practical of her medical students. It was part of the condition precedent demanded by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to grant the Igbinedion University accreditation to train medical students in the clinical specialties.

Odion disclosed that part of the terms of the said MOU is that the Igbinedion University pay a token as concessionary levy annually to the Edo State Government for the use of the Central Hospital and Stella Obasanjo Hospital for which medical students pay commercial fees to the institution.

However, upon his assumption of office in 2008, Oshiomhole discovered that not only had the terms of MOU been mostly dishonoured despite being too generous to the university, no kobo had been paid to the Edo State Government over the years. Interestingly, whereas the MOU in question enabled the Igbinedion University exclusive use of the facilities at the state-owned Central Hospital and Stella Obasanjo Hospital together with our highly skilled personnel/specialists paid by Edo taxpayers, the state-owned Ambrose Alli University was denied accreditation for medical course by NUC and MDCN for lack of a teaching hospital.

In the circumstance, Ambrose Alli University practically became an orphan who had to depend on the generosity of first University of Benin Teaching Hospital, then University of Jos Teaching Hospital and finally the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital for the sustenance of its own medical course.

Oshiomhole in 2013 directed the State Ministry of Health to invite the management of Igbinedion University to settle the outstanding liabilities as well as convey to the university management a notification for an upward review of the annual fee to reflect current economic realities. By our own calculations, the liabilities of Igbinedion University to the Edo State Government stood at N350m as at 2013 at N50m per annum. This was duly conveyed to the university in writing.

However, the university wrote back and offered to pay N50,000 per month for use of the facilities and personnel/consultants at Benin Central Hospital and Stella Obasanjo Hospital.

Concerted efforts made ever since by the State Government to make the management of Igbinedion University to pay the debt that had accumulated over the years and also agree to an upward review of the annual charge have proved abortive.

In the circumstance, the government is left with no other option than terminate the MOU in public interest. The Ministry of Health has equally been directed to inform the Nigerian University Commission and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria that the Benin Central Hospital and Stella Obasanjo Hospital will no longer be made available for the use of the medical students of Igbinedion University.

The State Government explained it withdrew the ITV accreditation for what it called the station’s unprofessional reportage of news and events aimed at deliberately misinforming the people on the government’s programmes and activities.

In a letter to the General Manager, Independent Television (ITV), Benin City, owned by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Special Adviser to the Governor, Prince Kassim Afegbua said: “You will recall our earlier discussion with you on the series of fabricated and adversarial reportage of issues in the state which has continued to misinform, misrepresent and confuse the people of the State.

“As you know, these deliberate false reports which have become your editorial policy offend the ethics of broadcast journalism and the code of conduct spelt out by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

“In view of the above, we are withdrawing the accreditation of your correspondent earlier attached to Government House with immediate effect.”