PDP

Abia PDP kicks as state govt enrols 4,700 pensioners on

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The Abia State Government has reported that no fewer than 4,700 pensioners in the state have been enrolled to receive free medical treatment in both primary and secondary health facilities across the state under the state’s Health Insurance Scheme.

However, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has urged the state government to be transparent about the scheme and avoid secrecy.

In a statement, Kazie Uko, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, stated that the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo, disclosed this. “Those so far enrolled are pensioners who, prior to retirement from the civil service, were not above the level of Deputy Director.”

According to the statement, “Dr Okoronkwo had briefed the Governor on the efforts her ministry had made in revamping certain health facilities in the state, especially the general hospitals at Amachara, Okpuala Ngwa, Umunnato, and a cottage hospital in Aba”, adding, “thieves had at different times taken advantage of the lack of security and proper illumination in the various facilities to break into the hospitals and cart away equipment and other valuables meant to serve the health needs of the people.”

The Commissioner explained that she had reached out to some senior government functionaries who assisted in raising security for some of the facilities, especially the General Hospital at Okpuala Ngwa.

Reacting, Governor Otti decried a situation where government offices and facilities were left without electricity, stating, “If there are bills to be paid, we’ll pay them and get the facilities reconnected. We cannot afford to have government offices and facilities without electricity,” and subsequently ordered the boosting of security, lighting up of the premises, and proper perimeter fencing of the various hospitals to secure the facilities against unauthorised access.

However, the Abia PDP, in a statement signed by its state Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary, Hon. Elder Abraham Amah, expressed its deep concern that the exercise is shrouded in secrecy and therefore not transparent, “because the statement did not give full details of the exercise, including why only 4,700 were selected and the criteria used for the selection, nor did it state how long it would take to enrol the entire Abia pensioners into the scheme.”

The statement further read, “It is instructive to note that participants for HMO services normally undergo a series of medical tests to ascertain their health conditions before enrollment, and we are at a loss as to when these tests were conducted on these 4,700 retirees before their enrollment.”

“We are even more concerned that the Alex Otti administration did not have the courtesy to inform Abians which Health Management organisation is participating in the scheme and failed to provide its physical address. The exercise looks like it is being used to fritter away Abia resources because, clearly, the process is not transparent.”

“Abia PDP knows that one of the top officials of the Alex Otti administration was involved in health insurance marketing before being engaged in this administration, and we do not want to believe that the person has cornered this exercise for the person’s former organisation because it would amount to a conflict of interest and deviate from the principles of due process, transparency, and accountability in corporate governance and established rules in the conduct of government business.”

“Abia PDP calls on Alex Otti and his team on the HMO enrollment for Abia pensioners to come clean before Abians by making disclosures about the name of the participating HMO, the process through which it was selected, including other HMOs that put forward their papers for consideration, how many more pensioners would be engaged, the timeline, and why the process is being done piecemeal.”

“We also call on the well-meaning Abians to prevail on Alex Otti to provide all necessary details concerning the enrollment of Abia pensioners into the free HMO exercise.”

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