Awka – DAILY INDEPENDENT reported that, “Immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, during his tenure at the Government House, Awka, introduced a lot of innovations in his administration. One such innovation was the introduction of a government-church partnership in the equipment and management of schools and hospitals in Anambra State.”
“The initiative became imperative when it had become obvious that governments all over the country were having challenges over quality health care and proper management of schools. At the time, Obi announced that government will partner with the church to run schools and equip hospitals. While government provides fund direct to the churches, and this has been inherited by his predecessor, Willie Obiano, the churches would in turn rebuild dilapidated infrastructure and buy new equipment in those schools and hospitals.” says the Daily Independent report.
Initially, teachers threatened to embark on strike over the issue of take-over of schools but Obi invited the leadership of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and ironed out issues with them. He urged the teachers who were afraid that with take-over of schools, their salaries would no longer be regular and that they would be paid poorly to give the government–church partnership a chance.
Years on, the innovation seems yielding dividends in both education and health sector.
Last weekend, secondary school students of the state swept every prize bestowed on education at secondary level in Nigeria: best result in West African School Certificate Examination (WAEC) in Nigeria; best result in National Examination Council (NECO), and best and second best students in All Nigeria Conference of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) organised national quiz competition for Nigerian students.
As the two students of Anambra State who excelled in the ANCOPSS quiz competition – Master Umeh Anthony Nnaemeka of Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka and Miss Okoro Chiazagom Emmanuella of Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha (QRC), Onitsha – arrived the state with their prizes, the initiative was being celebrated by St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, owned by the Catholic Church as the hospital marked its Golden Jubilee.
Former Governor Obi was celebrated for his initiative and the fund he released to the hospital with which the management gave it a new look.
Obi who was present at the occasion savoured the encomiums but advised that running of schools and hospitals was best left at the hands of churches even though government should supervise those institutions. Eulogised as the architect of the projects that were commissioned during the event which include ultra-modern school of nursing, and a theater among other projects Obi said he decided to partner with the church, especially in education and health care delivery because the church was better at managing those institutions. He said that though he recognised the importance of government, he believed that government’s role should best be supervisory.
Looking at the gigantic projects which the hospital built with relatively smaller amount of money compared to what state government should have achieved, Obi said: “Look at the projects the hospital delivered in partnership with the church. If it were entirely by the government, I am sure today they will be in variation stages”. In his sermon during the mass to mark the event, Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha and the proprietor of the hospital, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, traced the history of jubilee celebration to a time of freedom, celebration and turning of new leaf. He thanked all those that contributed to the building of the hospital, starting with the founder, Archbishop Charles Heerey.
He particularly commended Obi who, according to him, introduced a new vista in the partnership between government and the church. He thanked his successor for the promise to continue in Obi’s footsteps.
In his own remarks, the hospital Chief Executive Officer, Rev. Fr. Daniel Onuorah, thanked all those that have continued to support the hospital. Attributing the success of the hospital to Archbishop Valerian’s support and fertility in conceiving what should be done, he thanked Obi for his good work in Anamba State for which the hospital was a major beneficiary.
The high point of the event was the commissioning of the School of Nursing building by Governor Willie Obiano who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Joe Azike, and the laying of the foundation for the new ultra- modern theater.
Also, Obi and other people who had supported the hospital and those who had worked in the hospital past and present were presented some awards. These include: the family of Justice Fred Anyaegbu that donated the land for the hospital and Mr. Peter Obi for “creating a massive partnership of the state government with the hospital as the Governor. Others are former Commissioner for Health under Obi, Professor Linus Ilika, Chairperson of MDGs during the same period, Prof. Stella Okunna, and Dr. Chike Akunyili, among others.
Mrs. Vivian Nwandu, Deputy Chairperson in MDGs then also accompanied Obi.