Danjuma Lifts The Poor In Enugu, Applauds Female Fund Manager
By Paul Ejime
Nigerian philanthropist General TY Danjuma (GCON) (Rtd) has commissioned a state-of-the-art high-efficiency Medical Centre in Enugu, Enugu State capital built and equipped by the TY Danjuma Foundation, in furtherance of his commitment to transforming the lives of the poor.
At a ceremony on Tuesday 28th November, attended by dignitaries including government officials and members of the host Umuchimgbo Iji Nike, Abakpa Community in Enugu East Local Government Area, Gen. Danjuma, cut the ribbons to unveil the multimillion Naira Goodwill Medical Centre (GMC). He was accompanied by the Enugu State deputy Governor Barr. Ifeanyi Ossai, who represented Governor Peter Ndubisi Mbah, Prof. Uche Amazigo, her husband, Prof John Amazigo and the Anglican Bishop of Enugu Dioceses Emmanuel Olisa Chukwuma (OON).
“This magnificent edifice can only be built by women at the price they accounted to me,” the General said, in a tribute to Prof Amazigo, the brain behind the GMC project, and an acknowledgement of female fund managers, adding: “Men will take your money and you won’t see any building or money. So, join me to salute and congratulate Prof Uche and her team for a job well done.”
Gen. Danjuma recalled how “Prof Uche, accompanied by two other female professors, had presented a request (to him) to provide financial support for building and equipping a low-cost high efficiency medical centre to provide excellent medical services by predominantly female medical doctors, nurses and midwives, who chose to dedicate their time to humanity.”
Before then, he said, his first encounter with Prof Amazigo was in 2010, when she was Director of the Burkina Faso-based WHO African Programme for River Blindness Control, WHO/APOC.
She had approached him for support to the Programme and in response to that request, Gen. Danjuma donated US$1 million during a meeting in Abuja, where he represented President Goodluck Jonathan. Prof Amazigo as the first female Director, steered the WHO/APOC programme from control to elimination stage freeing 140,000 communities of the debilitating blinding disease in 19-endemic African countries before her retirement from the UN System in 2011.
Gen. Danjuma also disclosed that Prof Amazigo served on the Board of Trustees of TY Danjuma Foundation for eight years free of charge.
Enugu State Governor Mbah, represented by his deputy, Barr Ossai, described Gen. Danjuma as a detribalised Nigerian and commended him for his philanthropic endeavours through the TY Danjuma Foundation. He said the Enugu Medical Centre would complement government’s efforts in providing accessible and affordable healthcare services to low-income families and the poor in the state.
Speaking in the same vein, the Enugu East Local Government Chairman Livinus Anike praised Gen, Danjuma for his contributions to Nigeria’s development.
In her address of welcome, Prof Amazigo said although she hailed from Anambra state, born and grew up in neighbouring Abia State: “The experiences of working across impoverished areas, the spirit of giving and the desire to honour the students I taught at UNN (University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus), led to the idea of GMC.”
“Among the important lessons I learned from the rural people in many countries is that the high rate of deaths of our children is because mothers and fathers have no voice in any of the systems – particularly in education, health and they have no market power.
“But the people (poor families) are eager and willing to be part of the solution to their problems if we agree to engage them,” she explained, adding that the 2,000 members of low-income families in Umuchimgbo and other Abakpa environs interviewed for the project, expressed their willingness to participate.
“Our objective is to provide quality healthcare for all. This Centre with the assistance of seven Consultant specialists and Professors, will provide low-cost treatment for indigent patients and charge others (the rich) the standard medical fees. The Centre has a plan for the enrolment of 1,000 or more indigent people randomly selected from communities, into the National Health Insurance Authority/ Group, Individual, Family Social Health Insurance Programme (NHIA GIFSHIP),” Prof Amazigo affirmed.
She thanked the Enugu State government, the Local Government Area, the community, and their traditional ruler HRH Chief Jude Agu, for buying into the GMC dream.
She also expressed appreciation to her colleagues for their contributions and her siblings and family for their support.
Prof Amazigo advocated that a philanthropist such as General Danjuma and not-for-profit organisation – the TY Danjuma Foundation, should be encouraged for their contributions and investments in the health of the population through state government financial and technical supports to health initiatives such as the GMC project.
The TY Danjuma Foundation has funded more than 200 pro-poor projects of over 42.2 million dollars implemented by 150 grantees in Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.