Home Health Just 32, Ako Is Gone! Again, Nigeria’s Health System Calls To Question

Just 32, Ako Is Gone! Again, Nigeria’s Health System Calls To Question



Only at 32, Ako Etim Essien Ekpe is gone. No thanks to Nigeria’s poor health system and dearth of personnel who on constant basis jet abroad for greener pastures.

No volume of tears and lamentation will bring Ako back. Yes she is gone to rest with her creator. The rest is grief upon grief with those she left behind. 

Given the attitude of our political leaders over the years, the health system is in shambles and majority of Nigerians  are just surviving by the mercy of God. 

In other climes, cancer patients survive for years but Ako, a young teacher at Cradle Bay Nursery and Primary School, Calabar, a graduate of the University of Calabar who was waiting for her NYSC call up, battled with it for only three years and she is gone. Coincidentally, she was born on November 5th, 1991 and kicked the bucket on November 5th, 2023 at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar.

Death still remains a mystery to man. Although in Africa, the demise of a love one is often associated with insinuations  and witchcraft most especially when it comes mysteriously. 

Take for instance, Otuekong Orok Otu Duke, the cousin to Ako even though submits totally to scientific and orthodox medical solutions to health challenges, but in his tribute for Ako, just like a typical African said, “what did Ako do wrong? Who did she offend? What is going on in Essien Ekpe Family (my maternal family)? Eyonsa Ekpe died; on his burial day, Effiong Ekpe died. While Effiong’s funeral arrangements are going on, Ako  Ekpe has also died, all within one month”. 

In a poetic verse, he continued, “As flies to wanton boys. So are we for the gods. They kill us for the sport”.

Despite this insinuations, Duke, a former lawmaker and Deputy Speaker in the Cross River State House of Assembly, queried the country’s poor health facilities that has been neglected over the years and in some cases the personnel that are not there to manage them.

He said, “in Nigeria you can only help out in cancer case at the first two stages, but once it gets to the third stage there is no way you can help, except God’s miracle. In Nigeria even with all the limited modern facilities we have, you can only detect cancer when it gets to the third stage. That’s why most of the people end up dying. It is that bad”. 

Commenting further on the issue of cancer which is becoming very common, Duke, who is the Commissioner representing Cross River State on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) said, “I like conspiracy theory because all over the world if the big pharmacies want something cured it will be cured like COVID. Like malaria and cancer they know that their future depends on them making money off those medical or whatever they are, they will never find a cure. That’s the situation. You have to avoid it. Detect it early and manage it”

Relating the Nigerian system, viz-a-viz the case of Ako and many others, Duke said, “we don’t have those experts. If you have a case of cancer on any part of your body and you attempt to treat it, you must be a billionaire to be able to treat cancer in Nigeria

“Nigerian system is complicated. Let me tell you an instance. When Godswill Akpabio (current Senate President) was governor of Akwa Ibom, and people were going to Port Harcourt and Enugu for dialysis, he got 16 machines, only for them to whisper that it takes like 12 years to train one technician to manage the machine. So the machines were just there.

“Like what they did with Ibom Air. They sent 50,000 people for training as far back as when they started the airport. They are the ones that are almost in every part of the airport. Those they trained abroad. Some never returned”. 

He said, “we must have a system put in place were we preempt all these situations. You can get kidney dialysis machine now but you won’t get the technician who would know the requisite dosage to apply for anything to work. It is that bad. Even now as we are talking, there is somebody that has cancer but they said they want to take the person to Uyo, that the one at Asi Ukpo is no more working. 

“We need to update. Our own is that we try to improve our medical doctors, when they go they don’t come back. It is either they are not patriotic enough or they just feel it is their time to make more money. Some medical doctors when you ask them when last did they undergo retraining, none. It’s that bad” .

On what to do to check another early exit like Ako, Duke said, “even if you don’t have the qualified personnel you can always arranged for them to come periodically. Maybe one month. They only need accommodation, feeding and security. They will come. But where is the electricity? People stay with the machine for two years, but here they put your person and NEPA (now PHED, electricity supply company) takes light the person is gone”.

The Ubon Simon Essien Ekpe Royal Family in a condolence message signed by the Chairman, Etiyin Bassey Otu Duke and Acting Secretary, Grace Edet Ekanem, equally expressed their shock and grief over the demise of Ako saying, “with deep sense of grief, it is difficult to find appropriate words to soothe the pains for the loss of a first child”. 

But they equally took solace in the biblical injunction that, “He who created her has taken her to Himself”.

Delivering her sermon at the solemn ceremony on Saturday, December 30, at the Amayo Duke Academy premises, that was laced with tears before Ako was interred at the Hawkins cemetery,  Rev Ema Joseph of the Presbyterian Church put it succinctly, “Ako has played her part and we the living should think of ourselves. Are we doing the right thing for mankind? Are we doing things that will bring glory to God?”

She said, “this world is not our home. We are just tenants. When the time comes God takes. We should not live a careless life. Some people go to church and hide to perpetuate evil, the Lord is seeing you. We should examine ourselves. It is not the will of God that we should perish. We should go to God and He will serve us. It is not His will that one should die without giving his soul to Him”.

She concluded that “God gives life and He takes” but if mankind and the society should do what is expected of us by God, probably many will fulfill the Biblical injunction of three scores and 10 (70 years) before they give up the ghost. 


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