By Omogbolahan Adisa, Ilorin
Former Commissioner for Health in Kwara State Suleiman Alege has recanted his earlier claim that the Abdulfatah Ahmed administration left three ventilators in the state, a few hours after the state government challenged him to provide proof or be dragged to the anti-graft agency to produce the facility.
“To say there was no ventilator in Kwara State before now is a fat lie,” Alege claimed in an article that went viral on Saturday, adding: “We had three in good working condition in Kwara State before the advent of the present government.”
Alege was apparently trying to play down the recent purchase of 10 new ventilators, among other key ICU equipment, by the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration. The incumbent had said that Kwara had no single ventilator until now, questioning the capacity of the state hospitals to manage respiratory diseases.
Extreme cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, may require ventilators for a lifeline as patients lose their capacity to breath on their own. Kwara currently has two asymptomatic cases of the virus as at Sunday afternoon.
In a statement countering Alege’s claim, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Rafiu Ajakaye insisted the government inherited no ventilator and said the former commissioner might be required to help the security agencies to locate the ventilators he claimed were bought by the previous administration.
“If what (Alege) said is true that they procured ventilators, then somebody in their team possibly made away with the ventilators or money was released and they were never bought because we inherited no such thing. We therefore found in his claim an urgent need to retrieve for Kwarans what should belong to them,” Ajakaye said.
Alege, apparently responding to government’s position, quickly withdrew his earlier statement — in what has now generated public uproar amid calls on the government to get to the roots of the phantom claim.
“Further investigation revealed that the last administration decided to prioritise the procurement of more oxygen concentrators in order to service many hospitals since the ventilators are only key in intensive care unit,” Alege said, clearly turning 360 degree from his earlier claims.
“Findings revealed that all other medical equipment were procured; only the ventilators were stepped down for the reason stated above.”
The government has said it is reviewing Alege’s comment and may demand him to make a public apology for misleading the public and falsely contradicting government’s position that Kwara had no ventilator until now.