Pesidents of Abuja have called for a revamp of the cancer centre project that was championed by former President Umaru Yar’Adua’s wife Turai for health delivery to the vulnerable in the country.
On July 18, 2009, she assembled the Nigerian rich and government contractors to a fundraising in Abuja, which was also attended by her usually taciturn husband, who was battling some complicated diseases at the time.
Financial pledges made by the galaxy of guests to actualise her dream amounted to N6.8 billion.
The International Cancer Centre, (ICC) Abuja was born.
But since then, apart from the imposing structure on the Umaru Yar’Adua Express Road, the project is now virtually abandoned, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
One of the security guards at the ICC, who simply identified himself as Garba confirmed the abandonment.
He said there had been no activities to actualise the centre, as envisioned by Turai Yar’Adua.
According to him, Turai came two times in 2016 to the site. She had not been seen around the area since then.
“We have not seen her this year, but some people often come around to see the progress of the place,” he said.
Garba said some bandits invaded the ICC last year to disposess them of their valuables, adding that few items belonging to the centre were also stolen..
He added that some policemen from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had since been deployed to secure the ICC against further attacks.
“Six of us were employed to secure this place and we do alternate, but because the bandits were fully armed, they overpowered us and beat the security guards.
The desolate centre was more palpable at a park for scores of tricycles meant to be conveying patients. Weeds have swamped the tricycles.
Worried by the delay in completing the ICC, one the residents of Abuja, Mr. Gabriel Oluwabunmi, berated those responsible for the abandoned project, adding that such noble idea that could bring relief to the masses, should have been completed without the usual hiccup.
He called on the authorities to ensure that the project was resuscitated, adding that such cancer centre would help bring succour to those ravaged by the disease and especially those who could not afford to be flown abroad.
Miss Ngozi Chukwuma, whose relative is suffering from the cancer, called on the Federal Government to ensure the completion of the centre to enable Nigerians who could not afford overseas treatment to patronise it.
She said such project would go a long way in assuaging the feeling of Nigerians who could not afford the treatment as a result of heavy monetary demand.
Mrs. Yar’adua had in her speech during the launch of the centre said the whole idea of establishing the cancer centre was conceived out of her desire to contribute her quota to achieving standard healthcare delivery for the vulnerable.
According to her, the centre would specifically render services to women and children, especially the rural and urban poor.
When NAN visited the National Hospital Abuja, which is offering an alternative treatment to cancer patients, the staff appeared so overwhelmed with the huge number of cancer patients.
A cancer patient who craved anonymity called on the Federal Government to assist in revamping the centre, adding that this would go a long way in decongesting the national hospital from cancer patients with special attention.
Mr. Mohammed Lawal, an Abuja based businessman, called on the government not to abandon the centre, adding that though it was a private initiative; the government could also intervene to revamp it.
The ICC, according to its promoter, was meant to focus on four types of cancer that account for most deaths in Nigeria: cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and throat cancer.