I am a private Nigerian citizen currently residing in Kampala, Uganda. I wish to bring to the attention of the Nigerian public and Government the fraudulent posting of some members of the Nigeria Technical Aid Corps deployed to Uganda.
I have observed with great concern, the subsisting situation of some of the members of the Technical Aid Corps (TAC) who were brought into Uganda late last year and posted to a yet-to-be-open hospital called Kampala International University Teaching Hospital, located in Ishaka in the Bushenyi district of the country.
My understanding of this laudable initiative by the Nigerian Government to assist other countries especially in the South is that volunteers are deployed to serve in government establishments.
I wish to draw the attention of the Nigerian Public to the fact that Nigerian volunteer doctors and nurses who were deployed to the still non-existing Kampala International University Teaching Hospital owned privately by a local businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba have not been utilized since they arrived in Uganda last year.
Apart from the fact that the proposed hospital (still under construction) is a private institution and meant to be a profit making organization, these volunteers have been grossly abused as Nigerian professionals. It is even more disturbing that these over 40 volunteers who are being paid from Nigerian tax payers’ money could have been put to better use in other parts of Africa where there are dire needs for their services and expertise. It is unfortunate that the Nigerian High Commission in Uganda is conniving with individuals in Uganda to defraud Nigeria and Nigerians in this manner.
Currently, Nigerian volunteer doctors posted to Kampala International University Teaching Hospital are being used as lecturers in a private University owned by Mr. Hassan Basajjabalaba. I do not believe it is proper for volunteers from Nigeria to be used in staffing a private for-profit organization like Kampala International University. The situation of nurses posted to this non-existing hospital is even more pathetic. My investigations reveal that they are kept in a hotel in Kampala, idling away at the expense of Nigeria.
It is true that a Kampala International University Teaching Hospital is to be established by Mr. Hassan Basajjabalaba. However, this hospital is under construction. The opening of the hospital has been postponed on several occasions due to lack of funds. Another factor which has delayed the opening of this private hospital is the fraudulent claims Mr. Basajjabalaba makes to the Ugandan Revenue Authority on the importation of building materials for building the hospital.
My investigations also reveal that the hospital in question may not be opened before the end of 2007. The question then is: why should the Nigerian Government be paying allowances to volunteers who may never be used at all throughout their 2-year scheme. I believe these volunteers should not have been posted to a private establishment in the first place, more so one that is perpetually under construction.
I am persuaded to believe that there is complicity on the part of the officials of the Nigerian High Commission in Kampala. They are expected to act in the best interests of Nigeria and Nigerians. These officials did not bother to verify requests for Nigerian Volunteers before posting them. Nigerians should also be informed that the so-called hospital does not even have any form of accommodation for the nurses.
This information could be easily investigated and verified. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to send an independent official to investigate Kampala International University Teaching Hospital where our volunteers have been posted to. The Ministry should also investigate what Nigerian volunteers deployed to this establishment have been doing since their arrival last year.
The findings would be shocking. Efforts should also be made to investigate the propriety or otherwise of deploying Nigerian volunteers to this establishment. In order to investigate the pedigree of Mr. Hassan Basajjabalaba who owns this establishment, Nigerians should simply study the archives of Ugandan National Dailies.
I would like to suggest that the Volunteers posted to this so-called Kampala International University Teaching Hospital be redeployed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately. There are establishments in Uganda and other countries where these volunteers would be useful.
It is so sad that the Nigerian Government could be easily hood-winked into funding a scheme which would benefit a private corrupt individual in faraway Uganda. It is my hope that the new administration under President Umar Yar’adua will be more serious about fighting corruption, not just at home but also in our foreign missions all over the world.
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DR. SKY, Ethiopia, East Africa Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia April 11, 2008
The issue of mis-use of Nigerian professionals posted to countries of the South by TAC, under the auspices of south-south cooperation is quite disturbing. Wale's observations could be true, and must be investigated by the Nigerian government. I happen to be a Nigerian TAC Volunteer for the 2006-2008 biennium currently serving in Ethiopia.
The truth is that Nigerian missions abroad that are supposed to monitor the scheme are not doing enough. They rarely go round the country to monitor the welfare of the volunteers; but are only interested in paying the quarterly allowances, so that they can get their benefits for going round to pay. Most volunteers have written petitions to the Directorate headquarter in Abuja, and even to the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the abuses of the TAC Scheme by benefiting countries, but ironically, nothing meaningful has come out from such petitions.
I think that Nigerian professionals can be put to better use in Nigeria than to be under-utilized in foreign lands in the name of south-south cooperation and projection of our foreign policy. This government must act now by conducting a thorough investigation of the TAC scheme; and re-position it after taking stock of necessary areas that desire change.
Wale Ogunlaja Kampala, Uganda July 02, 2007
It is nice to read that some of the TAC volunteers have confirmed my observations. I look forward to investigations by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and possibly the EFCC. I feel more confident to alert the Nigerian public through an open letter to the President. Nigeria and Nigerians ARE BEING RIPPED OFF
Musa AbduLLAHi Kano, Nigeria June 30, 2007
This article is very interesting. I have heard from a reliable source (from the TAC volunteers in question themselves) that this is very very true.
Musa AbduLLAHI, Kano
Wale Ogunlaja Kampala, Uganda June 28, 2007
I commend Anthony from Kampala for his stout defence of the owner of the non-existent Kampala International University Teaching Hospital where Nigerian TAC Volunteers have been deployed for close to one year on Nigerian Taxpayers money.
I have nothing against Mr. Basajjabalaba as a person because, contrary to Mr. Anthony's claims, I AM A NIGERIAN and I will reveal my identity ONLY AFTER THE NIGERIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HAS STARTED INVESTIGATING MY CLAIMS. I have Ugandan friends living in Western Uganda who assist me in my investigations while I live in Kampala.
ALL I WANT MR. ANTHONY AND THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THAT IS REPONSIBLE FOR THIS SCHEME) TO DO IS VISIT THE SO-CALLED KAMPALA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL. BOLDLY WRITTEN ON THE SIGN POST IS "CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS". I want someone to tell me where the Nigerian TAC doctors and over 30 nurses are practising. You can distort facts, BUT YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE TRUTH.
If the Nigerian Embassy in Kampala does not act on this report and investigate it to its logical conclusion, I shall have no choice but to petition the President of Nigeria through an open letter in Nigerian dailies.
Anthony Kampala, Uganda June 14, 2007
This article by a fictitious Wale Ogunlaja, while on the surface appearing credible is to a large extent malicious.
The scathing attack on the director and administration of a private insitution in Uganda smacks of political vendetta. The issues raised in this article would have sounded better coming from an insider, a member of the TAC group themselves who are supposedly idling away in Uganda. I have no doubt that these senior medical officers would support these allegations were they all just and true. However, the author who would have us believe Nigerians are being hoodwinked by an unlikely alliance between Volunteers, Government officials and a privately owned enterprise is himself hiding diabolical motives. I sincerely doubt whether Mr. Wale Ogunlaja is a Nigerian at all.