By Douglas Okoro
Abakaliki – The Onu Political Organisation (TOPO), has absolved Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of comments credited to him by sections of the media urging Nigerians to discontinue overseas medical treatment.
TOPO on Thursday in Abakaliki at a press briefing addressed by Chief Egwu Chima, the group’s National Research and Publicity Secretary, said the minister was misquoted.
Chima said that the minister was misrepresented in the report and quoted out of contest.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Onu allegedly made the comment when he represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the inauguration and handing over ceremony of Ecological Fund Office sponsored Flood and Erosion Control Project at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, (AE-FUTHA).
He was allegedly quoted in the media reports as saying that Nigerians would not continue to fly overseas for medical treatment.
The report reads in part: “The President, Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), on Friday, said Nigerians should not continue going abroad for medical treatment.
“Nigerians have suffered so much going abroad for medical treatment. This is not good for us and it must stop because we can’t afford it again”.
The group said that at no time in the minister’s speech or in his written address delivered on behalf of the President, did he say or suggest that Nigerians would stop travelling overseas for medical treatment.
Chima said: “TOPO feels most embarrassed and disappointed with reports making rounds in some sections of the media to the effect that the Hon. Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation has urged all Nigerians to desist from travelling abroad for medical check-up.
“The minister never said anything of the sort and nobody can substantiate that he said such a thing because all his speeches are on tape.
“We recall vividly that something close to this area of travelling abroad for medical check-ups came up during one of his speeches at the inauguration and handing over ceremony of Flood and Erosion Control Project executed by the Ecological Fund Office in AE-FUTHA on Friday, Jan 3.
“The minister in his speech mentioned the various efforts of Mr President in ensuring that Nigeria’s medical institutions are equipped to world standard for effective service delivery.
“He made special reference to the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia and the medical equipment brought in, which he said when fully operational will reduce the rate at which Nigerians travel abroad for medical check-ups.
“The language was ‘drastically reduced’ and not that Nigerians will stop from travelling abroad for medical treatment.’’
According to him, what the minister said was that the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia was being upgraded with a diagnostic centre that would have equipment comparable to what the best hospitals or best diagnostic centres anywhere in the world can offer.
“The essence is to make sure that we will no longer travel abroad just because what is wrong with us cannot be easily diagnosed.
“We want the general public to know that this said publication must have been either due to poor reportage or a mischievous one coming from quarters we do not know,” he said.
The group described Onu as a politician with proven integrity and track record of excellence who do not speak from both sides of his mouth.