By Asteroid Bassey
Since the controversial removal of Dr Aniekeme Uwah as the Akwa Ibom State Epidemiologist, several lies have continuously been peddled by media hirelings of ‘powers that be’ to smear the character of the renowned and celebrated medical expert. Ordinarily , one would not bother about their mischief; but in an article titled ” COVID-19 testing and controversies in Akwa Ibom” published in some national dailies and online platforms by Usman Yusuf ( obviously a fake name), the hireling struggled albeit unsuccessfully to paint a picture of Dr Aniekeme Uwah being removed for unethical practices.
As the Akwa Ibom NMA PRO stated on a Live radio interview, after the infamous redeployment, the reason for Dr Aniekeme Uwah’s removal as state Epidemiologist was his refusal to carry out the Commissioner for health’s bidding of testing only 10 persons instead of 31 who had met the case definition .
To cover up the overwhelming public backlash that greeted the politicization of Dr Uwah’s removal, aides and hirelings of ‘powers that be’ have tried justifying the removal of the epidemiologist by first claiming he “banged the phone on the Governor ” to later changing the story, that the cerebral Doctor is responsible for the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state amongst other fables.
This only proves the truism , that ” to cover up one lie, many other lies will have to be told…” and desperately so if I may add.
Some of the despicable falsehood peddled against Dr Aniekeme Uwah include falsifying NCDC results.This assertion betrays the writer’s ignorance of the procedures for sample collection and test results.
As the State Epidemiologist, it should be noted that Dr Uwah worked with an incident Management Committee (IMC) which included doctors and other Supervisory agencies like NCDC and the World Health Organization(WHO).
It is under the watchful eyes of these disciplined medical professionals, that samples which meet case definition are gotten and sent to laboratories in Edo State or Ebonyi State with adequate security escort. The results are instantly communicated by the Laboratory to the NCDC headquarters and the state is copied.
One wonders how Dr Aniekeme Uwah had the powers to change negative results in these laboratories to positive and subsequently force or bribe 12 persons (as at when he was epidemiologist) who were predominantly medics to move into the Isolation Center for treatment. This thinking is not only absurd, but smirks of conspiracy by the writer and cohorts.
Moreover, four new positive cases have been confirmed after he was redeployed as state Epidemiologist, did he still influence those results?
In another online defamatory write up by yet another faceless hireling Bassey Wils, it was alleged that the former Epidemiologist was angered that his proposal for purchase of laboratory equipment was rejected.
This is obviously far from the truth. The writer is obviously unaware of the workings of Government and the procedures for procurement in a ministry that has a Commissioner. Even if the Epidemiologist would have recommended that the state had its own laboratory to stop incessant travels to other states for tests confirmations, it would best remain only a novel suggestion as the implementation of such ideas rest between the Commissioner for health and agencies of Government responsible for such procurement .
The said fake Bassey Wils also blamed the former Epidemiologist for the embarrassment the state suffered during it’s infamous imbrioglio with NCDC over the 5 index cases..This is a case of selective amnesia suffered by Blackmailer hiding under the moniker of Bassey Wils. For the avoidance of doubt, It was the Commissioner for Health who held a world press conference to disagree with the results of the 5 index cases and NCDC procedures not Dr Aniekeme Uwah. This further goes to buttress the allegations against ” Powers” over their intentions to suppress testing to avoid a record of high positive results by the state as stated by the NMA PRO on radio.
Further more, the fake Bassey Wills claimed Dr Aniekeme Uwah went against NCDC guidelines which stated that only 10 samples should be sent in a day.
For avoidance of doubt, it must be stated unequivocally that such guidelines does not exist.
On April 27, 2020 Dr Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator presidential task force ( PTF) on COVID-19 said on National TV and i quote ” I will like to emphasize that there is no limit to testing when it comes to COVID-19. Covid numbers is not an issue of competition between states. There is no shame if a state comes up with positive numbers. In other to deal with an epidemic, we need to have transparency in numbers and that transparency is linked to the number of tests. If you do not know the extent of the problem, you will not be able to deal with it. I am appealing to state governments to please continue helping the state emergency operating centers and state ministry of health to make sure that everybody that needs to be tested has the opportunity to get the test done ” .
One would expect that after such affirmative words by the PTF on no ceilings for tests , Fake Bassey Wils and his gang of liars will bury their heads in shame.
It shouldn’t be taken for granted that the suspected case confirmed positive from the 31 would have been missed if Dr Aniekeme Uwah had carried out the Commissioner ‘s directive to take only 10samples. This most likely would have led to more spread of the pandemic in the state if that suspected case was not tested or would have made the health of the patient worse if not timely diagnosed.
Apart from this, a large number of Doctors who were exposed to COVID-19 had been out of work for up to a month on self isolation because they had not been tested, thus leading to loss of man hours and critical essential services, and inadvertently leading to denial of life – saving services by these experts to those who needed their expertise.
The fact that Dr Aniekeme Uwah insisted on these Doctors getting tested as part of the 31 , helped seventeen out of the eighteen of them whose results came out negative return to work at the University of Uyo teaching Hospital almost immediately.
Dr Aniekeme Uwah should be commended for such clinical dexterity. This tests are conducted free of charge by NCDC, so why the fuss of testing a large number? Why the insistence of testing a smaller number when everyone that met case definition at the time could be tested at once to save time and ensure clinical efficacy?
The state loses nothing by testing more as tests are free of charge. Instead, the more agressive it gets with testing, the clearer the picture of viral penetration. That is pure Epidemiology!
In the words of Dr Emmanuel John, the NMA PRO on radio, ” testing is a clinical decision. And no doctor should have recourse to a political mastermind before taking such decisions”
Another allegation by Bassey Wils bothering a late surgeon need not be dignified for the respect of the dead and family. But it must be noted that the allegations remain false and spurious, tailored only the damage reputation of Dr Aniekeme Uwah. fortunately for every discerning mind, Bassey Wil’s campaign of calumny has largely been mischievous, comic at it’s best and utterly balderdash.
Fake Bassey Wil’s nonsensical allegation of having evidence of text messages between Dr Aniekeme Uwah and “middle men” is not only absurd and baseless but further attempts to ‘give a dog a bad name in order to hang it’. Such text messages remain only in the conjecture of his imagination. If there is any iota of truth, I challenge fake Bassey Wils to produce such evidences in court or forever bury his head in the pit of hell.
Lastly Fake Bassey Wils, a leader of the blackmail syndicate alleged that Dr Aniekeme Uwah put the state in bad light during a National Survey that ranked the state as leading in the number of persons living with HIV/AIDs in the country. He doesn’t realize that his particular allegation, provides more evidence as to the unquenching thirst for suppressing data and statistics by those in authority.
The fact remains that after the result of the HIV/AIDs National and Impact survey was published in Abuja by Federal Ministry Of Health, Dr Aniekeme Uwah moved by passion and love for his people, sensitized the public on the dangers of HIV/ AIDs and how infection can be reduced.
He admonished on Abstainance, faithfulness to sexual partners, usage condoms and usage of anti-retroviral drugs to suppress the viral load thereby hindering further transmission.
In saner climes, Such patriotic zeal, would been encouraged ; as truly there is need for sensitization of the masses whose majority especially in rural areas are still in illusion about HIV/AIDs.
Instead of commending Dr Uwah for putting in time and personal resources to educate the masses, the “powers that be” sternly condemned Dr Aniekeme Uwah for educating the masses about HIV/AIDs and claimed he put state in bad light. He was queried! What a sad irony!
One would ask, what is the gain of the state if it hides the figures of the HIV/AIDs prevalence from the masses? What is the intention of hiding the result of the national survey? To record more infections due to ignorance of the populace? It has been a long walk to trampling on truth, honesty and dedication to duty.
In the court of public opinion, Dr Aniekeme Uwah has acquitted himself as a professional of unparalleled integrity.
A courageous medical doctor whose commitment to the service of humanity is common to none.
Dr Uwah is loyal to the Hippocratic oath and will remain resolute in advocating for better health care delivery to the people.
His award of Honor by the African Union for dedicating Six months of his life to Liberia in the fight of Ebola remains indelible.
He was also honoured as the most outstanding NMA state chairman by the National President and National Officers Committee of the NMA during his tenure as Chairman.
His exploits as NMA Chairman include building the first Doctors Mess in Nigeria, The first NMA Clinic in Nigeria, Doctors Court as well as numerous free Surgical outreach accross the state.
It is worthy of note that during his tenure as NMA Chairman, he pushed for the establishment of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency and State Insurance Scheme.
In the past two years, Dr Aniekeme Uwah was the chairman Planning Committee of National Physicians Week in Rivers State and Ondo State as well as the chairman Planning committee of the National Executive Council meeting of the Association in Akwa Ibom State. This is a testament to his Sterling leadership qualities which has earned him the trust of his colleagues Nationwide.
As State Epidemiologist, Dr Aniekeme Uwah’s achievements are enormous but to mention
1. Partnering with WHO to donate motorcycles to all the 31 Disease Surveillance Officers (DSNOs) in the 31 LGAs in the state to enhance their mobility.
2. Training of the 31DSNOs and other Health workers on frontline field epidemiology in partnership with AFENET.
3. Donation of Lap top computers and android phones to all the 31DSNOs to enhance their disease surveillance activities etc
Recently , Dr Aniekeme Uwah was appointed Secretary of the Common Wealth Medical Association’s Committee on Covid-19 response. The Common Wealth Comprises of 54 countries accross all continents. Only Men of proven track record get such International appointments.
These and more are some of Dr Aniekeme Uwah’s legacies that his blackmailers cannot wish away.
No greater testimonial would Dr Uwah wish for in times like this, than that of The DG of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu who while responding to the redeployment saga on national TV said “The state Epidemiologist, Dr Aniekeme Uwah is a great colleague who did his work creditably. He is one of my great colleagues .. we worked on Ebola outbreak together. I wish him well in his new assignment”.
I understand that Dr Uwah’s traducers and their media hirelings are intimidated by his towering profile. I would rather implore them to work hard on improving their miserable lives rather than constantly attempt to defame and disparage a man whose track record is way beyond their reach. It will remain a mere waste of time!
It is worthy of note, that Dr Aniekeme Uwah’s removal as state Epidemiologist to suppress Covid 19 test results has already made him a hero, a professional of no mean repute in the court of public opinion and no volume of blackmail can change that narrative!
* Bassey, a public affairs commentator, sent this from Uyo