Posted by Mazi Odera, Awka | 6 July 2013 | 7,550 times
World’s richest man and famed philanthropist Bill Gates has showered praise on Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State for his commitment to childhood immunisation and the eradication of polio from the state.
“Your commitment to eradicate polio and strengthen routine immunization in Anambra State, your personal leadership and support for these efforts and your engagement with traditional rulers in 2012 has been impressive,” Gates, who is Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told Obi in the letter dated March 20, 2013 and personally signed by him.
He hoped that with the kind of leadership being provided by Obi, Nigeria would soon eradicate polio, “thus benefitting Nigeria’s children for generations to come.” The Microsoft founder pledged his foundation’s funding for Anambra’s health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) projects.
Meanwhile, Obi was yesterday conferred with the Best Performing Governor on the Eradication of Polio in the South-East by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at a well attended ceremony at the Women’s Development Centre in the Anambra State capital, Awka. The award goes with a cash prize of N120 million.
Speaking while presenting the award to Gov. Obi, the Minister of State for health, Dr. Mohammad Bate, said the award was not by chance as Gov Obi had distinguished himself in the health sector. The minister cited achievements such as the provision of ambulances to hospitals, accreditation of schools of midwifery and partnership with the Church as some of Obi’s legacies. He noted that the state had remained polio-free in the past five years.
Responding, Gov. Obi thanked the minister for coming to the state to present the award on behalf of Bill Gates and Melinda Foundation. He noted with satisfaction that it was not one of the awards anyone could suspect as having been bought and said that his administration would match the N120m it received with another N180m which would be ploughed into the building of ten more health centres in the state.
Recalling some of his strides in the health sector, the governor cited the state’s first teaching hospital as an example.
“What happened was that the government of the day admitted medical students without a medical school in place and the assessors said they would not accredit the university but I pleaded with them when I came in to give me two or three years to put a teaching hospital in place but they could not believe me as they thought it impossible that a teaching hospital could be built in two, three years. It was one of them that pleaded with them to give me a chance and they did. When they returned at the appointed time they were shocked to see the teaching hospital in place. It has since become the fastest teaching hospital to be built in Nigeria,” Obi stated to the applause of the packed audience.
•Photo shows Gov. Peter Obi (right) receiving the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award from the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate (left).
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