How Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital Hid Details of N3.07billion Covid-19 Awarded Contracts
Entry type: Single project
Publishing organisation: The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR),
Reuben Abati (https://www.reubenabati.com.ng/index.php/component/k2/how-obafemi-awolowo-teaching-hospital-hid-details-of-n3-07-billion-covid-19-awarded-contracts)
Organisation size: Small
Publication date: 2022-08-11
Authors: Olugbenga Adanikin
I am a multiple-award-winning journalist with a blazing passion for investigative journalism, health reporting, and covering of issues around the sustainable development goals. I love journalism because it makes the world a better place. It gives voice to the voiceless, and this, I believe, is my life-long purpose.
I strongly believe the media has a cardinal role to play to promote social justice in the society.
The article uncovered the breach of the Nigeria’s Public Procurement Act (PPA 2007), designed by the Federal Government to promote accountability and transparency in government spendings (Open Governance).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors and agencies of government took advantage of the COVID-19 restrictions to steal public funds, hoard contract information from the public and misled the people.
This entry, however, establsihed how the law was breached by the culprit – the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital. Contrary to its claim, it clearly revealed the exact sum management of the hospital got as part of COVID-19 interventions to manage the pandemic.
Through the article, members of the public, especially medical practitioners became familiar with the huge investment made into the health sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. This became more interesting to them because a lot of Nigerian doctors were leaving the country for the United Kingdom (UK), Saudi Arabia due to poor welfare and facilities. The findings in the report, however, generated reactions and public engagements.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and other stakeholders in the health sector began to ask critical questions from medical directors and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health.
One of the findings in the report was that Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people has only two modern cancer treament machines. This has largely contributed to poor management of cancer patients. This finding was also validated by the former Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole.
Open Source Investigation Techniques – through this, I was able to identify and analyse Covid-19 procurement data housed in the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO).
Canva – I used this tool to design and showcase almost the exact equipment the culprit bought without adhering to the procurement law.
Photo paint – From the backend of word press, i embedded photographs into the article.
Scribd – With this tool, i was able to embed a 5-page document listing the amount released to each federal hospital from the government coffer.
Context about the project:
For a fact, the management of the hospital was unwilling to open up for this reporter to check its COVID-19 support expenditure. This was after initial appointments, and repeated emails. As a result, this reporter went undercover for the investigation.
In the process of the fact-finding mission, the photo camera which serve as a major work tool accidentally dropped and crashed. It almost ended the investigation because the whole exercise had become a covert operation. I ended up procuring another before the investigation could resume.
Worthy of note is that Nigeria is struggling with brain drain in the heath sector. Most health officials including nurses are migrating to the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, most of the interventions provided through public donations might end up in rots because of low workforce to manage them.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
The right use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, and the need to go undercover when the source (public office) decides to hide information of public good from the public.
Also, the need to “show”, rather than “tell”. This methodology is so important to boost credibility of your report. Beyond telling stories, people are more interested in evidence. It will enable them make informed decision, and to take the appriopriate action.
Lastly, the right use of infographics.