OPM and the Aluu Debacle: Fate of Patients as Church Shuts Free Hospital Because of Community Levies

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OPM and the Aluu Debacle: Fate of Patients as Church Shuts Free Hospital Because of Community Levies
Nwolu Obiajulu

On Sunday, the 5th of July, the General Overseer of Omega Power Ministries (OPM), Apostle Chibuzor Gift Chinyere announced plans to shut down OPM specialist hospital in Aluu community, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The closure came as a protest to what the Apostle Chinyere described as indiscriminate levies imposed on the hospital by the host community. This he said came despite the selfless services that OPM renders to the community without any financial gain.

The hospital which was opened in April 18, 2019 to offer 24 hours services to Nigerians irrespective of their religious affiliation was famed for offering free medical care especially to women and children.

The charitable gesture has been met with an undesirable reaction from the host community prompting the General Overseer to say in a statement, “This very hard decision was taken as a result of levies imposed on the hospital by the Aluu community.

“OPM free specialist hospital has saved so many lives free of charge. It will interest the public to know that from registration, antenatal, scan, delivery, drugs and postnatal services are free. This is a free hospital which does not discriminate”.

Apostle Chinyere lamented that the free specialist hospital which has saved so many lives free of charge will be brought to an abrupt halt.

He said, “I feel sad for those pregnant women who have been using the hospital. I urge them to look for another hospital. All patients have been advised to stop coming to the hospital for now.”

The OPM sited 12 free estates, one free specialist hospital and one of the biggest free skills acquisition centres in Nigeria in Aluu community.

The General Overseer has since then announced that the church has been offered a free land to build a new hospital in Ogoni. He wrote on his official Facebook page, “Breaking news…
Property has been donated in Ogoni for free hospital. So OPM free hospital will be relocating to Ogoni”.

Though the Apostle claims to have contacted community heads who affirmed that the levy was compulsory, the community has rebuffed the claims.

The community leaders have appealed to OPM to reconsider relocating the specialist hospital in view of the essential service it renders to the needy.

Chairman of Ogbakor Aluu, Stanley Orji, expressed appreciation to the church for the free medical services provided for the less-privileged ones in the community.

Orji asked the General Overseer to report anyone trying to levy the free specialist hospital to Ogbakor Aluu, insisting that anyone who has been asking the hospital for levy has been acting without authorisation from the community heads.

He said: “I want to use this medium to reassure OPM and the general public that it is free and safe to continue operation here without hate or molest. That, if anybody should dare come to demand any dime from you, bring it to our notice. We appreciate what he (General Overseer) is doing in our land”.

As the disagreement lingers, the patients who are most affected seem to have the least influence in determining the fate of the hospital. The women and children who have been the beneficiaries of the free health care which the hospital has been providing, most of whom cannot afford healthcare have neither played a role in the imposition of the levies nor being consulted as the management seeks to relocate the hospital.

It is expected that for a country like Nigeria where maternal fatality rate hanks high, that community leaders should put community interest above private gains. The leaders of Aluu community must expedite efforts at resolving the misunderstanding with the management of the OPM hospital.

The plight of the less privileged who stand to be ejected if the closure takes effect should be considered and put above any grievance or temporary financial gains which the community stands to gain. For a church that has invested so much towards the growth and development of the community, efforts should be made at sustaining mutual understanding and fostering sustainable rapport between the hospital and the host community.

The OPM on the other hand, having shown commitment by investing so much in humanity in demonstration of their humanitarian gesture, should give a listening ear to the leaders who have distanced themselves from the levy. This should rather serve as an avenue to deepen their relationship with the community as well as widen their horizon by establishing a new branch in the land offered to them in Ogoni land.

This dispute should be utilized for positive growth and expansion of the reach of the hospital in Nigeria.

 

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