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Nigeria’s twin Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratories



By Salisu Na’inna Dambatta

A report in the Nigerian Journal of Cardiology in 2021 indicates that, heart or cardio vascular diseases involving the heart and blood vessels, particularly obesity-induced hypertension, are rampaging among the youth in the country.

Cardiologists or medical doctors who specialized in the treatment of heart diseases in the country, including hypertension and heart attack, need certain vital specialized equipment to treat their patients timely and effectively. One of the facilities they urgently need is Catheterisation Laboratory (Cath Lab).

A Professor of Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Professor Kamilu Musa Karaye indicates that, Cardiac Catheterisation laboratories are specialized advanced medical technology facilities used for diagnosing and treating heart conditions. These laboratories have equipment such as X-ray machines, ultrasound devices and several other diagnostic tools.

The tools in cardiac catheterisation laboratories can also be used in various non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures such as coronary angiography, angioplasty or widening narrowed or blocked blood vessels and stent implantation. Stent implantation is done to keep blood vessels open. Beside using the Cath Lab to detect and treat the over 30 distinct types of heart diseases, surgeons use them for other interventional procedures like valve repair or replacement.

Still on what a Cath Lab is, medical Internet sites described it thus, “A Cath Lab is a specialty laboratory equipment for imaging of coronary and blood vessels in the body. Apart from displaying on the monitor, images can be seen in 360° in details and total clarity. This enable doctors to see the images from many perspectives. The clarity leads to high precision in diagnosing. A catheterisation Laboratory also enabled surgeons to conduct minimally invasive tests and procedures in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases involving the heart and blood vessels.”

The critical role Cath Lab plays in the treatment of cardiovascular heart diseases and blood vessels complications makes it a vital tool for medical doctors, especially cardiac and thoracic surgeons, the super specialists who operate on the heart, lungs, esophagus, major blood vessels inside the chest and the bony structures and tissues that form and support the chest cavity.

In other words, a Cath Lab is a one-stop facility used in procedures to detect, identify and finally treat heart diseases. But in the whole of Nigeria, there are only two catheterisation laboratories, one in a private hospital in Lagos, and the other at the State House Clinic, Abuja. Both are obviously grossly inadequate for the country’s large population.

The two Cath Labs are probably inaccessible to most patients of cardio vascular and blood vessels diseases. They may not have the financial wherewithal to afford the services available at the private one. The other one in the State House Clinic is provided to basically serve the top echelons of the country’ s political leadership.

Data from various sources indicate that Nigeria is one of the countries that suffer high death rates from various heart diseases. Professor Kamilu Musa Karaye, the professor of Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist who teaches and conducts research at the Bayero University Kano, and the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, revealed that Kano state has one of the highest rates of death from heart diseases. Such diseases are widely prevalent in Northern Nigeria. So obviously cardiacatheterizationon laboratories are urgently needed to assist cardiologists in diagnosing and treating the large number of patients before it is too late.

The two-Cath Lab status of Nigeria is surprising because the first very complicated open heart surgery was conducted in 1974, evidence of the availability of competent Cardiologists and associated personnel to make it a routine activity. It is astonishing that none of the 22 public University Teaching Hospitals, 20 Federal Medical Centres and 17 Specialist Hospitals in the country has acatheterisationn laboratory. Although the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, which serves a huge population and one or two more of the federal Teaching Hospitals are working hard to have one each, as of now that is just an aspiration.

Surprisingly, the price for Cath Lab starts from $200,000 for the most basic with few tools to $3-$6 million for the most advanced version that has sophisticated tools. The Federal Government and some philanthropists can procure Cath Labs for some of the Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres in the country. Health-care businesses can also invest in Catheterization Laboratories. Doing so will help cardiologists in doing their job faster and with greater accuracy, thereby saving precious lives. It will also contribute in minimizing foreign medical tourism.

Salisu Na’inna Dambatta is an advocate for Health Journalism

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President Tinubu, 100 days and leadership as marathon



By Abdulaziz Abdulaziz



What is leadership? Or, more correctly; what makes leadership impactful? Is leadership impact measured by the bricks and mortar actions of today or by aggregation of the strategic steps that gives a delayed but rewarding tomorrow? Is a desired leadership one that puts bought cookies on the table today or the one that aims to build bakeries and produce enough bakers to sufficiently meet our bakery needs in the future?

Well, pardon the barrage of questions, dear reader. Those are no questions that may require immediate resolution, apparent as the answers may seem. But they are vital posers that we need to ponder on in determining the marking scheme for any political leadership.

But while you are pondering, let me draw your attention to an event that occurred at the beginning of the week in Lagos. You might have read about it, or saw the exciting pictures flying around in the media. The Lagos State Government on Monday flagged off commercial operation for its Blue Light Rail Line. The governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was all smile as he joined the inaugural ride from Marina to Mile 2 in the glistening coaches. While Governor Sanwo-Olu takes the pride and the credit of being the governor under whose watch the rail line opens to passengers, the event on Monday has a history as long as the train coaches.

When the Blue Line was due for commissioning last year, Governor Sanwo-Olu himself gave a detailed recount of the actors and factors that paved the way for the Lagos light rail system. It didn’t happen over night or over the course of one administration. Indeed the story of what is now a beautiful infrastructure started with an election into office of a visionary governor and reformer-leader, over 24 years ago.

It was not Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu (as he then was) who laid the first blocks for the light rail system. He did not award the contract even. He did much more than that. His decision that Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve-centre and former capital city deserved to be more than the jungle it was, was the most important foundation, well before the engineers laid the first stones for the rail project.

The then Governor Tinubu gave the Lagos the futuristic leadership whose full benefits are still being reaped, over 15 years after he left office. The rail line, as Governor Sanwo-Olu duly acknowledged, was Tinubu’s brainchild which benefited from inputs from successive governors and technocrats before coming into fruition. The story of the Lagos light rail resembles the story of many other tangible and intangible initiatives that made Lagos a model to all states in Nigeria and an envy of its peers anywhere.

This illustration is vital especially at a time like this when a section of the public – buoyed by the media’s near canonisation of a borrowed American concept of “100 days in office” –seems to be in a frenzy to judge 1,460-day tenure by the first 100 days. Yes, there is a saying in Hausa that signs of a good Friday could be perceived from the preceding Wednesday. And in this regard the Tinubu administration has shown good signs of a great future. The strategic leadership being provided by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu are meant to put Nigeria on a sure footing for enduring progress and development.

Conscious of the usual judgement that comes at the end of the first 100 days, many leaders are wont to rush into laying blocks and asphalts to satisfy the mediocre demand of “something to show”, even if those things to show are short-lived niceties that would not translate into any long term gain. Others would opt for politically-correct adventures just to pander to populist appeals. We had, for example, a leader who within his first 100 days rolled back many critical decisions taken by his predecessor to gain public applause but over 15 years later we are here paying for those misguided decisions.

For President Tinubu, who believes, like all great leaders in history, that leadership is a quantum of critical decisions and bold steps capable of impacting positively on the society in the long run, he is in no hurry for quick applause. Quick fixes and populist actions could generate immediate praises, but to what end? For perceptive leaders, leadership is a marathon that is adjudged by how well one persevered, remained focused and strategic to get to the finished line. It is not a relay race which requires all rush and less tact.

For President Tinubu, the best measure of successful leadership is the quantum of qualitative actions and decisions not quantitative. What are the timeless policies and actions that one bequeaths to the coming generation? What are the personal examples and traits, what changes to the system were made to strengthen efficiency? In the last 100 days, President Tinubu has demonstrated that he is made of the finest stuffs as a leader, looking at these parameters.

First, he has demonstrated he possesses the salient traits of many great leaders in history; vision and courage to take action. The visionary is the one who realises the need to save the future of our children by stopping a dangerous trend of borrowing to fund fraudulent fuel subsidy. It is only a courageous leader who can dare the subsidy cabal and, against his wish, administer on the larger public the bitter pill in striking off the fuel subsidy. There are many other examples.

There were government officials who felt they were government unto themselves. Indeed some of them had set up fiefdoms within the government and felt they could even undermine the President while taking Nigerians for a ride. President Tinubu has demonstrated that this was impossible under his watch.

Yet, while taking some of the bold and courageous decisions with inadvertent impact on the average Nigerian, President Tinubu remains a very compassionate leader. I have seen him grimaced every time he discusses the pains people go through as the result of the fuel subsidy removal. He knows, because he has ears to the ground. This was why he kept prodding all officials and state governors who have the mandate to roll out government’s interventions to cushion the effect. But more importantly, he is constantly thinking and working on ways that the savings government made from the subsidy removal would go into meaningful enterprises. The priority sectors are those capable of catapulting growth, notably energy and transportation infrastructure.

Setting the building blocks for solving Nigeria’s legendary problems of dysfunctional public sector, poor revenue base and lack of optimisation of the available resources as well as resolving the infrastructure gaps are the issues on top of President Tinubu’s priority list. It is also around them that he has devoted most of his energy and attention in the last 100 days. The belief, by all development experts, is that addressing those issues are what would turnaround the fortunes of Nigeria. These are not things that can be done in 100 days but the steps to attain them are firmly on course.

Abdulaziz is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Print Media

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Embracing the power of Artificial Intelligence: Making life easier tomorrow



By Lawal Opeyemi Martha

Imagine a world where machines can help us with our everyday tasks, making life smoother and more efficient. This is the magic of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a technology that’s shaping our lives in incredible ways.

You might wonder, why should we care about AI? Well, it’s like having a super-smart friend who can assist us in getting things done faster. This cool technology is a big part of our future, and young people are encouraged to learn about it. By understanding AI, we can open doors to exciting job opportunities in the digital world.

One of the coolest things about AI is how it can be our researcher. It quickly finds the information we need, helping us learn new things or finish tasks faster. Imagine having a speedy helper that never gets tired of searching for answers!

But AI’s talents don’t stop there. It’s a growth superhero, boosting economies worldwide. A report says that by 2035, AI could contribute around $15.7 trillion to the world’s economy. That’s a massive amount of money that could make our world better if we use AI wisely.

Think of AI as a computer-powered buddy that thinks like a human. It can even do tasks like diagnosing illnesses or booking appointments, just like a smart friend would help you out. This smart sidekick can learn languages, too, making communication easier than ever.

Ever heard of Siri, the friendly voice on our phones? That’s another form of AI. It listens to our commands and makes our devices do what we want. With AI, we can talk to our phones like they’re our buddies!

AI’s creativity doesn’t stop at making our lives efficient; it’s also a whiz at creating stuff. It can help us come up with social media posts, which saves us time and energy. Just imagine having an AI friend that helps us be creative and interesting online!

In a nutshell, AI is a game-changer. It makes industries better, helps our economies grow, and even assists in healthcare and communication. As we move towards the future, embracing AI’s powers can lead us to a world where technology and humans work together, making life smoother and more exciting than ever before.

Martha is Student of Mass Communication,  writes from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State.


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Tinubu’s seven wonders in seven weeks



VILLA BEAT with Abdulaziz Abdulaziz

Tinubu’s seven wonders in seven weeks

That President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ramped up the engine of governance in Nigeria and hit the waves immediately he was sworn in on May 29, 2023, is not news anymore. From Abuja to Zurich, the story is the same: a new sheriff is in town and he is in a haste to give the giant of Africa a new lease of life.

In the seven weeks he has been on the saddle at the Presidential Villa, President Tinubu has made those who stuck out their necks for him proud. He has also put to shame those who wanted anyone but him. Those who sold a grotesque caricature of the man in a bid to stop him are embarrassed. Doubters and naysayers who were either skeptical or outrightly opposed to a Tinubu presidency are being converted not by propaganda but by the weight of the man’s actions.

Just as I was settling down to work on this piece a cerebral friend, who I know as not generous with praises, called me to confess how he was “happily disappointed” by President Tinubu’s leadership skills. He has now been converted to be a BAT cheerleader.

For my friend and many others, there are myriad of things that President Tinubu has done or traits he has exhibited in the past seven weeks that they never thought he could do. Some of us are not entirely surprised having had the opportunity to see the President at close quarters.

In the run-off to the election, the opposition threw spanners in the works, pulling the wool over the eyes of many Nigerians. But with President Tinubu now at the centre stage, at a vantage position for all to see the stuff he is made up, most Nigerians are now wiser.
In public and in small group chitchats, the talk now is how the President has been performing wonders to the surprise of many. Here I curate a few of the talking points on the lips of many Nigerians.

1. ENERGY, SHEER ENERGY: One of the first wonders for many people who were brainwashed into believing candidate Tinubu was some walking-dead person was the energy they now see him exude effortlessly. Some of us who were in the campaign had seen the real Asíwájú on the hustings, different from the insinuations and fake news they peddled out there. In a piece just before the election, I wrote that Candidate Tinubu worked more than any other candidate. It was no exaggeration. The man visited all states, some of them more than once. He never rested. In fact, some times, he would have to be begged, cajoled or even compelled to take a rest as he worked even into the morning hours of the next day.

Nigerians began to see this energy from the inauguration day where President Tinubu stood through the long inauguration ceremony. Immediately afterwards, he moved to the State House for another long ritual of standing to receive the retinue of world leaders for pleasantries and photo opportunity. From that moment, governance began and it’s no stopping. For many State House staff it was strange that the President would be in the office everyday of the week till late hours. Often very late. Many would have to quickly adjust to the extended schedule of the new Sheriff.

2. DECISIVENESS: In the weeks since coming on board, President Tinubu has demonstrated that important attribute of a leader: Decisiveness. It was the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who said while a leader should always target the right thing in moments of decision, the worst thing to do is to do nothing.

Like all great leaders in history, President Tinubu has demonstrated that he is no fence-sitter in the business of governance. With him, there is no beating about the bush or procrastination in matters that require expeditious attention. Thus far, the President has left no one in doubt that he is fully in charge and responsible for decisions taken by his administration. No shadow president somewhere or some clearing houses outside of the precincts of the President’s office.

With uncommon courage, President Tinubu has taken a number of decisions, which surprised many observers. Some of these decisions were on mattees hitherto considered too hot to handle. The gist in town is the feeling that the country is not on autopilot. One may disagree with the direction he goes but no one will accuse him of taking no decision at all. Yet, in taking these decisions President Tinubu has proven to be an inclusive leader who consults widely and falls for the wisest of counsel. His mantra is “open door policy”.

Among other many voices home and abroad, the Oba of Benin, Omon’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Ewuare II, expressed awe at the President’s energy and decisiveness when he visited him last week. “We’ve predicted that you will hit the ground running and you have done so, even faster than we thought,” the monarch said, wondering where the President tremendous energy comes from.

3. KILLING THE SUBSIDY LEECHES: It was a shock to many when on May 29 President Tinubu pronounced the subsidy leech dead. It was one decision that generated a lot of positive reactions home and abroad. Yes, it comes with some pains in form of inflationary trends but it is a concensus that it is the least pain to bear compared with the crumbling effect of continuous payment of subsidy on the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

In later speeches, President Tinubu would liken the current situation to the pains of labour and the happiness that comes with childbirth. We are currently experiencing labour pains but in the end, Nigerians would smile, like a mother who is comforted the sight of a new baby.

The wisdom is already glaring. Two videos hit the social media since that decision. One was of a group of young people in one of the neighbouring countries lamenting the subsidy removal in Nigeria. The latest I watched showed a large number of fuel kegs and drums at a village along the border that have been rendered fallow by the subsidy removal. The village bristled with Nigeria’s smuggled fuel until May 29.

The magic reflected in the numbers as well. The regulator reported daily fuel consumption figures falling by a whooping 35 percent.

4. SAVING THE NAIRA FROM THE RENT-SEEKERS: For years, experts and economists have warned that the hitherto way of managing our forex was unsustainable. Buoyed by permissible Central Bank management, rent-seekers had taken over, cashing out at the expense of our collective misery. While it was increasingly difficult for ordinary Nigerian to get a few thousands of dollars to meet essential needs, a few people got huge allocations at unrealistic rates from the source. They then round trip it to the parallel market where they cash out bigly with no sweat!

Speaking at a civic reception in his honour at the Lagos House, Marina, during the Eid break, President Tinubu told the audience that the arrangement he met was tempting that he could choose to keep it and benefit from it. The multiple forex window had for a while served as an avenue of dispensing favours to family members and friends. His own family and associates could have been smiling to the banks, but “God forbid!” he said.

The decision has since restored confidence in the Nigerian economy with the Nigerian Stocks recording all time highs, and investors betting on our market.

5. HALTING A LOOMING STRIKE: The atmosphere was charged as the organised labour charged at the government for President Tinubu’s bold decision to stop the fuel subsidy hemorrhage. Typical of its default mode, organised labour saw the decision as an affront on the poor. They wanted the decision reversed and issued a notice of strike. It was President Tinubu’s first leadership test.

The skillful manager of men and materials he is, the President immediately swung into action inviting the labour leaders to negotiation table. Using facts and figures, he made them see the reason for the decision.

6. GETTING NIGERIA’S MOJO BACK ON THE GLOBAL STAGE: There is no gainsaying Nigeria’s respect and leadership role in the subregion and beyond are renewed. At his first outing with ECOWAS, President Tinubu was unanimously elected by his colleagues as the new chairman of the regional body. He has since gone on to demonstrate leadership at that level as well as evidenced by his inaugural speech after taking over. “Nigeria is back” he roared. The dignifying address was reminiscent of Murtala Muhammed’s January 1976 address in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Like General Muhammed, President Tinubu is a pan-Africanist who believes in the continent’s ability to tackle its own challenges and equal treatment at the global stage.

Beyond the West Africa and the larger continent, President Tinubu is coveted by all. Recall the warmth and affectionate welcome by President Macron?

7. BRILLIANT OFF-THE-CUFF SPEECHES: President Tinubu has been regailing his audience with off-the-cuff straight-from-the-heart speeches. For a man with original ideas and clarity of vision he needed no cosmetic scripting. This has enabled the President to speak from the heart and connect more intimately with his audience. The brilliance of these speeches did not only draw applause, though claps can be for eye service, their deeper meanings also excite much after. The speeches change opinions about the President and turn the heart and minds. They draw respect.

A Labour Party lawmaker from Abia State, Hon. Amobi Oga, is one such person mesmerized by the President’s hearty address when he met lawmakers-elect on June 8, ahead of the National Assembly inauguration.

“Today is my best day. Today, I’m so happy that I’m an elected member seeing my President talking. In fact, I’ve never known that this man is so intelligent,” Oga told reporters at the end of the close door session. “I never knew that this man is so prepared to serve this country. I saw the love, character, and charisma — the belief that Nigeria can be a better nation.”

Indeed with the demonstrated leadership of President Tinubu “Nigeria can be better again”, to borrow the phrase of Rep Oga.

Abdulaziz, a presidential media aide, writes from Abuja

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