The Making of Ogbuebulle Health Centre

The Making of Ogbuebulle Health Centre

…The Untold Story of NANNNA’s Efforts Toward Universal Health Coverage

By Ojiaku Kalu

The Journey To Ogbuebulle:

I spent the first weekend of this April at a community with a somewhat intriguing name: Ogbuebulle. It

was one of those journalistic expeditions from which I derive indescribable kick; and this particular one

wasn’t a disappointment – even though some challenges threatened its embarkation.

 As a media scholar and teacher, my Department of Mass Communication, in adherence to the country’s regulating agency for universities – the National Universities Commission [NUC]’s quest for sustainable modification of the programme, had added Health Communication as a course for my students at the Evangel University

Akaeze. So, we needed to do some research to enable us deepen the course content. Particularly, there

was need for us to have an empirical study of a functional primary healthcare centre -especially one

established by its host-community; that is if ever we could find one of such! It was hereupon that Miss

Chioma Uruakpa, one of the students and native of Oboro, pointed the Department to Ogbuebulle and

its primary healthcare centre. As the Head of Department, I had volunteered for the trip – after several

declines by my colleagues.

Ogbuebulle turned out as a sprawling community along the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Highway in the

Ikwuano Local government Area of Abia State. Despite the encroachment of western civilization and

resultant tampering of its aboriginal look and feel, Ogbuebulle still bears visible traces of peace and

quiet in its surroundings – indeed, a major attraction for anyone seeking escape from the noise of city


Although I had been told the prospective health facility promised an interesting content –going by the

history of its establishment and operation, I was nevertheless awed at what I met upon my arrival. The

physical facility is as impressive as its evolution – so much so that my journeyed of an upward of 155

kilometres was worth it.

The OGBUEBULLE HEALTH CENTRE, it seems, was destined to never come about – but for the arduous

push by some members of that community who were determined that some of the developmental

indices obtainable in their various places of residence were replicated in their native land. And that had

proven a tall order at the beginning. Indeed, their quest to link their kith and kin to modern healthcare

was a tortuous one. Without the benefit of retrospection, most of the present beneficiaries of the

health centre; and indeed, contemporary crop of politicians now superintending over it [directly and

indirectly] may imagine that its establishment was a mere walk in the park. But that would be far from

the truth!

The present Ogbuebulle Community Health Centre was attracted and constructed in the year 2020by

the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [NANNNA] under the facilitation of an

illustrious daughter of the land – Dr. [Mrs.] Ngozi Florence Mbibi – a professional nurse of global repute

and founding member of that continental medical-intervention organization – with additional

contribution from [the] Ogbuebulle Community Development Union [OCDU]. Indeed, for future

researchers on rural development through concerted communal efforts – devoid of input from

government, this health centre would be an empirical example.

The idea of a primary health centre for the people of Ogbuebulle came out of dire necessity – given the

Relative perennial maternal mortality in the area prior to its establishment – as is still significantly typical

of many rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Before the coming of that primary health centre, the

entire stretch of Ala-AlaOboro area– comprising of the 9 villages of Abala, Umuchukwu, Obokporo,

Obodo, Umukpabi, NdiNkporo, Umuebulle ukwu, NdiEkpinma, and Umuoyi was completely bereft of

even the least semblance of a community health outpost.

That was unacceptable and posed a serious health crisis for the population of well over 71,000 as at 2012 – according to a study. Hitherto, for every health emergency, the people had to travel all the way to Umuahia – the capital city of Abia State – a distance of some 20 Kilometres, to be attended to at its Federal Medical Centre, or made do with the services of the then dispensary at Ariam – run by one Mazi Uma.

As crucial as a health centre is to rural development, successive authorities – council and state, never

saw the need to site one to cater for the teeming populace of AlaAla Oboro and its immediate environs

– which was a clear contravention of the WHO stipulation for community health care regime – especially

for rural Africa, which recommends at least a primary health care centre for an average population of

10, 000 people. And Ogbuebuelle as an integral community of AlaAla Oboro since 2020s, has had some

good population to merit the siting of a primary health outpost by government.

So, regardless of how loud the peasants of that significant territory of the Ikwuano Local Government

Area criedout to successive administrations in the state, it was never loud enough to attract sympathy

from the authorities on their health security – at least for their teeming childbearing, infant, and aged


 Looking back, it is now not clear whether the failure to site a healthcare centre in the community was an outright neglect on the part of the state; or lack of political clout on the part of the community’s leadership. What has however gone into records is that the entire AlaAla Oboro was denied a primary health facility up until just the past 15 years – in spite of the [evident] collateral effects of such

inaction on the poor masses!

The Birthing of A Health Centre: However, once the community identified the undeniable relevance of a primary health centre and its urgency in their territory, the quest for it assumed a life of its own – especially among its native elites.

While some well-meaning stakeholders crusaded among their kinfolk for its establishment; another

deeply concerned individual – Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Florence Mbibi – a professional nurse in diaspora, had to

kick-start [in real term] and finally drive the process to reality.

According to Mr Okaraonwolu Michael Ifeanyichukwu – the immediate past youth president of the

community, the idea of a health centre for the area was mooted some 15 years ago – with some of the

pioneer crusaders being the late AnyalewechiJibueze – a retired banker, Elder E. N. Nwagbo – a retired

teacher and one-time councilor representing Oboro Ward 4 in the Ikwuano L.G.A.; and another son of

the community, Onyenaturuchi Okeugo, still serving at the Department of State Services [DSS].

These three men took steps toward the realization of the then vision of a health centre at Ogbuebulle.

However, the dream could not materialize – even with their efforts at the time, due to lack of

[a]communal land on which to site it.

The idea would remain a mere dream until February of 2018 when one Onyeze Nwandu, a local

immunization officer then with the Local Government, was approached by Michael Okaraonwolu – a

close friend of his, for advice on how to go about realizing the lingering dream. It was through the

guidance of that immunization officer that a 2-room shop was located and eventually paid for by the

Ogbuebulle Youth Association – under the leadership of its then president, Mike Okaraonwolu, for its

take off.

Before the ultimate take off of the health centre, the then Health Authority Secretary of the Ikwuano L.G

A., Mrs. Catherine Nwosu, visited the proposed site and approved what had been put on ground by the

promoters. Coincidentally, on that very day of her visit and approval in February of 2018, the women of

Ogbuebulle were having their general meeting.

 And one of the community leaders, High Chief EronduEze, accompanied by the youth president, took the L.G.A. Health Secretary to the venue of the meeting and broke the good news to the joy of the womenfolk. So, one would not be wrong to say the Ogbuebulle Health Centre was established [in principle] on that day of February 2018.

With that statutory approval, everybody rallied behind everybody in communal cooperation, toward the

actual birthing of a functional health centre for the community. And so it was that the Ogbuebulle

Health Centre was eventually inaugurated on the 5th of April 2018and operated from that rented

location until the 8th day of April, 2021 – a total period of 3 calendar years.

Movement To The New Site:

Recalling the evolvement of the Health Centre, the Vice President General of the Ogbuebulle

Community Development Union [OCDU], Elder Chief Ejindu Ndubuisi Osuh said, ‘it was during the

second year of the Centre’s operation at the old site that one of our beloved daughters, Dr. Mrs.

Florence Ngozi Mbibi, informed the community through its leadership, that her professional association

– the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [otherwise known as NANNNA, and of

which she was then the President] had decided to adopt a community health centre around the environ

and had availed her some money to renovate such a centre to service the primary health needs of the

beneficiary community.

However, there was a caveat attached to the offer by NANNNA, the donor organization. The condition was that such a health centre must be in a facility owned by the community; and NOT in a rented accommodation.

Upon receiving such a cheering hint, the Ogbuebulle community mobilized and started scouting fora

piece of land on which the health centre may be relocated. They were determined not to miss such a

rare opportunity of finally actualizing their longstanding dream of attaining a universal health

coverage. Recalling the length of time and resources the people had expended on their quest for a

standard health centre without government support, this offer by Dr. Florence Ngozi Mbibi and her

professional association, was Heaven sent.

The people were determined to make further sacrifices to achieve such an amenity in their domain. And

so, the search for a permanent location began in earnest. It was in the course of their search for

some land that someone remembered the empty portion of the expanse land on which both the

Ogbuebulle Central Primary School and the Ogbuebulle Community Secondary School are built.

Just then, a consensus was reached that that empty portion of the school land was perfect for the

proposed infrastructure– especially because it was a communal property, and had long been designated

by their fore bears for such a project, whenever there was need for it in the future.

Being that the two schools are run by government and the said land within their compound, the

community directed the 3-man team of Mike Okaranwolu, Super High Chief Erondu Eze, and Elder Chief

Ejindu Osuh to meet with the then principal of the secondary school, one Mrs. Ogbonna, and inform her

of the community’s desire to site the health centre thereon to serve the primary health needs of the

schools and the locales.

Following her advice, they wrote and jointly signed a letter to the state Ministry of Education [under the commissionership of Dr. K.C.K. Nwangwa] requesting its permission to allow the community’s use of the school land for the proposed health centre, and got approval thereto.

Upon that approval from the Ministry, the leadership of Ogbuebulle got back to NANNNA – the donor

organization, through its then president, Dr. Ngozi Florence Mbibi, for the financial pledge. The donor

fund from the National Association of Nigeria Nurses in North America [NANNNA]was released to the

community and with it, the community started construction of the permanent site of the health centre.

Dr. Ngozi Mbibi soon brought another tranche of money after that first one as the building progressed.

Buoyed by the speedy progress of the project, the Building Committee created a WhatsApp platform:

the Ogbuebulle Progressives, to acquaint their sons and daughters in diaspora of the new development

and they started their voluntary donations.

Whatever donations that came through that source was remitted to the Ogbuebuelle Community Federated Development Union [OCDU – of which Engr.Okechukwu Agbaja is the President General, and Elder Chief Ejindu Osuh is the VP] for the project.

‘’In fact, such was the cooperation of members of the community in diaspora that this building you now

see was realized within 4 months – from September to December of 2020’’, said Elder Chief Ejindu Osuh,

the Vice President General of the OCDU. ‘’…and in the first week of January 2021, Dr. Florence Ngozi

Mbibi brought her team of medics from NANNNA – comprising of nurses and doctors, and ran a full-day

awareness clinic to announce the readiness of the permanent site of the health centre for public use.

The present Ogbuebulle Health Centre was officially inaugurated on the 3nd of January 2021 by His Royal Highness, Eze Kalu Omeleobum Uja, the traditional ruler of Ala-Ala Oboro Autonomous Community.’’

Government Support For The Project: Asked to speak to government’s financial support in the course of the project, Super High Chief Erondu stated, ‘’it is noteworthy that the cost of this project – from foundation to inauguration was borne by the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America [NANNNA] – through our daughter, Dr. Mrs Ngozi Florence Mbibi; plus additional donation from the people of Ogbuebuelle under the auspices of the Ogbuebuelle Community Development Federated [OCDU].

 Since its inception till date, the community has never gotten any financial support from government. It was entirely the making of NANNNA and support from OCDU’’.

Continuing with his recollections, Chief Erondu said, ‘’Remember that this Health Centre had been in

continuous operation since 2018 from its temporary location.

 When the community established the Centre – of course, being a community health centre, it has to be under the government – regardless of how it came to be established. So, upon its establishment, the government provided the nurses for its

day to day operation. In essence, the government only provided the personnel to run its daily activities.

Upon completion of this permanent site, all the staff of the Centre from the old site moved to the new

site and continued their work. Besides the staffing, government however donated the following items: 3

beds, 1 stand fan, 1 table [for front desk purposes] and 2 plastic chairs to the Centre, and nothing


Corroborating Chief Erondu’s submission, Elder Osuh said: ‘’After the first tranche of money from

NANNNA, Dr. Mrs. Mbibi brought in another tranche of money from her own purse and with that, the

project was able to take off properly. After these lump sums from NANNNA and Dr. Mbibi, members of

the community in diaspora – under the OCDU, contributed through crowd funding to ensure that the

project continued without a hitch.

Apart from these three sources of NANNNA, Dr. Ngozi Mbibi, and the OCDU, there was no financial assistance from any other source. As a matter of fact, the Ogbuebulle

Health Centre project was started and realized through nongovernmental efforts. We can only thank

God for giving us such a wonderful daughter in the person of Dr. Florence Ngozi Mbibi, who used her

rich connection to attract her professional association to come to the aid of our community. If we had

continued to rely on government, our people would have remained without a standard primary health

centre; and the consequence could only be better imagined.’’

And when eventually the permanent site was erected, the government continued its oversight of it –

with the staff migrating from the temporary location. The rest of the items and equipment used at the

Centre were provided by the community – that is besides the few aforementioned items from


It is instructive at this point to note that Dr. Ngozi Mbibi, apart from being instrumental to the

establishment of the centre, has continued to help in its operational maintenance. This she does by

bringing her team from NANNNA every January to conduct a daylong clinic under the NANNNA’s annual

medical mission – in keeping with the association’s strategic mandate of ensuring universal health

coverage for Nigerian communities – especially those in rural settings.

During the said clinic day, members of the community are examined and diagnosed by the doctors in

attendance, then the pharmacists among them dispense free of charge, the medications prescribed by

the doctors in attendance. Whatever medicines that are left from the day’s exercise are kept back in

custody of the Health Centre – in case of any medical eventuality in the course of the year.

However, patients buy their own drugs – that is if such prescriptions are not readily available among the

NANNNA’s leftover. This has been the modus at the Health Centre since its establishment 2018, from

the take-off to this permanent site.

Goodwill From Other NGOs:

Upon finishing and inaugurating the building in 2021, the facility was left open without perimeter fences.

It was on a second thought that the community decided to have it fenced in order to enact visual

appeal, privacy, and security on the facility as is required by the regulatory authorities – especially

because most of the staff of the Centre, and indeed greater percentage of the patients, are women who

visit there for maternal issues sometimes at the dead night and so needed to be protected from danger

while accessing its services.

It was upon the decision to have the Health Centre fenced that another Diaspora NGO, the Ikwuano

Sons & Daughters in Canada, volunteered to undertake the fencing, as its

own contribution to the project. The said perimeter fence donated by the Canada-based organization, was inaugurated onThursday, March 21, 2024 by the Mayor of Ikwuano Local Government Area, Hon. Osinachi Nwaka.

Again, it is instructive for the public to note that government’s participation in the establishment of the

Ogbuebulle Health Centre was only to the extent of inaugurating the perimeter fence – as financed by

the Ikwuano Sons & Daughters In Canada. The construction of the building itself and the equipment

thereof had been financed by NANNNA, Dr. Florence Ngozi Mbibi, with the cooperation of OCDU] long

before Mr. Osinachi Nwaka became the Mayor of the Ikwuano L.G.A.

While being conducted round the primary health facility, I ran into Evangelist [Mrs.] Vivian Omeruo, the

focal person for the Ikwuano Sons & Daughters in Canada on the perimeter fence project. When asked for her comment on the coming of the Ogbuebulle Health Centre, Mrs. Omeruo who was had made a stop at the Centre enroute the airport for a flight back to her base in Canada, enthused at her

organization’s pride in being part of the good history at Ogbuebulle; and thanked both NANNNA and Dr.

Ngozi Mbibi for their initiative in ensuring the establishment of the primary healthcare centre for the

people of the area.

Mrs. Omeruo however frowned at the growing practice by the country’s politicians of appropriating amenities provided through communal efforts as testimonials for their tenure in office!

It is gratifying that the Ogbuebulle Health Centre as a project has continued to enjoy lots of good will

from outside government since its advent in 2018. In fact, in the course of my visit, the leadership of the

community hinted of its plan to further upgrade the Centre by constructing a doctor-nurse quarters on

the empty space behind the clinic. ‘’We believe this would provide some comfort to the personnel

running the Centre so that instead of having to return to their various places of residence, they would

have a place here to retire to any time they happen to work late.

We believe this would enable them to be more dedicated to their work here. Even, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Mbibi is aware of this proposition and is in full agreement with it. When eventually we have the said quarters constructed, members of the community can easily run to the Centre even at the dead of night for medical attention – knowing that the place is open 24 hours with medics always present.’’, revealed Mike Okaranwaolu. ‘’Presently, the Ogbuebulle Health Centre boasts of a maternity ward, a men’s ward, a women ward, and another ward dedicated for immunization; and attends to an average of 26 persons a day.

The current traffic is expected to improve as soon as the planned staff quarters is eventually put in place.’’ Okaranwolu concludes.

The trio of Ejindu, Osuh and Okaranwolu also spoke of plan to even upgrade the Centre for better

service delivery – part of which is to establish a medical laboratory wherein patients would be tested to

properly determine their ailments toward enhancing treatments by the medics. Plus, the community is

also looking at the possibility of engaging a resident doctor – instead of one that comes in at intervals –

as is presently the case.

Need For Community Integration:

As upbeat as the people are over their achievement with the Health Centre, there is however one sore

point for them in the whole development. There was an easy hint of discontent among my respondents

over what they term as government’s unfairness over the people’s effort at providing alternate

governance – upon the failure of government. They decry in unison, decry the exclusion of the

community’s sons and daughters in the staffing of the health facility they strove to build. According to

them, not even one person from the community is on the personnel of the centre.

 ‘’We are actually not asking for much. At least, our people should be drafted into the junior cadre of the personnel – like gateman, cleaner, gardener, and messenger. But everyone that works here – from top to bottom, is from outside Ogbuebulle community. We hope government would carry us along in its employment scheme at the health centre. With that, we would feel a bit appreciated for all our efforts at establishing this clinic when government couldn’t. The reality is that we built this place from conception to construction and are religiously maintaining it. The authorities at the state and local council should extend to us some inclusion in return.’’, they chorused to my prodding.

Besides their complaints of being left out on employment, the good people of Ogbuebulle brim with

pride at their attracting a modern primary healthcare centre in their community – thereby helping their

people to attain better health and longer life span. They remain eternally grateful to their daughter,

Dr Ngozi Mbibi and her NANNNA – for pushing their long-held

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