The embattled Ondo State government led by Governor Olusegun Mimiko has instructed public hospitals in the State to immediately impose the use of the residency card known as “Kaadi Igbaayo” on all patients receiving treatment in their health facilities.
Governor Mimiko said the imposition of the card became imperative following medical reports from government hospitals that most of the beneficiaries of health services were not residents of Ondo State. Through a statement issued by a deputy, the governor said any patient, even pregnant women, without the residency card would be refused medical care at the public health facility.
He revealed that the present State government, which is controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would not back down from its enforcement of the residency card despite stringent criticisms after its introduction for the program being a money-making venture, which the government denies. Each resident must pay N2,000 for his or her personal copy.
Corroborating the governor’s statement, Ondo State Commissioner for Health Dayo Adeyanju affirmed that the enforcement of the card was in line with the order from the governor.
During a meeting with public health coordinators at the Mother and Child Hospital in Akure, Mr. Adeyanju explained that patients must be informed of the importance of obtaining the residency card.
He stated that the government was making the residency card mandatory for all patients, especially aliens, to control the influx of accessing public health hospitals. “This card has become operational in all government facilities and you must make [patients] to see its need for their medical service in our hospitals," he said. The commissioner added that the situation has caused influx into the government hospitals to access health services and stressed that such people must be made to pay for the services rendered.
However, several criticisms have continued to trail the State's enforcement of the residency card. Tunji Ariyomo, a pioneer coordinator of the State Information Technology Development Centre, said making the card a prerequisite to access public services is sheer wickedness on the part of the Mimiko-led government.
Mr. Ariyomo lampooned Governor Mimiko for the ‘No Card, No Access’ policy for government hospitals and described it as the height of recklessness and an uncaring attitude, saying, “Information technology is designed to make life more comfortable for the masses. It was never conceived as an instrument of terror as the government of Ondo State is now doing." He noted that every individual in the State should condemn such imposition on residents.
“Current technology in fact does not require you to own a card or carry one before critical data on a subject could be collated, preserved or accessed," Mr. Ariyomo continued. "This makes the need for the subject to own an expensive card superfluous, archaic and unnecessary."
According to him, there are numerous ways of making money for state governments. He concluded, "This fixation with punishing the masses as the only means of increasing revenue is unacceptable and condemnable."