Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, former Presidents Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar have advocated concerted action against the spread of cancer in the country.
The nation’s leaders spoke on Thursday at the official launch of the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation and ground breaking ceremony of the Goldcoast Dickson Cancer Centre at Toru Orua, Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa state.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei said, they all commended Governor Seriake Dickson for taking the initiative to fight cancer through emphasis on early detection and treatment and pledged to support the foundation.
Represented by Minister designate, Dr. Chris Ngige, President Buhari described the establishment of the centre as a step in the right direction designed to prevent avoidable deaths and promised to support it.
In his personal capacity, Dr. Ngige, saluted the efforts of the Governor in his resolve to fight the dreaded disease as a non-medical personnel.
He said the centre could be the nucleus of a major health institution to save millions of lives and urged Governor Dickson not to be deterred from his vision.
His words:”The President congratulates you on the step you have taken to set up the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation to operate the Goldcoast Dickson Cancer Centre, and he describes it as a step in the right direction.
“The President also says the Federal Government is doing a lot in the effort to prevent cancer, and wishes to inform you that the Federal Government will readily collaborate with centres like yours.
“On a personal note, as a medical doctor, I want to thank you because it gives me joy when I see a non-medical person doing what you are doing now. This centre could be the nucleus of what Nigeria will use save many lives.”
The Chairman of the occasion, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (Retd), described the effort as a wonderful philanthropic gesture that is worthy of support and appealed to all to donate generously to the cause.
He stressed that Nigeria was in an urgent need for a well coordinated action against the disease that is ravaging communities in the country.
Also former President of the country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, praised Governor Dickson for honouring his mother with the setting up of the cancer centre, which he noted would go a long way in checking the killer disease.
Obasanjo stated that only those who had come into close contacts with victims of cancer and the traumatic experience would know the magnitude of the pain, anguish and misery being inflicted on the society.
Chief Obasanjo said he was pleased with the other issues the Foundation seeks to address such as record keeping and preservation of the environment.
“When you see what cancer does, particularly the excruciating pain the sufferer goes through, you would want to do everything and anything to comfort those who are victims and that is exactly what you are doing.
“Cancer can be managed when if it is diagnosed early. The second thing you say your foundation will be doing is what i call, institutional memory, one of the things we are very bad in our country. Keep and maintain records and let tge accessible for those who want to do research or do information.
“One of the most depressing sites is the national archives. When you go there, you would almost weep and we have to do something about that.”
On his part, former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who pledged the support of his foundation, agreed that cancer had become a big problem in society, stressing the need for collaborative efforts in curbing the disease.
He recalled painfully how the dreaded disease killed his Special Adviser on Strategy and Documentation, and renowned environmentalist, Barr. Oronto Douglas.
He said that in spite of the availability of resources and the desire to fight the disease, he painfully watched his aide die because the disease was diagnosed at an advanced stage.
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus pointed out that when the centre is completed it would help in reducing capital flight on medical tourism.
According to Prince Secondus, leaders across the country should emulate Governor Dickson by investing in critical areas in the health sector.
“I want to join Governor Dickson in calling other leaders to take this good example and take the various areas in our health sector so that we may reduce the number of deaths.
In his remarks, Governor Seriake Dickson expressed gratitude to President Buhari and other leaders for joining him in honouring the first anniversary of the passage of his mother.
While sharing fond memories of his mother, the governor said the foundation would among other things, carry out research work aimed at early diagnosis and treatment.
Governor Dickson who noted that the foundation is part of his efforts to continually contribute to the wellbeing of humanity, urged all to donate time, skills and funds to ensure the success of the project.
“It’s an humble effort on my part to set up this cancer foundation because i thought i should have a vehicle through which i could do some public good for humanity.
“I therefore humbly call on public spirited individuals and those who have resources to support this worthy cause to stop cancer from ravaging our population.”
Dignitaries who graced the event include the Governor of Delta state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa his Kebbi counterpart, Atiku Bagudu, Ebonyi state Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, Minoritu Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu.
Others are, the Country Chair of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Engr. Osagie Okunbor, Managing Director of FCMB, Mr Ladi Balogun, former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Kawu Baraje, former PDP Governorship candidate of Lagos state, Jimi Agbaje among others.
Highlight of tge occasion was the ground-breaking of the Goldcoast Dickson Cancer Centre by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and commissioning of the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation Office and Library by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.