For the first time since he was born in February 2018, Baby Ighodalo Oaikhena joined his family at their home in the Ikeja area of Lagos on Wednesday.
This was after the wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, paid his medical bill at the hospital where he was detained for three months.
Punch had reported that Ighodalo was born premature at the Ifako General Hospital together with his twin sister.
The twins were taken to a private hospital, Inton Hospital, Ogba, Ikeja, where they were placed in incubators.
While the baby girl died in the first week, Ighodalo made it alive from the incubator and was put in a nursery.
The baby’s father, Michael Oaikhena, a driver; and the mother, Roseline, a teacher, had disclosed that they could not raise the N1.2m bill they incurred in the course of the treatment.
Michael had said despite the family paying N550,000 out of the bill, the hospital had insisted on collecting the N650,000 balance before releasing the baby.
He further alleged that the hospital threatened to take the child to an orphanage if the balance was not paid on time.
Although the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Mr Akeem Mustapha, denied the orphanage allegation, he insisted on the payment of the bill.
On Wednesday, Punch learnt that a team of aides, acting on the instruction of Mrs. Ambode, visited the hospital and cleared the bill.
It was gathered that it was an emotional moment as the mother of the child, Roseline, broke down in tears of joy.
“She did not believe that she would be taking the baby home as she kept asking, ‘Am I really going home with my baby today?’ The aides to the governor’s wife were moved as well, as some of them fought back tears,” a source, who was at the hospital, said.
Michael confirmed the development in a telephone conversation with Punch, adding that he was at work when he was called that his baby had been released.
He said, “As I speak to you, we are going home with the baby. I was really happy when I got a call from an aide to the governor’s wife that my baby would be going home today (Wednesday). I went there and met them with my wife and by then, the money had been paid. I am now in a car with my baby. I am really happy and I appreciate the governor’s wife for this. I wish I could see her and hug her for the gesture.”
The Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Office of the Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Folashade Kadiri, in a statement on Wednesday, confirmed the payment.
She said, “Mrs Ambode’s attention was drawn to a publication in the Punch Newspaper of Wednesday, May 30, 2018, suggesting the detention of a baby for the past three months due to the inability of his parents to pay the medical bill.
“The governor’s wife had immediately directed the payment of the bill to enable the baby to reunite with his parents.
“The payment of N650,000 was made by the Asst. Director, Public Affairs, Office of the wife of the Governor, Mrs Folashade Kadiri, who also effected the baby’s release.
“The elated mother, Mrs Roseline Oaikhena, who was in tears, could not believe that she would be returning home so easily with her baby after the child’s three months compulsory stay in hospital after delivery.”