BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
… We won’t stop protesting till our demands are met in full – Workers
The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital has explained how the immediate past top echelons of the institution illegally recruited workers and created crisis for the hospital.
A statement issued by the management and posted by the hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Kemi Fasoto on its website, said the senior officers of the hospital, who were suspended for the act even slept with some female workers in exchange for employment.
About 1500 sacked workers had picketed the hospital premises, shut the main gates and prevented activities at the hospital.
The protest has entered the second day as the workers, some of whom spent last night on the protest ground, threatened to demonstrate indefinitely until the management withdraw their sack and pay their arrears.
Meanwhile, the management has promised to pay the pre-employment medical screening expenses of the affected employees, stating that it would not re-engage the workers.
“The erstwhile Acting Chief Medical Director, erstwhile Acting Director of Administration and erstwhile Head of Establishment were all found to be culpable and complicit in the manipulation of the recruitment process through deliberate subversion of extant rules and regulations and non-adherence to administrative procedures in the conduct of Government business.
“The trio were subsequently suspended by the FMoH&SW over their involvement in illegal recruitment and job racketeering in the implementation of the 2022 approved waiver from the OHCSF.
“The act of deliberate wrongdoing was committed by the trio with flagrant disregard for extant rules and regulations guiding recruitment into public service and a lack of respect for constituted authority and norms.
Consequent upon their suspension, the Permanent Secretary, FMoH&SW directed the Management of the Hospital to convene a Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee to deal with and dispose of all cases of illegal recruitment and job racketeering involving the erstwhile Acting Chief Medical Director, Acting Director of Administration, and the Head of Establishment Department.
“The FMoH&SW and the OHCSF were duly represented on the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee that visited the Hospital Complex for the crucial assignments between Monday 8th & Friday 12th January 2024.
“While high-profile cases of illegal recruitment and job racketeering were dealt with and disposed of as appropriate, other sundry matters related to all issues under discourse were appropriately dealt with under the guidance of extant public service regulations by the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee with recommendations forwarded to the Coordinating Minister of Health & Social Welfare accordingly.
“The Management of the Hospital is still awaiting further directives.
“On Tuesday, 2nd January 2024, OAUTHC Management received a letter Ref: SMH.557/SII/124 dated 27th December 2023 on the report of the Fact-Finding Team from the FMoH&SW.
“The letter under reference contained specific recommendations which emanated from the report in which the Coordinating Minister of Health & Social Welfare directed the Management to enforce compliance to the waiver granted by cleaning the nominal roll as of 31st December 2021 and ensuring that persons who had been captured and employed under the 2022 waivers (pay-rolled, captured on IPPIS platform or not) should be made to undergo rigorous suitability competency test to determine their suitability in line with the OHCSF 2022 June waiver advise while cadres not captured under waiver should be exited from the services of the Hospital.
“The current Hospital Management is very altruistic and responsible and would continue to act in tandem with the directive and instruction of the supervising Ministry of Health & Social Welfare and also work collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure that the Hospital continues to deliver quality Healthcare services to the populace among the leagues of Federal Teaching Hospitals (FTHIs) across the country.
“We are poised to vigorously facilitate the attainment of set objectives and mission statement of the Hospital in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu with a profound sense of professionalism, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.
“The Public must realize that OAUTHC Management is in no position to pay, employ or sack erstwhile illegally recruited persons without authorization.
“It is sad that the illegality of the 2022 recruitments and job racketeering perpetrated by a few staff has severally tainted the public image of our highly industrious and patriotic staff, our vibrant Hospital, the Federal Ministry, and the Federal Government.
“It is however noteworthy that the illegality has been repeatedly brought to the sufficient notice of the public and the victims (many of whom willfully engaged in the criminality just to secure themselves jobs).
“Even after the suspension of officers involved and the sufficient notice granted by the FMOHSW, many have persistently insisted that they are legitimate staff, and this narrative is categorically false.
“Unfortunately, they are persisting and getting violent with threats already and continuously meted online to the person of the Coordinating Minister, the Ministry as well as physically to Officers and Staff of the OAUTHC. Indeed, they have circulated leaflets threatening death to Officers, Staff, and patients.
“The Management is not insensible to the protest and unrest occasioned by the mandate to implement the 2022 approved waiver in line with the recommendations and approval of the FMoH&SW.
“Nevertheless, we cannot offer non-existent job positions and we all must face reality.
“To demonstrate fairness to all victims, and the public, this Administration is willing to offer victims who may have inadvertently paid any amounts to procure screening tests after they were given letters of employment.
“The OAUTHC Management shall refund all such verifiable receipted claims of ‘pre-employment’ medical screening expenses.
All members of staff, visitors, patients, clients, and members of the public are advised to maintain decorum and civility as they transact their activities lawfully, within and around the Hospital.
“The Management is poised to maintain peace and security in the Hospital. The assistance of all people of influence and law-enforcement agents remains helpful in calming the inflamed situation and we seek all concerned to exercise restraint,” the statement read.
Reacting, the workers denied threatening to kill anyone, maintaining that they never indulged in job racketeering nor got the job in kind.
The spokesperson of the group of sacked workers, Samson Falope, said the strike would continue until their demands were met in full, saying they would not take the hospital’s offer of payong their pre-employment medical screening expenses.