BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex has said that it was waiting for directive from the Minister of Health and Social Welfare on the industrial crisis rocking the institution.
About 1,500 workers laid off by the management of the hospital on Thursday protested their disengagement.
The management of the Federal Government owned hospital had employed the workers in 2022 but following discovery by the Federal Government that the management and some workers were allegedly involved in job racketeering, the workers were fired through a circular issued on Wednesday.
Angered by the development, the affected workers besieged the hospital gates yesterday, chanting songs to drive home their dissatisfaction, asking the management to rescind their decision.
Immediately the protesters arrived the main gates, they shut them and prevented entry and exit.
The demonstration affected patients and frustrated clinical activities in and around the complex.
News Boom Nigeria had reported that a circular addressed to all heads of department and members of staff in the hospital and signed by the Acting Director of Administration, O. O. Omonije, revealed that some workers were picked while others were asked others to cease from parading themselves as staff of the hospital.
The memo dated January 31, 2024 and entitled: “Re: Implementation of The Year 2022 Approved Waiver,” a copy of which was made available to News Boom Nigeria said, “You would recall that between 11th and 15th September, 2023 the Fact-Finding Panel from the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Abuja came to our Institution for official investigations on over-employment and job racketeering.
“During the course of their investigations, it was discovered that some people were recruited outside the waiver among several other irregularities.
“The Panel also noted that this action was not legitimate and contrary to the Public Service Rules Section 100401 in the Civil Service of the Federation, therefore, the Panel frowned at it and condemned the act in totality.
“In view of the above and in line with the recommendations from the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Abuja, the institution was mandated to clean up the nominal roll and determine the actual number of staff.”
“Therefore, in order to comply with the June 2022 waiver as directed, only the categories of staff cited in the June, 2022 approved waiver from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as listed below would be considered for rigorous suitability test for employment with these cadres:
“Hospital Consultant, Registrar, Medical Officer, Pharmacist, Nursing Officer, Radiographer, Medical Laboratory Scientist, Physiotherapist, Dietician, Dental Technologist, Medical Laboratory Technologist/Technician, Assistant Technical Officer (Electrical and Biomedical), Health Attendant, Administrative Officer, Accountant, Health Records Officer, Health Records Technologist/Technician, Assistant Catering Officer, Programme/System Analyst, Motor Driver/Mechanic, Assistant Craftsman, Head, Radiology Department, Head, Internal Medicine, Head, Haematology, Head, Chemical Pathology, Head, Micro & Parasitology, Head, Morbid Anatomy, Head, Family Medicine, Head, Anaesthesia, Head, Ortho. & Trauma, Head, Physiotherapy, Head, Occupational Therapy.
“Head, Accident & Emergency, Head, General Surgery, Head, Surgery (ENT), Head, Surgery, (Ophthalmology), Head, Paediatrics, Head, Mental Health, Head, Dermatology/Venerology, Head, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Head, Restorative Dentistry, Head, Child Dental Health, Head, Preventive & Comm. Dentistry, Head, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Head, EE.G/E.C.G. Unit, Head, I.C.T., Unit Administrator (IHU), Unit Administrator (WGH, Ilesa), Unit Administrator UCHC, Eleyele), Unit Administrator (Dental Hospital), Chairman, Virology Research Clinic (IHVN), Head, Legal Unit, Deputy Director, Chemical Pathology, Deputy Director, Haematology, Deputy Director, Micro, & Parasitology, Assistant Director, Histopathology, Head, Security, Head, Pension and Retirement, Head, NHIA.
“Consequently, any person or group not cited on the above list are advised to cease from conducting or parading themselves as staff of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, lle-Ife henceforth.
This information is for compliance by all,” the memo read.
But, the affected workers from Ibadan, Ilesa, Osogbo, Ile-Ife and their environments gathered on Thursday and asked the management to rescind the decision, pay their salary arrears and withdraw allegation that they were involved in job racketeering.
They displayed placards with different inscriptions such as “Say no to injustice”, “Okeniyi must go”, “Okeniyi pay our 14-month salary”, Our demand is clear: Pay our 14- month salary”, “You are such a wicked man” among others.
Speaking at the protest, one of the affected staff, Samson Falope said most of them were employed since 2022 and their names were on the hospital’s duty roaster, adding that they have been working day and night, fully engaged without pay since 2022.
He said, “We tried to ensure that our salaries were paid but the management turned a deaf ear to it. The Ministry of Health Officials came to the institution for capturing, hoping that we would be paid but nothing of such happened.”
“We have not seen any circular emanating from the Federal Ministry of Health that indicated our sacking. Our salary is overdue and we have worked for about 14 to 15 months without payment. Our people are suffering, the management should pay us our salary. We will not leave here (protest ground) if our salary is not paid.
Another affected worker, Imoleayo Olasunboye said, “We are making three demands before we will stop our protest. The first one is that the memo they sent informing the public of our sack should be withdrawn because we were not employed through memo. We were duly issued with employment letters and conditions were stated therein.
“The second condition is that the management should pay our salaries. I am being owned 14 months, others are being owed 12 months while others are owed 16 and 15 months salaries; they vary like that.
“They should withdraw the allegation that we involved ourselves in job racketeering. This is not true. They advertised job vacancies and we applied; we passed through rigorous employment processes and after, they employed us. So, if they know those from them who racketeered, they should point them out and prosecute them but to lay us off just like that under the guise of job racketeering, we won’t take it.”
In his submission, another victim, Samson Ogunleye, who was employed as Higher Executive Officer, urged the federal government and the hospital management to pay them their salaries.
According to him, they paid for medical fee of about N50,000 to the hospital management and had resigned from their former works, saying, “what fo they expect us to do now? We have nowhere to go and we have families to feed.”
For Ife Adaralegbe, one of the sacked workers, “There was nothing like job racketeering. Someone like me followed due process during the recruitment process and I didn’t give anybody money nor influence the employment. I spent N50,000 for the medical they asked us to do and N5,000 for stamping at the hospital. I have been paying my transport fare to work since then and I have not been paid a dime. They cannot just sack us like that because we are not the ones that employed ourselves.”
Another worker said, “They cannot just lay us off like that. The vacancy was advertised and we applied. If the government is to punish anyone, it should be members of the management that recruited more than the required number and not us. At least, there should be commensurate compensation for us.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Kemi Fasoto, said that the management was waiting for directive from the Minister of Health and Social Welfare on the issue.