Illegality and disregard for due process in employments
Job racketeering in UNTH is a fact that cannot be swept under the carpet. The fact that people pay to get jobs in UNTH is an open secret that cannot be overemphasized.
It is only in UNTH that employment letters are most times backdated and people are made to also backdate their acceptance letters and dates of resumption, a dirty way of siphoning funds from federal government coffers. Some of these staff at the point of employment even received pay slips of the money they never received, and these were for months they did not work but were covered by the backdated appointment letters they so received. The employments have even become so petty that appointment letters are now issued in hotel rooms. This is better imagined.
In UNTH, people even start work without due process of filing and mandatory medical examination and arbitrary grade levels are assigned to them without due consideration and reference to the extant laws as enshrined in the public service handbook. Many staff in UNTH as we speak are even yet to do the mandatory pre-employment medical examination. Others did so after having worked for many months. These people, of course, were not reprimanded by the Dr C. C. Amah led hospital management, lending credence to the fact that they may have paid heavily for the jobs and are as such untouchables lest they expose their route of entry.
3) Over bloated Service charges and Corrupt financial practices in UNTH
Patients are made to pay through their noses to assess the substandard healthcare services offered in UNTH. They pay such exorbitant fees for little or nothing offered them in return.
For example, every patient entering the ward or theatre is forced to pay an enormous amount of N7, 500 for oxygen whether they need it or not. Fees are fixed with so much impunity and without regard to the poor helpless Nigerian masses that depend on UNTH for their healthcare needs.
The Hospital theatre is run by a cartel that collects monies for disposables and lab tests without issuing hospital receipts for them. Even after collecting these monies from patients, surgeries end up being cancelled because of unavailability of the same disposables patients had paid exorbitantly for. When surgeries are re-booked, patients go through the same process of paying fresh bills for them.
Details of the fraud on-going in the open heart surgery charade in UNTH will be a story for another day.
4) Unlawful withholding and misappropriation of Staff Salaries
In a display of gallantry in the field of corruption, the management of UNTH led by Dr C. C. Amah has mastered the act of diverting salaries of staff of UNTH. There is an age long practice in UNTH where by newly employed residents and houseofficers will be denied their call duty allowance for their first month in the hospital. When the going was good in UNTH, once the staff finishes his/her program and exists the system, the staff is paid this withheld money immediately with the last salary or at most by the successive month.
Now, this money once deducted will automatically become the property of the UNTH management to misappropriate. To cover their ills, they will subject people who have left the system with all forms of letter, begging from one office to the other for their legitimate salaries.
As we write over 100 house officers that finished their one year housemanship are still being told stories and denied their legitimate salaries up to 8months now. Many of the resident doctors who have exited the system are also begging for their unpaid salaries years after they left the system.
This is just a tip of the iceberg of the magnitude of misappropriation of funds ongoing in UNTH. Fraudulent award of contracts to close relatives of the CMD and his cronies as a safe haven for diverting funds from UNTH will be exposed in time.
5) RENUMERATION OF DOCTORS
A) Proper placement of Doctors
The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF), in Circulars referenced HCSF/EPO/EIR/63755/11/192, dated 4th November 2013 and reference No: HCSF/EPO/EIR/63755/T1/195, 19th of December, 2013, and the Director of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) through a letter with reference no: C.3884/Vol. 1 dated 19th of December, 2013, explicitly and clearly approved the skipping of salary grade level for Medical and Dental Officers in Federal Civil Service. It was clearly directed that the equivalent of CONHESS 10 should be skipped for the CONMESS structure following a National Industrial Court judgment which directed that CONHESS 10 and its equivalents should be skipped for federal health workers.
Since this Judgment and subsequent directives were given, most Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) and Medical Directors (MDs) of federal tertiary health institutions commenced immediate implementation for other health workers since 2013 but not for medical doctors. The NMA and NARD made various attempts to correct this anomaly, when in 2014, the CMDs and MDS were yet to start the implementation. This was one of the cardinal reasons NMA embarked on a 2months nationwide strike in July and August 2014. The strike was called off based on the promise by the Federal Government that the financial implication of skipping of CONMESS will be captured in the 2015 personnel cost budget as the main reason then was that CMDs/MDs did not capture it in the budgets of their respective MDAs.
In UNTH, we were initially informed by several high ranking members of UNTH Management team including the Chief Medical Director Dr C. C. Amah, the Deputy Director of Finance Mr C. C. Onuchukwu and the officer in charge of budget in the accounts department of UNTH, that Doctors in UNTH were properly placed/captured in the 2015 personnel cost budget.
At first, UNTH Management, after initially feigning ignorance of properly capturing doctors in the 2015 personnel cost budget, claimed that the reason why they can’t implement the budget which has been approved is because of the global short fall in release of funds to MDAs, this was debunked by the fact that personnel cost budget can only be tampered with if it will be replaced by the supplementary budget, otherwise you leave civil servants without salaries. More so, having captured Doctors correctly, we expressed concern why only Doctors should bear the brunt of a shortfall, if FG cannot sustain the salaries of civil servants, you either pay everyone a percentage of their salaries or pay full salaries up till where the funds released can cover.
When our superior argument on the excuse of shortfall prevailed, the UNTH management craftily moved to non-availability of template for implementation of skipping for Doctors as their handicap for paying skipping. Again we referred them to the Federal Government Circulars which made exclusive and clear reference to the equivalence of CONHESS 10 as the level to be skipped for CONMESS. It took the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health another circular released on 29th July, 2015 with reference C.2262/T/111 to explain simply English Language to our hospital management, clearly stating that CONMESS 2 is the equivalent of CONHESS 10 and expressly directing them to commence payment and guide their future budget articulation.
With this again put to rest, our CMD has now come up with another gimmick, that the Chairman, National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) gave a verbal directive against skipping as such he will not pay us our proper emoluments lest he be prosecuted; we want to draw the attention of Mr. President on the following points as regards this fraudulent claim:
i) The circular for skipping of Doctors emanated from the highest level of civil service hierarchy, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HSCF) and it followed an industrial court judgment. We believe NSIWC should be under the HCSF and as such will not issue directives contrary to the directives HCSF. More so, since the circular from the HCSF followed a NIC judgment, making such statements as Dr C.C.Amah claimed is making an attempt to challenge the Court. This simply explains why The Chairman NSIWC could not have said that talk more of committing it in writing least he will be held in contempt of Court.
ii) As at now, more than 24 Federal Tertiary Health institutions in Nigeria are paying doctors their appropriate salaries based the court ruling and appropriate FG circulars. To limit the examples to the south east region of Nigeria where UNTH is situated, all federal tertiary hospitals have started implementing the FG directive either in full or in part. While the managements of National Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu and Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki have continued to comply fully with directives of Federal Government as per the proper placement of Doctors, those of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital and Federal Medical Centre Owerri have done so in part. This is another clear show of shame on the part of Dr C. C. Amah.
We as Resident Doctors of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla, Enugu have after following due process for dialogue, spent over 45 days after our first notice of strike making every attempt to prevent service disruption in the hospital, was forced to embark on an indefinite strike following the Hospital Management’s inconsistent position on proper placement of Doctors, reneging on their several promises to pay our due entitlements as covered by relevant laws of the land.
B) 2014 Teaching allowance arrears
Early last year, the Federal Government issued a directive stopping teaching allowance for house officers and junior residents, this was firmly opposed with valid reasons from the NMA and NARD leading to the Federal Government immediately reversing her directive. The federal government thereafter gave a clear directive that resident doctors should be paid teaching allowance.
Almost every institution in Nigeria followed this directive and started paying their doctors teaching allowance as directed by the federal government. Our CMD, Dr C. C. Amah remained adamant and refused to pay doctors the teaching allowance as directed. Following repeatedly failed negotiations, ARD UNTH embarked on strike in March last year to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with their rights being trampled upon by the tyrant CMD, Dr C. C. Amah. It took the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians and the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) UNTH Chapter, to convince us to resume duties, since this was a legal issue concerning our emoluments, that they will prevail on the CMD to pay us our due allowances, for us to suspend the two weeks old strike.
Despite these interventions, the CMD as we write, did not pay the teaching allowance throughout last year, and has also not paid the arrears till date. Little wonder, those who prevailed on us during the last industrial action over 18months, had no moral justification to approach us this time.
The CMD claimed the hospital had no resources to pay teaching allowance in 2014, yet after paying normal December 2014 salaries, the hospital had over four hundred million naira (N400, 000, 000.00) left in her personnel cost envelope in the GIFMIS account which was taken back into the federal government coffers, meanwhile the whole teaching allowance owed all deserving members in UNTH would have cost just about twenty four million naira (N24, 000, 000.00).
As we write you Sir, UNTH is the ONLY federal health institution in Nigeria where residents were not paid Teaching allowance in 2014 and are still being owed the arrears.
C) Advancement of Residents/Promotion Arrears
The unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks experienced by resident doctors in their advancement and that experienced by other healthworkers in their promotion have become enormous and unbearable. A situation where a registrar will pass the prescribed exams and apply for advancement and it takes the hospital management over 9months to process same has called for a public outcry.
To make matters worse sir, when the advancement/promotion are processed and dated back to the effective date the doctor became qualified for the promotion, the accounts department will still refuse to pay the accrued arrears.
In a recent and daring show of shame, the CMD and his cohorts, after misappropriating personnel cost funds of UNTH, ventured into unlawful demotion of some recently promoted members of staff in UNTH including Residents. Though they claim this was as a result of high wage bill as against available funds, they have refused to make available the nominal roll used to disburse personnel funds to ascertain the true financial state of the hospital as claimed.
Their continued refusal to expose this document to ascertain the claim further gives credence to the massive corrupt practices ongoing in UNTH. Full details on this will follow this press release.
D) Two months relativity arrears
Last year, there was an adjustment in the CONMESS salary structure to reflect relativity, which was supposed to be effective from January 2014. The Federal Government in the last quarter of 2014, released two months arrears for such payments, but UNTH management only paid some doctors and left a good number of deserving doctors either under paid or not paid at all. These people were properly and duly captured in the budget submitted for the arrears and funds released in full, but in their usual act of impunity, they only paid some people and left the funds for the remaining people yet unaccounted for.
Note: This is a press release by the striking Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), UNTH branch
To be continued