After recruiting, making them work for months without pay, OAUTH sacks 1,500 workers

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  • Affected workers kick, demand compensation

The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital has laid off no fewer than 1,500 workers it employed in 2022 following discovery by the Federal Government that the management and some workers were involved in job racketeering.

Recall that the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, while reacting to the lingering crisis at the hospital over the alleged job racketeering which has led to the nonpayment of some workers for almost a year, confirmed the indictment of some officials of the hospital including a former Acting Chief Medical Director, Afolabi Owojuyigbe, of engaging in job racketeering.

In a statement signed by its Director of Press, Patricia Deworitshe, the ministry said an investigative panel led by Aderemi Azeez found that Owojuyigbe carried out over-employment in the hospital, without provision in the personnel budget.

According to the statement, the panel disclosed that Owojuyigbe, a Consultant Anaesthetist, employed over 1,973 staff as against the waiver for 450 vacancies granted to the hospital by the Federal Government in the 2022 employment process.

Owojuyigbe and “his accomplices” are therefore culpable of job racketeering, according to the panel.

Pate alleged that many of the job seekers and their sponsors influence peddlers and made illegal transactions to secure the illegal positions.

He clarified that “the issue is primarily an OAUTH mismanagement of employment issues with collusion between a few civil actors in the institution, some corrupt individuals, and many desperate job seekers.”

He said OAUTH was reportedly approved to recruit 450 health workers but “unfortunately, almost 2000 additional employment /job offers were granted above the number.”

Meanwhile, in a statement addressed to all heads of department and members of staff in the hospital, the management of OAUTH, through its Acting Director of Administration, O. O. Omonije, asked about 1,500 workers to cease from parading themselves as staff of the hospital after identifying some employees as those that would remain in service.

The memo dated January 31, 2024 and entitled: “Re: Implementation of The Year 2022 Approved Waiver,” a copy of which was made available to The Point, 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.

“Going forward, the Coordinating Minister, Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Abuja, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate has announced both on his personal and via the Federal Ministry of Health’s Twitter Handle and made following underlisted statements:

“That the employment racket took place between early 2022 and early 2023, at least six (6) months before this administration came to the scene.

“That the issue is primarily an OAUTHC mismanagement of employment issue with collusion between a few civil actors in the institution, some corrupt Individuals, and many willing desperate job seekers, whose actions created a mess affecting at least 450 otherwise well meaning innocent health workers.

“That reportedly an Approval was granted to OAUTHC to recruit 450 health workers (various cadres but mostly clinical pharmacists, nurses, laboratory scientists, etc). doctors,

“That unfortunately, almost 2,000 additional employments/job offers were granted above the approved number. Many job seekers and their sponsors, influence peddlers, and allegedly, illegal transactions were made to secure many of the illegal positions.

“That now, the quandary is how to ease out the truly legally employed versus the illegal ones. Where many of the illegal are not even clinical workers and their influence peddlers and allegedly, illegal transactions were made to secure many of the illegal positions. And there is no money in the hospital to pay for them.

“That we are soon coming with some of the difficult decisions we have to make. While avoiding embarrassment for the innocent as much as possible. For those who racketeered (paid for or received payments for jobs), please quietly consider moving on while we find ways to resolve for the more innocent caught in the mess.

“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.”

Reacting, some of the affected workers kicked against the decision of the management to sack them without compensation.

They said they have been coming to work for about a year without pay and that the content and agreement stated in their letters of employment which mandates the employer to give the employee a month notice before termination of the employment, should be followed.

“Someone like me followed due process during the recruitment process and I didn’t give anybody money or influence the employment. I spent N30,000 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,” one of the sacked workers stated.

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.”