Politics

BREAKING: How staff list of FMC, Onitsha was padded with 406 persons – Minister

The federal government has uncovered the illegal addition of 406 persons to the staff list of the Onitsha General Hospital in Anambra State.

The Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa, stated this on Tuesday while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Character probing the alleged padding of the staff list of the hospital.

He said the discovery was made after the federal government took over the hospital.

The minister said the management of the hospital embarked on illegal padding of the staff list shortly after the conversion of the hospital to an FMC.

Background

The Onitsha General Hospital, initially owned by the Anambra State Government, was converted to a Federal Medical Center in 2022 after former President Muhammadu Buhari signed a bill passed by the National Assembly.

In April 2023, the federal government and Anambra State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the transfer of the assets of the hospital to the federal government.

Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State had initially handed over the Onitsha General Hospital, Eye Center, Nise and Trauma and Orthopedic Centre. However, only Onitsha General Hospital was on the National Assembly Gazette for takeover.

A group had written a petition to the House of Representatives, alleging illegal recruitment and padding of staff strength of the hospital.
The hearing…

Speaking on the nominal payroll of the hospital, Mr Alausa said the Anambra State Government handed over 977 staff to the federal government in April 2023. He added that the staff comprised the staff of Onitsha General Hospital, Eye Center, Nise and Trauma and Orthopedic Centre.

The minister said the Eye Center, Nise and Trauma and Orthopedic Centre were subsequently removed from the assets to be handed over to the federal government in line with the gazette of the National Assembly. He stated that the staff list was reduced to 647 staff after the review.

Mr Alausa informed the lawmakers that out of the 647 staff handed over to the federal government, a verification team discovered that only 241 were employed in 2022, 348 had employment letters issued in 2023, and 58 failed to appear for verification.

He later described the actions of the management of the hospital as “disturbing and outright shenanigan.”

Mr Alausa maintained that only 241 people recruited before the end of 2022 are eligible to transit to IPPIS.

“The record of 647 staff was presented to the verification team out of the 589 staff that were duly verified – 361 clinical and 228 non-clinical. About 58 of them were absent during the verification exercise. Of the 589 staff, 241 had a date on or before the year 2022 and 348 had their appointment in 2023.

“There was no back door of recruitment as alleged since all staff had letters of appointment from Anambra State and one from the federal government,” he said.

The minister disclosed that the Anambra State Government is still paying the salaries of the workers in the hospital pending the staff audit. He said only the 241 verified staff are going to be transferred to the IPPIS.

“Several letters were issued; they were issued illegally. Those people with letters issued in April are not part of the verified people. Every single one on the list had their letters of employment verified.

“The MOU mandated Anambra State to pay salary till the 31st of December. Right now, the Anambra State Government has continued to pay salaries. If they stop paying salaries today, there would be problems.

“There were things that were done by the hospitals that were not right. The list was padded. A lot of shenanigans at the hospital level.”

Responding to the comments made by the minister, a member of the Committee, Idu Emeka, who represents Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency, said the hospital has been recruiting personnel even after the signing of the MOU.

Mr Emeka even presented an employment letter issued by the hospital after the signing of the MOU.

Reacting to the issue raised, Mr Alausa said the ministry is aware of the letters, adding that only the 241 staff verified by the government are confirmed.

The Chairperson of the committee, Ahmed Idris (APC, Plateau), ruled that the ministry should provide the nominal roll of the hospital, the salary schedule issued by the bank, and details of all the staff.

Mr Idris directed the Medical Director of the hospital, Mercy Anugwu, to provide all the documents by Tuesday next week and appear before the committee again on Wednesday.