A protest against the Acting Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Liasu Adeagbo Ahmed, is gathering strength, as medical unions and stakeholders in the hospital seek to thwart plans by the federal government to appoint him substantive director
There has been a protracted conflict between Mr. Ahmed and the unions over sundry unresolved issues such as non-payment of salaries and alleged diversion of funds meant for the payment of certain allowances meant for resident doctors.
Some months ago, the Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, in the hospital dragged the medical director to the National Industrial Court over his refusal to pay two months salary withheld following the strike action embarked upon by the doctors.
Even though the court had ruled that the management should pay the doctors, the MD delayed in compliance resulting to a contempt action against him which nearly landed him in prison.
While dust appeared to be settling over the upheavals generated by the industrial disputes between Mr. Ahmed and the doctors’ union, a renewed conflict is underway as Mr. Ahmed seeks to become the substantive medical director, having served in acting capacity since 2015.
The Federal Ministry of Health has concluded interviews for the position among three contestants with Mr. Ahmed the leading candidate.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the unions fear he might emerge as the government’s preferred candidate.
The unions, it was learnt, have pulled their forces together under the Joint Action Committee(JAC) to resist the move to return Mr. Ahmed as the Medical Director.
The JAC is a conglomerate of unions in the FMC Owo comprising the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria(MDCAN); Association of Resident Doctors(ARD); Senior Staff Association(SSAUTHRIAI); Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP); Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria(MHWUN); Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria(AHAPN); and National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives(NANNM).
In their position statement, signed by all the leaders of the respective unions, and submitted to the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Ondo State Government, the Olowo of Owo, and the Ministry of Health, the JAC argued that Mr. Ahmed remained a part of past administrations that had brought the medical centre to its current state.
“The current Acting MD, Liasu Adeagbo Ahmed, had been part of the successive failed administrations that brought the health institution to its current state of predicament,” the statement said.
“It will be recalled that Dr. L.A. Ahmed was the Head of the Clinical Services(HCS) to the erstwhile Medical Director, A.O.Omotoso, also the HCS to A.O.J. Kolajo, the interim administrator who was recalled for his highhandedness. He later became the Acting Medical Director from 18th December 2015 till date.
“He has succeeded in turning one of the foremost Federal Health Institution to a shadow of itself. The deplorable state of facilities in the institution has driven patients away under his watch.”
The unions also accused him of mismanaging the hospital so that there are dearth of essential drugs at the hospitals pharmacy stores and that the hospital was now indebted to suppliers to the tune of N120million.
“There has been consistent lack of essential drugs and consumables in the hospital pharmacy stores despite the fact that no patient gets drugs from the hospital without payments,” they alleged.
JAC also noted that the institution’s laboratories had gone moribund due to lack of reagents and other essential investigative materials for the same reasons of suppliers’ refusal to supply because they were owed several millions.
They said there was shortage of health care providers in the core clinical areas which had caused inadequacy in the health care delivery to patients.
“Having been in acting capacity as Medical Director for a period of 22 months, and Head of Clinical Services for four years, we have seen his best was not good enough to move the hospital forward,” the unions submitted.
“FMC Owo, with its peculiarities that are not common among other health institutions, we, JAC, appeal for a substantive Medical Director that can solve our problems, preferably among the contestants who is currently in the employment of FMC Owo, other than Dr. Liasu Adeagbo Ahmed.
“Any attempt to impose the Acting Medical Director, Dr. L.A. Ahmed will further trigger the highly volatile centre and stagnation in area of development and service delivery towards provision of quality, effective and affordable health care services.
Responding to the allegations, Mr. Ahmed told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone that the allegations and position of the unions were completely different from what is actually on ground.
He said he would prefer the reporter to visit the laboratories and the pharmacy stores of the hospital to ascertain if the allegations were true or not.
“If I just tell you that all is well and there is nothing wrong with what we are doing here, it will just be me talking to you,” he said. “But you need to come and see for yourself and you will know whether they are telling the truth or not.”
Mr. Ahmed noted that the institution had already responded appropriately to the allegations and would rather not speak much on it.