By Uzoh Ugwueze – Enugu
Orient Weekend reports that Onwukwe’s 8-year tenure in the Hospital, which was characterized by labour unrest, victimization of staff, and poor working conditions, came to a shameful end with his suspension by the board of the hospital.
It was, however, gathered that in his usual self, he staged a come-back to the Hospital, in apparent disregard to the suspension placed on him by the Board, and which was duly communicated to the Minister of health. He was said to be in a last minute attempt to install his cronny as successor, as his tenure was to end next month February.
Our correspondent reports that Onwukwe was suspended on 10th January, 2019 by the Hospital Board over a wide range of issues.
A letter to that effect, which was addressed to the Minister of Health, was obtained by our correspondent. The letter, which chronicled some of Onwukwe’s poor management activities, was signed by the Board chairman, Hon. Shaban Ohimoni Shuaibu.
He recalled in the letter that “Onwukwe was arrested during the inauguration of the board of the federal health institutions in March, 2018 and after I stood surety to have him released, he jumped bail.
“You will also recall that the Board frequently had to resolve industrial and serious interpersonal differences, first a local strike at the beginning of our tenure, and most recently rowdy protest by workers during the last board meeting because of his refusal to comply with my advice to pay and offset staff claims emanating from promotion arrears, interdiction and other shortfalls in their emoluments.
“Dr. Onwukwe has refused to implement board decisions, instead he gives counter directives to the staff and withholds correspondences, ignores phone calls and text messages of the chairman and members of the Board, even going as far as summoning Board members, including the chairman, to meetings on his own assumed authority.
“Matters came to a head when he tried to usurp or scuttle the process of selection of a new medical director refusing to call Board meeting to ratify the report of the appointment promotion and disciplinary committees on the process and instead invited the ministry, summoned the Board and invited shortlisted candidates for an interview and deliberately refused to invite the Federal character commission that has a constitutional mandate to monitor the process of recruitment exercise of this magnitude.
“Confronted with his misdeeds, he walked out on the board, leaving behind severely disgruntled workers. Consequently, the Board has resolved to suspend him indefinitely to create room for the selection of a new medical director.”
Onwukwe had earlier in the week commenced moves to return to the Hospital two weeks after his suspension. He sent advanced team of policemen, an action that provoked the Hospital workers.
They quickly mobilized to the gate where they all laid in wait for the medical director, vowing not to let him in. He was not seen throughout the day.
However, the following day, he eventually stormed the Hospital and ended into the waiting hands of the workers, who made real their threat and bundled him out of the Hospital. He was chased away, alongside four other key officials of the hospital.
Orient Weekend reports that the presence of security officials did not deter the workers, who said they were ready to take their destiny in their own hands. Onwukwe who had made attempts to enter his office was chased away, amidst booing by angry members of staff.
Speaking on the developments, Mr. Friday Oduburu, secretary of the medical and health workers’ union, Ozurumba Anthony, chairman of the senior civil servants’ association in the Hospital and Dr. Udeagha Charles, president of the national association of resident doctors vowed that they would not allow a return to the dark days.
“Our stand is very clear; for more than 8 years we have had crisis in this Hospital over the bad leadership of the medical director; we have tried times without number to resolve the differences amicably but he refused.
“Due to his stubbornness, and fortunately for us, the board of the hospital suspended him and now, instead of him to honorably bow out, he is making desperate moves to come back but the entire workforce is in one voice. The JOHESU members, other workers, the doctors are in one accord- on no account should he come back,” Friday said.
For Ozurumba, “That is why workers have come out today to resist that. He has destroyed the institution. We cried for several years to be included in IPPIS but refused; all the welfare issues were neglected by this man.
“There is no light here, there is no water. If you go to our lab, there is nothing to work with. Our pharmacy is a shadow of itself. We know that there is no letter asking him to come back. We have called the ministry, we have called the Board chairman and we confirmed that he was never reinstated.”