News Politics

Scandal rocks HMB employments of 40 pharmacists in Delta

By Shedrack Onitsha,

 

…Delta Central gets 3 slots

…Political nominee allegedly used to replace applicants who wrote exams
…Urhobo chiefs’ hand out slots to Delta North, South lovers
…Successful candidates were selected based on merit –Board Chairman

Scandal is presently rocking the recent recruitment of 40 pharmacists by the Delta State Hospitals Management Board (HMB), as some of the applicants who sat for the selection exams are alleging that they were replaced by nominees of politicians from a section of the state.

It should be recalled that Delta State Government on Monday, September 28th, 2020 gave approval for the employment of 40 pharmacists to bridge the manpower deficiency of pharmaceutical personnel in government hospitals across the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had expressed worry that 39 out of 64 government hospitals in the state, had no pharmacists, stressing that the development was not healthy to health care policies and programmes of his administration.

He said, no hospital could perform optimally without the professional input of a pharmacist.

“If we have 40 pharmacists with 64 hospitals, we know that obviously is not right. I don’t see why we would allow the situation to degrade to that very level because I, also know that recently, I gave approval for the Hospitals Management Board (HMB) to employ doctors and nurses and I don’t think that reasonable provision was made to employ pharmacists.

“Because for us to have 39 of our hospitals without even a single pharmacist, obviously is not right and it ought not to be so.

“So, the Chairman of Hospitals Management Board, at least that one (the issue of shortage of pharmacists in government hospitals) I know I can attend to, I want a memo that will get to my table before the close of the week to employ 40 pharmacists.

“Actually, I don’t need a clap for this. The real truth is that every hospital should have at least one pharmacist. We have been employing people along the line. The huge numbers of staff that we have in this state and the exposure that we have in terms of salaries that we pay does not seem to collaborate this position because if we have been employing staff in many other places (areas in the state civil service) I don’t see any reason why there should be lack of pharmacists within our hospitals. I think that is an anomaly and it must be corrected,” he added.

Following the directive of the governor and subsequent approval by the State Executive Council, HMB placed adverts for vacancies for pharmacists and application forms were sold to interested applicants, while the selection exam was held on Saturday, 5th December 2020.

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Advocate.ng exclusively gathered from a source in the HMB Asaba, that while form was sold for applicants at the rate of N5,000 and a selection exam conducted, some top management of the board aided by the State Commissioner of Health jettisoned the release of the result for selection exam, rather allotted the 40 available positions to political interest from a section of the state.

According to a source, a senior official in HMB who spoke to Advocate.ng but pleaded for anonymity, accused the State Commissioner of Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, of allegedly derailing the entire recruitment exercise by bringing politics into the process, rather than following laid down procedures initially set out by the Board.

He noted that the “well-intended recruitment of 40 pharmacists by the state governor to bridge manpower deficiency has been turned to charade by some self-serving political gladiators with ethnic agenda.”

Speaking also, one of the applicants who simply gave his name as Edemu, said that it’s sad to seat for an exam without seeing your scores only to hear that people who didn’t seat for the exams are been called on to come and pick up employment letter just because they came from a section of the state.

According to him, “how do you explain the fact that all the applicants from Delta Central no one passed the selection exams, and it took the intervention of the governor for Delta Central to be given three slots? When has our people become so doll that none could pass selection exams and yet did far better than some of those they called up to pick up the job while in school?

“The government would have quietly recruited those they wanted, as it’s currently done in other ministries without coming to the public to make us believe that they were going to provide a level playing field for all applicants, this is really sad,” he added.

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Advocate.ng further gathered that the 3 slots given to Delta Central following Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s intervention when he saw the list and discovered that there was no Urhobo on the list, was also gifted to girlfriends’ relations in Delta North and South by the Urhobo Chiefs whom the governor gave the 3 slots.

According to a PDP chieftain who also spoke to us in confidence said: “They were calling their girlfriends on phone from house to come and collect appointments letter, and when we complained, they now gave three slots to Delta Central, somebody was telling me that one of the Chief gave his girlfriend’s brother also from Delta North his own slot, another gifted his girlfriend who is an Ijaw, it was only the last Chief who brought his to his cousin.

“Our people didn’t even fill their slots, later HBM will tell Deltans that it was done on merit, what we discovered is that all slots have been given to Delta North people, this is a lesson to our leaders from Delta Central; I hope they will learn,” he noted.

All efforts to speak and get a reaction from the State Commissioner of Health proved abortive, as calls to his mobile line were not answered, text and WhatsApp messages sent to him were not also responded to as at the time of filing this report.

However, the Chairman, Hospital Management Board, Dr Austin Obidi when contacted on phone said the allegation that politicians nominee were used to replacing the applicants who wrote the exam, is not true and a baseless allegation.

He posited that the whole process was done transparently and that the selection of successful applicants was purely based on merit without political or ethnic consideration, stressing that the position applied for was a professional one and as such, there is no room for compromise.

According to him, “that is not true the details of the examinations are there, you know the governor we have, he checks and cross-checks, so anybody working under him who does not do the same, he is only working to leave the system.

“There is no one person, please quote me, who for any reason did not take part in the examination, which was employed.

“We made sure that we follow the rules properly, anybody who knows me will tell you, I do not bend the rule for anybody, not even my child, so that statement is totally unfounded, and it’s very untrue.

You want to come to the office you can come to the office, we have nothing to hide, if you are not taken today, it might be your turn tomorrow, when we do these exams in the past, they just pay some little token for administrative charges, they do all over the state, his Excellency because of the person he is, said that nobody should pay one dim, one kobo; though some paid 5 thousand Naira, the money was refunded before they sat for the exams when people do this kind of thing they discourage people who want to work.

When asked why only three slots were given to Delta Central out of the 40 young pharmacists that were employed, Dr Obidi said, though Delta Central has a lot of intelligent people, the selection of successful applicants were purely based on merit without political or ethnic consideration.

“We intend to do as much balance as possible, we make sure that merit is the first thing, people in Delta are intelligent people, my wife is from Delta Central, so, nobody has put them down but, I can tell you those who were employed were based on merit.

“It’s a professional thing; this is not just like every other civil service job and soon we are going to employ Lab Technicians and Lab Scientist, what if the people from Delta South that come out on Top? We are also going to employ medical officers soon; who knows if people from Delta Central would come out top.

“We should not make everything in Delta look like it’s we versus them. We are one state, so it’s not a question of anybody shortchanging any part of the state,” he added.

 

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