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FMC, Owerri: Decay, lies, incompetence and impunity


Federal Medical Center, Owerri, Medical Director, Dr. Mrs. Angela Uwakwem

I will wish the Interim Management Committee of the Federal Medical Center, Owerri will treat the issues raised in my write-up with as much speed as they manufactured that chronicle of lies they fed some media houses with last week, pretending to be responding to an earlier article I wrote about the complete absence of administration in that health for the past one year. 

One reason why I am not bothered about what they wrote is that I am very sure they were laughing at themselves while they appended their signatures to those insulting lies. 

I am only surprised that a man as respectable as Professor Ndubuisi Ekeh has allowed this temporary appointment to reduce him to a mere gossiper and associated himself with that crappy piece that best qualifies as market women’s exchanges. 

I still doubt if Professor Ekeh really read that piece or even read mine, before appending his highly expensive and respected signature to that piece of trash which cost the Federal Medical Center, some Millions of Naira to syndicate across the internet and the main media. 

It would have been more gratifying to me, if this interim management had used the money they deployed for this media war to solve some of the problems that have held that center down for over one year now and almost converting the supposed life-saving center to a mortuary of sorts. 

Let me advise them from the onset, that the best response that I will appreciate for this particular essay is for them to take actions to correct the ills that I will reveal.

And if they feel maligned, like they claimed, they may as well make real their threat to sue me to court or write a formal letter of complaint against me to whomever or wherever they wish.

I had already made up my mind on the topic to treat last week, before some of my friends and comrades started bombarding me with calls to call my attention to some watery defense which the FMC, IMC paid for to be published as a kind of response to an article I wrote on the terrible state of affairs in that hospital. 

May I restate it here that I stand by everything I wrote in that earlier article titled: FMC, OWERRI: ONE YEAR WITHOUT AN ADMINISTRATOR. 

The truth is that since some hooligans parading as union leaders decided to disturb the peace of that hospital by insisting on the ouster of the Medical Director, Dr. Mrs. Angela Uwakwem, that hospital has known no peace and things have continued to deteriorate to the disadvantage of Imo people, especially those of us who do not have the financial wherewithal to access medical care in higher hospitals outside the State or the country. 

The Federal Government saw through this predicament of the ordinary Imolite and decided to set up an Interim Management Committee with the unambiguous mandate to restore services to the hospital and redefine the terms of engagement to all staff of the hospital. 

This IMC, led in paper by Professor Ekeh Ndubuisi but in reality by Ayo Olagunju has completely failed on those terms of reference and rather converted itself to an extension of the Labour Union.

The Interim Management Committee made it obvious in that advertorial that they either do not understand their mandate or have arrogated to themselves powers outside their terms of reference. 

The job of investigating Dr. Angela Uwakwem is not part of the reasons they were sent to the Center, but in every line of that badly written advertorial, they left no one in doubt that they have now transformed or intend to transform themselves into not just an investigative panel but also a court of law that will indict Dr. Angela Uwakwem and possibly condemn her to the gulag. 

Unfortunately for them, they do not have such powers. There have been panels in the past that did this job, and they all gave Dr. Uwakwem a clean bill of health.

Dr. Angela Uwakwem will hardly recognize me, if she sees me on the road or anywhere. I will definitely not be allowed entrance into her house if I should make an attempt to visit. 

I have only spoken to her thrice on the phone and that was early last year or thereabout when I wanted to get her own side of the story on the issues troubling the hospital. 

The only reason why the anyone or institution would choose to use the word ‘sponsored’ in their advertorial several times is because they must have been made to believe that you cannot get any favorable reportage or opinion for yourself without sponsoring such. 

It appears that the only thing the IMC know about the press and its practice is how to pay journalists to write favorable reports on them. 

Those who will depend on paid agents or journalists for favorable reportage are usually the underperforming and corrupt individuals who are keen on covering up their dirty tracks. 

If those who scribbled that piece of fiction for the IMC, had taken their time to do a little background check on me, they would have been able to find out the basics about me, and known that I am not the type to be bought with the highest money in the world. 

Of course, if money was the attraction, I would have got bundles of it from the union leaders who were ready to splash the highest amount on anyone who was ready to malign the person of Angela Uwakwem.

It is a height of deceit and I daresay irresponsibility on the part of the IMC, that they evaded the challenge on the crisis at the center. 

It is also disdainful to the enlightened and highly educated people of Imo State that the IMC only ended their defense on the persistent crisis at the hospital by reminding us that it was as a result of the crisis that the IMC was set up. 

The satisfactory explanation would have been for the IMC to tell us what steps they have taken since assuming office as the Management Committee of the hospital to rein in the crisis at that center. 

It is clear that the Ayo Olagunju controlled IMC are still swimming in the euphoria of being members of the FMC, IMC, that they fail to realize that they have few weeks to the end of their tenure, yet, they have not achieved any of the aims for which they were appointed.

What the IMC fail to realize is that for me to have the kind of information at my disposal, I must have people very close to happenings in the hospital as my informant. 

People who are very close to the IMC are my Comrades in this struggle, and there are few information I cannot get about what they do or even want to do at the highest levels in that hospital. 

It is therefore, disgraceful to them that they could come up with the white lie about some cadre of staff remaining in the same department for upwards of 10-12 years. 

Information available to me indicates that redeployment/posting of staff in the category referred to by the IMC was very recurrent in the hospital. An obviously alarmed source within the hospital told me that ‘at no time in the history of FMC has any staff in the category mentioned by the IMC stayed in a particular department for more than four years’.

What is obvious however is that the IMC, carried out the last redeployment and posting of staff in the hospital with clear bias, as the only staff who were transferred from their original duty posts are those staff who refused to be intimidated by an erratic and violent group within the labour union. 

For instance, I was rattled to learn of the case of the most senior accounting officer in the Accounting Department who recently underwent training in a particular schedule, but was transferred from the Accounting Department to the Histopathology Department where not even a single pay point exists. 

Who then is placing round pegs in square holes? 

A management that removed an accountant from the accounts department and transferred him to the Histopathology Department, or a management that posted that accountant to the Accounts Department and made sure he underwent regular trainings to help him on the job?

It is surprising that an IMC that has converted itself to an investigative panel could not fish out some people who have been earning more than their grade levels allow them and another staff who was receiving double salaries from the FMC and the Imo State Government simultaneously in violation of the extant rules of the public service. 

Most of the individuals involved in this malpractice are known to be arrowheads in the unrest in that hospital, as they were afraid of their shadows. 

My informants told me that these people went berserk when they learnt that the substantive Medical Director, Dr. Angela Uwakwem had been briefed about this development and she and she had set machineries in place to not only stop these malpractices but to also bring the perpetrators to book. 

Why this IMC decided to bring most of those involve in different forms of malpractices to themselves is still curious.

It is a reality that the level of power supply in that hospital has dropped drastically. Patients are now allegedly been asked to part with some money before electricity will be provided for them. 

A friend of mine told me of how she had to beg with all the tears in her eyes before personnel at the pediatric department agreed to treat her daughter who was in a critical condition. 

The IMC in trying to malign Dr. Angela Uwakwem ended up exonerating her and making it clear to the discerning that indeed the woman is a thoroughbred administrator.

For the IMC to have paid Ten Million Naira for darkness supplied to them by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company in less than six months of its stay in that hospital, while Dr. Angela Uwakwem only left no single debt in electricity bill in the close to eight years she has administered that hospital, is a big plus for her. 

Yes, the IMC claims that they met a ‘whopping’ N13,166,691.37 debt owed to the EEDC. 

There is hardly any Imolite who does not know that for seven months before the IMC was set up, the FMC was literally shut down as a result of the crisis fomented by a group of staff who have become the best friends of this IMC. 

It is simple mathematics to know that Two Million Naira multiplied by seven is more than the quoted 13 Million Naira which they met as electricity bill debt. 

It is either the IMC is writing off FMC’s money in the guise of paying electricity bill or Dr. Angela Uwakwem is a fine and transparent administrator who must be apologized to by the IMC, and all those who have contributed in maligning her.

While the IMC claims that it gets its supply of diesel directly from the NNPC, my discreet investigations show that the NNPC has not supplied a pint of diesel to the FMC since January when the IMC took over. 

The IMC should tell Imolites and the reading public which of the NNPC substations they have been making these purchases from. 

Since the IMC told us that the sum of 182,000 Naira cash was been drawn by someone would buy diesel for the hospital before they came on board, the discerning reader would expect them to furnish us with information on how much they have been drawing from the FMC for the purpose of diesel to provide the darkness they have plunged that hospital into since they took over. 

A good administrator is known by the results he or she brings to the table, not by the number of excuses they are able to manufacture. 

The fact remains that Dr. Angela Uwakwem met an FMC that was in near comatose, but was able to revive the hospital and made it the best Federal Medical Center in Nigeria. 

We want to know where the IMC has placed FMC, in the last six months they have been in charge of the hospital.

I insist that the Ayo Olagunju-controlled, or do I say commandeered, IMC has made itself an extension of that group of the Labour Union that has sworn that peace will never return to the hospital. 

For instance, this group of hooligans parading as Labour Union leaders recently attacked one Kingsley Chima, beat him to a pulp, because the young man who was a part of them had the guts to ask them to calm down so that they can give peace a chance. 

When this young man recovered from the beatings he received from these hooligans parading as union leaders, he had to take the most legitimate step possible by petitioning the Police about his experiences in the hands of these hooligans. 

The Police authorities have found it difficult arresting most if not some of these hooligans. 

This means nothing else, but that the IMC shields these suspected thugs from the law. If not, why have they not handed them over to the Police? 

As the managers of that center, they are responsible for the staff of that hospital and they should mete out appropriate punishment to those who err. 

Why have this staffs of the hospital succeeded so far in evading arrest after being involved in such nefarious act of hooliganism?

Another incident that occurred recently within the hospital which betrays the IMC as being supportive of the hooliganism of some of the Union members, in clear contravention of their mandate to redefine and enforce the terms of engagement in that hospital; 

A former top officer of the Nurse’ Union was ‘impeached’ by a group within the union because she tried to ask her colleagues to reconsider their stance on the suspended management of the hospital, since it is becoming obvious that the hospital is gradually crumbling since the suspension order was handed down to the Dr. Angela Uwakwem led management. 

Less than one week after this purported impeachment, the IMC issued the lady a query over a private altercation she had with another colleague outside the hospital. 

It is more curious that her colleague was also a Secretary of one of the Unions in the hospital who was rightly impeached by his colleagues for allegedly embezzling the Union’s funds to the tune of 500,000 Naira.

The IMC or whoever helped them author that advertorial may not have taken their time to find out the real meaning of ‘meddlesomeness’ which is one of the things they accused me of. 

How can I be a meddler in a place I am an integral part of? Whatever happens at the FMC affects me, because I am an Imolite, I have friends and relatives who are staff and patients in that hospital. 

I have lost friends in that hospital; have also had some of my friends and relatives treated in that hospital. 

When my wife wanted to put to bed, she was admitted to that hospital for some time, before we changed hospital. 

The FMC, Owerri belongs to every Imolite in particular and to every Nigerian in general. 

It is because of this fact that an Ayo Olagunju who is a Yoruba man can come down to Owerri to become Head of Administration in our hospital and we did not send him away. 

We expected him and his colleagues in the IMC to handle that place well, but from all indications, some, if not all members of that IMC seem to be more interested in what they will gain from their appointment than to deliver the right services to the hospital.

I will prefer to keep quiet on the IMC’s cheap insult to my person that I practice junk journalism, because I know that it is either they do not know the meaning of the phrase they used or they deliberately decided to open themselves up as junks or even quacks in their own fields. 

If they are not quacks in their own field, they would not respond to junk write-ups. 

Junks are meant for the waste bin, but since the FMC, IMC could sign off some good Millions of Naira to respond to what they claim to be a junk, then I leave them to the verdict of their employers.

Let me remind all members of the IMC, that the Federal Medical Center, is too sensitive an institution to be reduced to a theatre of politics, witch-hunt and any other such idiocy. 

This is a center millions of people look up to for their good health and for cures to their ailments. 

Hundreds of avoidable deaths have been recorded since this crisis started and that is what informed the decision by the Federal Government through the Federal Minister of Health to set up the IMC to ensure that the ordinary Nigerian is allowed unfettered access to good healthcare. 

The mandate of restoring services to that hospital and redefining the terms of service to all personnel of the hospital is very important not just to the government, but to the ordinary Imolites, to whom that hospital is their only hope of surviving one ailment or the other. 

The earlier these mandates are taken up seriously, the better for all of us.

God and posterity takes note of all our actions and inactions, especially as they affect humanity, and the spirits will not spare anyone whose action or inaction led to the avoidable death or sufferings of any innocent citizen anywhere.


Onwuasoanya FCC Jones

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