Removal of nursing school principal sparks controversy
For allegedly refusing to compromise standards and clear unqualified students for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, the Principal of the School of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Mrs. Cecilia Oduburu, has been removed from office.
The Guardian gathered that Oduburu, who was appointed in January 2014 after a competitive interview was removed and redeployed to the hospital’s ward in June this year, based on the directive of the management.
In a petition entitled “Wrongful Removal From Office,” addressed to the Registrar, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, she accused the immediate past board chairman of the hospital, Acho Nwakanma and the Medical Director, Dr Jojo Onwukwe of being responsible for her ordeal.
In the petition dated July 17, 2015 made available to The Guardian in Enugu, Mrs. Oduburu narrated that her ordeal began with her refusal to clear three students “who were not qualified for registration with the Nursery and Midwifery Council.”
She said: “On the 20th of May, 2015, while I was still on leave, the board chairman called me on phone and told me that he wanted me to allow three of my students who had refused to complete their compulsory two weeks community posting, which is one of the pre-requisites for the completion of their programme to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria. “I took time to explain to the chairman how the three students refused to complete their posting out of the 30 students in the set.
The board chairman after listening to my story affirmed that my action was right. Surprisingly, a few days later, the chairman called me and was pressurising me to wave the posting for the students even when it had been duly explained to him that it is against the N&MCN regulation.
He told me that one of the said students had travelled to Australia and desperately needed the registration to enable her practice.
He mounted so much pressure on me but I insisted that those students must complete their due posting and be cleared by the school before registration with the council because that would amount to lowering the standard of training in the profession. “My refusal to wave this posting for these three students did not go down well with the Board chairman who felt that I had disobeyed his instruction, even when he knows it was wrong.
Now the chairman wants to show that he can remove me and get things done his own way, not minding the illegality and the adverse effect on our noble profession. “It is shocking the determination of this clique to bastardise the nursing profession.
I am worried that each time I cry out to you, no action has ever been taken to save the situation.” Oduburu stated that on the 25th of June, she was invited to appear before a disciplinary committee of the hospital with her lawyer. “I had no option than to do so.
On that same day, the 25th of June, my lawyer who is also representing some other staff that were illegally indicted for one offence or the other and were equally asked to bring their lawyers, wrote to the management and committee members.
He requested them to reschedule the proceedings to Wednesday July 1st, since there was a conflict of dates with his own schedule,” she said.
Although she had gone to court earlier to stop the meeting as well as prevent further trial of her matter following rumours that the disciplinary committee meeting may not be fair to her, the court had same day ordered a stay of proceedings on her case.
Despite the court injunction, Mr. Afam Ndu and Mrs. Buzo-Maduka on the instruction of the erstwhile board chairman, Nwakanma and the Medical Director, Dr. Jojo Onwukwe, changed the key leading to the entrance to my office and all the keys to the file and stationery cupboards thereby denying me access to working materials and my office.
In such situation, I only gained access to my office from 9am and above each day when the vice principals who go home with the keys report to work. I was kept outside until their arrival each day.
On Thursday, July 16th, while I had left the office, Acho Nwakanma, the board chairman, Afam Ndu (Vice Principal, Academics), accompanied by officers from the New Haven police station, some thugs and some carpenters broke into my office and removed my things, destroyed my key and replaced it with a new key thereby denying me access to my office.
The chairman threatened to deal with me for hiring the services of a lawyer to speak for me and instructed that anybody who sees me around the premises should deal with me, that I am no longer a staff of the school.
After he had completed this illegal and inhuman action, meant to enforce my removal as the principal of the school, the boards of federal parastatal, agencies were dissolved with immediate effect that same day. “At present, I do not know what and what were removed from my office and where they are.
I also have no office and I cannot accept the redeployment to the ward because I was not employed as ward nurse. “I am crying out for justice.
I have been facing incessant persecution and humiliations in the hands of both the medical director and board chairman for reasons best known to them.
For the past three years that I started and headed the school, I have been carrying out my duties with dedication and fear of God.
My refusal to wave the posting for these three students did not go down well with the board chairman who felt that I had disobeyed his instruction, even when he knows it was wrong. Now the chairman wants to show that he can remove me and get things done his way not minding the illegality and the adverse effect on our noble profession. It is shocking the determination of this clique to bastardise the nursing profession. I am worried that each time I cry out to you, no action has ever been taken to save the situation
This has resulted in my students’ excellent performance in the final nursing and midwifery qualification examination”, she said. Oduburu, who called for the intervention of the Health Ministry in her matter, said that the three students were yet to be cleared for registration. “I wrote to the council asking them not to register the three students.
The hospital management wanted me to give a counter instruction to the council, which I have refused to do.
Presently, I learnt they have set up a committee to look into the case of the students”, she said. When contacted, Nwakanma and Onwukwe said Oduburu was removed for “gross incompetence”, adding that her appointment letter specified that she would be removed if found wanting in her duties.
They agreed that the redeployed principal was embroiled in a battle with management of the hospital and further accused her of insubordination. “She has been redeployed to the ward because she is incompetent. She has not been sacked when her activities were against civil service rules.
She came from the ward to head the school and has been sent back to the ward. We cannot have a headship that does not respect constituted authority,” they said.