Tussle for headship dogs Yaba psychiatric hospital
All is not well with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital (FNPH), Yaba, Lagos, as medical doctors under the aegis of the FNPH chapter of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) in conjunction with other health professionals in the hospital are bickering with the acting medical director (MD), Dr Rahman Lawal, over the latter’s renewed appointment as the acting medical director.
Lawal’s four-year tenure ended this year, few months after he attained the compulsory retirement age of 60. While the medical workers are saying he did not have the locus standi under the public service rule to stand a chance to be re-appointed for another term, Lawal told The Guardian that he is qualified for another tenure, because he retired in 2011 as a medical consultant to pave way for him to be MD, even after the age of 60.
Speaking to The Guardian on the matter, FNPH Chairman MDCAN, Dr Grace Ijarogbe, accused the MD of low performance.
Ijarogbe also accused the MD of conniving with some officials in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to perpetuate himself in the office illegally, and urged President Mohammadu Buhari to intervene in the crisis.
Ijarogbe said: “Base on performance alone, even if the man is 30 years old, there is no way the hospital will survive another four years under his tenure, without so much mishap. We work in a very dangerous premise; we manage mentally ill patients. The reason we say the person who should be an MD should be a professional is for him to think about of the logistics of the hospital, and set provide the necessary things. But it is not like that. There is no security when we are running clinics. We have had incidences where doctors were beaten up, and female doctors were nearly raped by patients in this hospital. Other doctors will have to come around as part of rescue team, using shoes to defend each other, which ought not to be.”
On headship, the Consultant on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said: “We went to Lawal to tell him that we were hearing rumour on his tenure elongation. He told us that he had re-applied for a second term. We told him it is not possible because of public service rule. We urged him to put up a succession plan so that there will not be lacuna in the system. He told us that it was none of our business, adding that he will settle the Ministry. The Federal Ministry of Health can be settled, that is what he told us categorically. And that the people who will take this decision are the ones he is talking to. And that once he can settle them, all of us will have to accept whatever their decision will be. We were, however, confident. We wrote to the FMOH to say that we held that Lawal was bidding for a second term. We stated that we wanted the Ministry to state in clear terms whether he had the legal standing to do this or not. The Ministry was cautious about it. But they sent us the two documents we already have. We take that as an answer. If you send us Oronsaye circular, it says Lawal cannot be reappointed as an MD. If you go by public service rule, he cannot.
“He was supposed to retire on August 21, and workers started countdown for him on August 15 with the hope that he will have a meeting with us to announce his successor. But by August 15, we had that he traveled to the FMOH in Abuja.
“ On Friday, the former MD appeared and called a meeting. We were happy that finally that he would do the needful to handover. But to our amazement, he brought a letter from FMOH signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Linus Awute, adding that from the content of the letter, he had been mandated to be acting as MD. But how can the substantive MD now become the acting MD?”
The Guardian obtains a copy of the letter, which was signed by Awute and addressed to Lawal, on August, 20,2015 with the title Re: Letter of Recommendation Dr R.A Lawal (Medical Director).
It reads: “ I write to extend my modest compliments and acknowledge receipt of a letter dated March 19, 2015 from the Board Chairman of FNPH, Yaba, concerning the above subject matter.
“While the request to the renewal of your appointment as the Medical Director is being processed.
I am also to convey the approval of management for you to act in the same capacity after the expiration of your tenure on August 21,2015, pending the conclusion of a Special Committee assignment on the subject matter.
“ This decision is predicated on the preponderances of comments and reports reaching the Ministry, each with a different interpretation of the tenureship of Dr. R. A Lawal as the Medical Director, FNPH, Yaba, giving rise to disruption of services currently being experienced in the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba.”
The Guardian learnt that the hospital medical professionals under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and nurses under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) have begun indefinite strike over the re-appointment of Lawal since last week.
NUAHP consists of medical laboratory scientists, pharmacists, clinical psychologists, and radiographers among others.
MDCAN and Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), The Guardian began a warning strike on Monday over the matter.
But when contacted, Lawal was silent on his performance, but stated that he was qualified to be re-appointment.
Lawal said:“They gave you their version, but did not tell you that the circular concerning the appointment of the medical director say that by the time you finish your four- year term appointment, it is renewable just once. If you know that if you are going to be 60 before you finish your tenure, you must resign your appointment as a consultant in the hospital, if you had been a consultant. That is to say you resign your civil service appointment.”