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13.07.2021 highlights FMC Abeokuta Is Dying — and One Man Backed by Powerful People is Behind it

Published 13th Jul, 2021

By Adeola Oladipupo

In June 2017 when Professor Adewale Musa-Olomu was appointed Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Abeokuta in Ogun State, no one knew that by the end of his tenure, four years later, the hospital would retrogress and he would be enmeshed in a series of scandals threatening to tear the centre apart.

Illegal recruitment, diversion of funds, employment racketeering, among others; the FMC under Musa-olomu’s control allegedly flouted multiple laws and regulations, interviews with staff who asked to be anonymous and documents seen by FIJ revealed. 

Still, Musa-olomu, accused of violating Public Service Rules (PSR), including age falsification, misappropriation of funds and abuse of office, is reportedly being positioned by influential Ogun State citizens for reappointment as Medical Director when the scandals subside. 

THOUSANDS OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT, JOB SLOTS TO BRIBE OPPOSITIONS

Ignoring PSR guidelines on the recruitment of staff at the FMC, including advertisement in national newspapers and rigorous screening processes, Musa-olomu allegedly employed over 2,000 people. But poor manpower planning resulted in employed staff members lacking office space and work tools.

A staff member told FIJ that for many of the recruitments, Musa-Olomu either gave administrative staff verbal instructions to employ or wrote on note pads that appointment letters should be issued. 

It was also gathered that some union leaders and officials from supervisory bodies, including the Ministry of Health, were offered employment quotas in order to allow the Medical Director’s unprofessional conduct.

“Medical Directors are required to get approval for recruitments; it is called personnel budget and planning. If it is approved, then you recruit. The people who should have been involved in doing this are also involved in giving him people to employ,” a staff member said.

Citing an example of alleged inducement of union members by Musa-olomu, a staff member said the FMCA Chapter of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) did not object to the Medical Director’s unethical conducts because its Chairperson, Sara Ibiyemi, benefited from the illegal recruitment when her husband, Olusola Ibiyemi, was employed as a Visiting Consultant Community Dentist in October 2019. FIJ asked Dr Ibiyemi for comments but she declined, insisting she would not speak over the phone. 

APPOINTMENT BY NOTEPAD! AND SUDDENLY.

In November 2020, using a notepad, Musa-olomu notified the Head of Department of Surgery to “kindly accommodate” Dr Tiamiyyu, a newly-employed consultant neurosurgeon, because “the establishment officer is not around to give him his letter”.

 “Pls he (Dr Tiamiyyu) is starting today,” he wrote.

“Whether he was on the seat or not, it is not a reason to use a notepad to employ somebody. It is the high point of reckless employment. The system some of us went through to get government jobs was rigorous,” the staff member said.

BRIBE-FOR-JOB SCANDAL

Employment at the hospital under the watch of Musa-olomu was for the highest bidder; federal character principle was jettisoned and many applicants were not scrutinised before their employment. Appoinment letters also carried irregular signatures. 

A committee set up by the Medical Director to investigate how some medical officers secured employment at the centre found five staff responsible for operating a cash-for-job operation. They are Onyenucheya Daniel, Taiwo Toheed, one Adefiwitan, Atanda Jelili and Kujore Abiodun.

An insider told FIJ that Musa-olomu created the panel because he suspected that some persons who opposed his administration were responsible for the strange names he saw on the employment list.

Investigations revealed that some members of staff working at the office of the Medical Director colluded with other personnel to illegally profit from the recruitment process. 

In one instance, the committtee found that Abiodun, a principal executive officer who works at the office of establishment saddled with the responsibility of issuing employment letters, received N200,000 through Toheed, from Daniel, a medical officer who was paid N700,000 by two candidates for jobs at FMC. 

Personnel assigned to Musa-olomu’s office would add names of candidates who had bribed them on employment lists for the Medical Director’s signature. 

“Sometimes, Medical Director will just issue verbal directive to go and employ, and thereafter such names will be compiled in sheets of paper for MD’s signature,” Jelili, admin officer at the Medical Director’s office who was accused of receiving between N70,000 and N80,000 from Abiodun in one of the illegal deals, told the probe panel.

It was also found that application letters of at least two applicants were written by Daniel and passed to other members of the syndicate. Toheed, who got employed as a medical officer at the hospital after his father visited Musa-olomu, acted as a middle man for the syndicate.

While some indicted persons were recommended to be issued letters of warning, it was advised that others should be deployed to departments where they would not interface with persons seeking employment.   

“When the committee’s findings indicted the MD’s boys, he became unwilling to implement their recommendations until the hospital’s Board Chairman intervened,” one staff member said.

Many staff have partly blamed the growing debt of the hospital, which was N512,475,593.30 as of April 2021, on unnecessarily large manpower. In the first four months of 2021, the hospital incurred  N105,477,036 in debt.

DIVERSION OF FUNDS

About four years after the Drug Revolving Fund (DRF) meant to incentivise the medical centre’s staff working at the Pharmacy Department was abolished when the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) became effective in 2014, sources at the centre accused Professor Musa-Olomu of diverting over N200,000,000 to pay DRF last year.

“The money was for the payment of health workers’ arrears but the Medical Director disbursed it to himself and his cronies in the Finance Department for selfish reasons,” a senior staff member said.

But the management reversed its decision when the FMC Abeokuta Chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) threatened an industrial action. 

In a letter to the SSAUTHRIAI, the hospital’s management admitted that there was no provision for the payment of DRF and noted that the Director of Finance had been instructed to retrieve the disbursed DRF allowance from beneficiaries. 

But there are allegations that the many beneficiaries, including the Medical Director, have not returned the funds illegally disbursed to them.

Ayo Obabiyi, the Chairman of SSAUTHRIAI, told FIJ that his position at the time as a unionist was to ensure that everyone got the allowance.

“Since management concluded that allocation was illegal and beneficiaries should return the money, I couldn’t flog the issue anymore, Obabiyi said. “It is the responsibility of the management to ensure that it is refunded. But what I achieved was that the second tranche of the money was not given out.”

“This is an offence punishable by the law,” another staff member said, “yet, appropriate corrective actions have not been executed by the relevant bodies.”

EQUIPMENT DISAPPEARANCE AFTER COMMISSIONING

After the Muhammadu Buhari International Conference Centre and Telemedicine hall, a constituency project of Senator Lanre Tejuosho was commissioned in March 2021 at an event attended by dignitaries, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, telemedicine equipment, including the screen, disappeared.

Telemedicine hall

FIJ was told that the equipment was hired and the hall was used as a regular event centre after it was commissioned.

“The telemedicine project was false. In a bid to control the damage, recently we saw some people who had been awarded contracts to equip the hall coming to fix some things,”  FIJ was told.

Confronted with the challenge of bloated staff who lack basic things such as tables and chairs, Musa-Olomu allegedly converted the Allahu lateef Patients’ lodge to office space, an action that led to the assault of a House Officer by an irritant relative of a patient.  

“Currently, there is a strike action because one of them was beaten. It is a bad situation here; patients’ relatives hang around on corridors because where they should stay has been converted to office space. Even laboratory and Lab personnel stay in that building,” another member of staff said.

In 2018, the hospital approved N235 million for the purchase of a used 64 slices CT Scan Machine at the price of a new one. It paid N230 million and has an outstanding of about N5 million. Well, the machine broke down four months after installation. The hard disk of the machine showed that it had been used elsewhere, the report of an investigative panel set up by the centre’s board revealed.

Findings showed that FMC Abeokuta paid about three times more for a refurbished 64 slices Light Speed VCT as of May 2018.

Refurbished CT Scan purchased at the price of new

Serial numbers of different parts of the machine indicate that old parts of machines made by manufacturers across different countries of the world were coupled and sold to FMC Abeokuta as new. Components of the machine also have different manufacturing dates.

The supplier, Dr Ben Itsuokor, who is based in the United Kingdom, admitted to the hospital’s board in a telephone interview that the machine was refurbished but blamed the breakdown on the use of a wrong type of UPS, which caused a power surge. 

While the board stated that the supplier should bear the cost of repairs, it was silent on punitive measures for those who approved the purchase. 

When FIJ asked the Board Chairman Abdulaziz Labo Mahuta to comments, he declined, referring the journalist to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the hospital, Segun Orisajo. The PRO was yet to respond to requests for comments as of the time publishing this report.

ONE MAN, MANY NAMES AND MANY AGES

At different stages of the life of Professor Musa-Olomu, between 1978 and 2012, he used names in different order.

In 1978, the Professor presented  certificates with three names: Olawale Musa Semiu. The order of the names were different on certificates he claimed he obtained in 1979 and 1981. In 1999 and again in 2012, he substituted Olawale for Adewale and adopted Abdus-Semiu as his name.

A page of probe panel report

He did not provide documentary evidence to the investigative panel for the primary school he claimed he attended. He also could not give evidence for the scholarship he claimed to have had between 1974 and 1975.

This inconsistency raises questions about the authenticity of the certificates he tendered.

There is also a discrepancy with the Professor’s age. While his mother claimed that he was born on January 6, 1960, his father, in an age declaration affidavit, claimed that he was born on January 6,1964.

The probe panel found that the Professor had been using the 1960 year of birth, until he changed it in 2009 to the 1964 year of birth. 

“In addition, the affidavit sworn to by the late father (as claimed) did not make any reference whatsoever to the one earlier sworn to by the late mother,” the panel reported.

Civil servants are known to falsify their ages to ensure they stay longer in service, an offence punishable under the Public Service Rule.

“There is sufficient evidence of age falsification, as two different dates of birth are in use by the Medical Director. This is against the provisions of the Public Service Rules…,” the probe panel observed.

ABUSE OF OFFICE

In 2018, Musa-olomu illegally approved a foreign training for his son, Engineer Mohammed Babatunde Musa, when his appointment had not been confirmed as he was 11 months on the job.

“The approval did not follow due process,” the investigative panel stated.

The panel also noted that of the three staff members Musa-olomu claimed to have awarded foreign training to, only the Medical Director’s son was paid salary while on training. The two others who were paid were training within the country, not abroad.

Following a petition and deliberation, Mohammed refunded six months of illegally paid salary, amounting to  N2,476,755.66.

The Medical Director has also been accused of verbally assaulting some staff members. 

He was reported to have said to a Chief Consultant Anaesthetist in the presence of junior or senior staff: ” Who is this, who invited you here, who is this imbecile?”

The probe panel “relatively substantiated” the allegation of poor interpersonal relations and recommended that the Professor should be advised to improve his interpersonal relationship with staff.

Festus Oguntoye, the director of Finance and Account, whose office would be involved in the disbursement of controversial funds, non-recovery of illegally paid monies and approval to purchase refurbished CT Scan at the price of new one, neither answered calls nor replied a text message sent to him.

Musa-olomu, whose tenure as the Medical Director of FMC Abeokuta was mostly scandalous, did not respond to an opportunity to comment. Calls were not answered and text messages were not replied.

Also, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesman of the EFCC, did not respond to requests for comments as of the time of publishing this report.

Olorunimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health, told FIJ that the  ministry had completed it investigation of the crisis at FMC Abeokuta and the report had been sent to the President through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for action.

“Let me assure you that there is no attempt in any way to cover up anything,” Mamora said.

“I cannot reveal the findings of investigations to you. As of now, the MD is no longer there because his tenure has expired and in line with the public service rules, the next in line who is the head of clinical service is now there as Medical Director in acting capacity.”

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Published 13th Jul, 2021

By Adeola Oladipupo

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