New UCTH CMD Appointment : Lobbyists take battle to Abuja as group insists on justice, equity

The tussle over who becomes the next Chief Medical Director of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, is seemingly gathering momentum as lobbyists may have moved to Abuja to ensure their favoured candidates are selected.

The interview for the selection of new CMD was held on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at UCTH Board Room. Thirteen candidates applied for the plum job; 2 were screened out and 9 were interviewed by the 14 member board.

After the interview, three candidates were shortlisted to the ministry of health who would later send their names to Presidency for final selection. The names are Prof Ekpeme Ekpeme, Prof Edet Ikpi and Prod Ngim Ngim.

Investigations revealed shortly after the selection, lobbyists have taken the battle to Abuja pressing buttons and making contacts with some powerful individuals to ensure that their favoured candidate emerges at last.

It was learnt that the camps of the leading contenders are not resting on their oars as they have reached out to their kinsmen as well as top politicians in APC advancing reasons why their preferred candidate should be selected.

While one of the factions is in support of Prof Ikpeme’s candidacy, from the Southern zone, the other group is rooting for Prof Ikpi from the central senatorial zone, thereby sharply dividing the hospital into Efik and Atam.

Those insisting on Ikpeme have argued that credibility and competence should be put ahead of ethnic background in choosing the next CMD.

As at the time of filling this report top management staff of the hospital have deserted their offices and are said to have relocated to Abuja to intensify the lobbying agenda.

One of the leading candidates working in collaboration with some top hospital functionaries in administration and accounts with tacit support from another top public officer in Buhari’s administration are doing everything at their disposal to ensure that their man from Southern senatorial district clinches the plum job.

The Abuja front, headed by one of the public officers, who also is a member of the federal executive council, is said to have deployed every tool and contacts and power lobbying for the kinsman from southern zone.

Sources close to the ministry of health headquarters in Abuja, disclosed that the top officer is trying to muscle some ministry staff into not only supporting her candidate, but forwarding her candidate's name to the Presidency just as she is keeping an eagle eye on movements of the file with regard to the appointment of next chief medical director.

Besides, the Abuja front is also said to have mobilized their top kinsmen in business and other critical sectors into the lobby group, just as they are making overtures to some powerful traditional rulers close to Buhari to see how their ‘man’ can finally sail through.

Not also resting on their oars, Ikpi backers are equally making inroads into the Presidency and the ministry of health headquarters, Abuja lobbying that it is the turn of central senatorial district as they have been marginalized in the last 35 years.

The lobbyists, comprising politicians, top government officials at federal level and some concerned groups mostly form the central and southern senatorial zones, are said to be piqued that the only candidate for the position of CMD and who hails from the central was discreetly manipulated out by a top southern staff at UCTH, by setting out some criterion that placed his candidate in advantage.

The backers have also raised the alarm that in the last 35 years the South has occupied the CMD position for 17 years while the central has taken a shot for 8 years and north 8 years.

Those form the south said to have occupied the position of Chief Medical Director from the southern senatorial zone include Profs E. B Attah, (19884-85); Itam H. Itam (1985-88); Iwatt (1988-1992); Larry Bassey (1993-1994) and Etetim Asuquo (2002-2010).
For central only Prof Roland Ndoma Egba (1994-2002) has tasted the position while Prof Thomas Agan (2011-219) is the only person from the north.

They have, therefore, taken their battle for justice to Abuja, arguing that it is high time the injustice meted out to the zone is redressed by appointing one of their sons, Prof Ikpi, as the next CMD of the hospital.
Reacting to the ugly development, a group, Concerned Staff of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, CSOUCTH, said it is very unfortunate that some segment of the state have over dominated this position since 1984 till date and it should be addressed to pacify all other segments of the state.

In a statement made available and signed by Messers Agbor John Agbor and Nathaniel Odey as Coordinators and Secretary respectively, it decried the lopsided appointment into management positions and other heads of department at the UCTH in the last couple of years.

The group averred that the revered federal hospital is gradually being turned into a sectional hospital as appointments has been deliberately skewed to favour section of the state against the interest of others who make up the hospital community, thereby throwing federal character policy into the winds.

The group said beside their southern brothers still lobbying to be made CMD,  they presently occupy all key and juicy positions to the detriment of their central and northern senatorial districts people, stressing that over-domination whether by omission or commission breeds suspicion, lack of trust and in-fighting in the hospital.

The group listed key positions occupied by their southern brothers and sisters at UCTH to include Director Administration, ( Mr Archibong Okon) second to Chief Medical Director; Chairman Medical Advisory Council, CMAC,  Dr Oboh Ngim:  Director Human Resources, Bar Eyoma; head of Nursing unit, Mrs Pricilla Bassey. Others positions shared between central and north include Chief Medical Director, Prof Thomas Agan, North; Deputy Director Finance, Eloma, Central; and head of Works, Mr Offor, central.

The group further pointed out that it is high time the position of Chief medical Director is rotated among the three senatorial zones as has always been the case with the central being allowed to take over from the incumbent CMD, Prof Agan, after the expiration of his tenure in April 2019.
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