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Uneasy calm as UBTH awaits new CMD


University of Benin Teaching Hospital

Since June 16, 2017 when the eight years tenure of Professor Michael Ibadin, as Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) came to an end on a resounding note, intense politicking, lobbying and intrigues have traced the process of appointing his successor.

One of the track records of Prof. Ibadin was the Sickle Cell blood transplant, the first of its kind in this part of the world. It came only after Egypt and South Africa. After almost three years, a 27 year old was the first beneficiary.

Ibadin said that the success was achieved through collaboration with the University of Basel Switzerland, which provided the technical support and the machine identified as cobe spectra that would drain the blood through one arm and replace it through the other arm at the same time.

Upon his exit, no fewer than 15 applicants have so far indicated interest and passed through the interview process conducted by the Federal Government under the close supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health.

The latest is that among the 15 applicants, 11 of them eventually sat for the examination out of which three: Professor Sylvester Idogun, Professor Alfred Ogbemudia and the current acting CMD, Dr. Darlington Obaseki, came tops and their names forwarded to the presidency from which the Acting President will at his discretion pick a suitable and most competent, a decision The Guardian gathered could be made anytime soon.

Following the tickling of the clock and the momentum at UBTH, with the conduct of the interview, which has generated so much controversy as to the criteria for the selection, many at this level, it was gathered including medical doctors and stakeholders have been divided and engaged in intense politicking, last minute lobbying among the remaining three who The Guardian learnt have been deploying both human and material resources to outdo each other following the intrigues and outcome of the top three shortlisted by the federal government.

Other applicants in the race whose pedigree speaks volume and boast of an intimidating credentials, who also hail from the two contending Senatorial zones, namely Edo North and Edo South Senatorial District, but did not make the final shortlist include, the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Edo State Branch, Prof. Afekhide Omoti and a former President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, respectively.

Majority of the vested interest groups and stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to appoint a candidate based on Merit, professionalism as well as adherence to Federal Character Rules to avoid unrest, tension and unnecessary disharmony among health professionals and groups.

Hope is however high among the contestants who have distinguished themselves in their various specialties and have proven integrity in their career. But the criterion of senatorial zone in the appointment of a CMD has continued to attract attention as the agitation for a CMD from Edo South or Edo North has been the wishes of most stakeholders and interest group in the hospital.

They argued that Edo Central should be out of it having produced the last two CMDs and true to type the three finalists are Prof. Idogun from Edo North Senatorial District and from Edo South are, Dr. Obaseki and Prof. Alfred Ogbemudia.

It is the prerogative of the Federal Government to pick among the first three most successful candidates who performed creditably in the interview for the job.

The Guardian gathered yesterday that several Benin interest groups and politicians are already pulling their weight behind a Benin candidate emerging as CMD of UBTH as they believed they have the capacity to call the shots.

However, there seems to be a more vociferous voice from Edo North under the name Afenmai Renaissance Group, throwing their weight behind Prof. Idogun, an erudite scholar and professor of chemical pathology with core leadership values.

The Guardian investigation confirmed that the appointment of persons in the Federal Government owned institution in the state has not favoured the Edo North Senatorial District as almost all occupying principal position in these institutions were skewed in favour of Edo South individuals.

As UBTH is concerned, analysts and medical experts and other health professionals believe in the interest of fair play only a candidate from Edo North occupying the office of CMD can correct the perceived political marginalisation and balance the equation as well as bring fairness to the rules and dictates as contained in the federal character.

In a statement released yesterday and signed by its president, Prof. Don Momodu, Secretary General, Prof. Donald Ijegbai; and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Wesley Olowojaiye, the group said it is the turn of Edo North to produce the next CMD for equity, fairness and justice to all.

“In the history of the hospital, whereas the Edo South and Edo Central Senatorial Districts have produced several Chief Executives of the hospital with Edo Central Senatorial District being in the saddle for an unbroken 16 years, no one from the Edo North Senatorial District has ever been appointed as the Chief Executive of the hospital despite the availability of competent and sound practitioners from the zone who have rendered selfless services to the hospital and the nation,” the statement said.

They said of the three Federal tertiary health institutions in Edo State, an Edo Central man, Prof. Sylvanus Okogbeni, heads the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH); the Neuropsychiatric Hospital is headed by an Edo South man, Dr. Sunday Osasu Olotu “and we believe that a competent Edo North man should head the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.”

The body, made up of professionals, youths, students and elders from Edo North said, “our senatorial district has assessed the situation and after several hours of very exhaustive deliberations noted as follows: “There has been a systematic marginalization of Edo North Senatorial District in the appointment of qualified medical professionals to the position of Chief Executive of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) since its establishment such that no Edo North son has ever been appointed as the Chief Medical Director.

“Edo North Senatorial District has many competent medical professionals in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). “The interview conducted last week threw up an astute, visionary and distinguished Edo North son, Prof. Sylvester Idogun, a professor of Chemical Pathology whose name alongside two others have been forwarded to the presidency for confirmation as the chief Medical Director of the hospital.

“Consequently, we resolved to demand for the appointment by the Acting President of Prof. Sylvester Idogun who distinguished himself in the interview as the Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in the interest of justice, equity and fair play.

“His pedigree is further boosted by the fact that he is a goal-getter who is loved by all staff and who will bring his wealth of experience to bear in the administration of the hospital in an atmosphere that is devoid of industrial disharmony and unrest.”

The University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) as a tertiary health facility came into being in 1973, following the enactment of an edict (number 12). As the sixth of the first generation teaching hospitals in Nigeria, it was established to complement her sister institution, University of Benin, and to provide secondary and tertiary care to the then Midwestern Region (now Edo and Delta states) and its environs.

It also provides necessary facilities for training of high and middle level manpower for the health industry and spearheads research opportunities for lecturers in the University and other interested persons with local morbidity burden as research question(s).

Through the Community Health Centres in Ogbona and Udo, and the General Practice Clinic that came on stream later, she equally provides some avenues for primary health care to the immediate communities.

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