The feud between the management and staff of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri took a new dimension on Friday when hundreds of staff of the medical centre took to the streets of Owerri the Imo State capital.
Carrying placards with various derogatory inscriptions calling for the removal of their Medical Director, Dr Angela Uwakem, they alleged financial misappropriation, high-handedness and victimisation.
The protesting staff, who gathered under three different unions; National Union of Allied and Health Professionals, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria and National Association Of Nigeria Nurses And Midwives, FMC chapter, alleged that the personnel funds released by the Accountant-General of the Federation in 2014 for the 2013/2014 promotion arrears meant for workers’ welfare was vired into capital projects in the centre knowing full well that virement is a serious offence in the Nigerian constitution.
They also accused her of victimizing staff, who did not support her proposal of privatizing some departments and units in the centre.
While explaining to newsmen the cause of their grievances, the Chairman of the FMC chapter of the National Union of Allied and Health Professional, Clifford Ezeukwu, accused the Medical Director of financial misappropriation, victimisation, high-handedness and non-payment of staff promotional arrears which has been approved by the federal government.
He went further to allege that through a dubious means, the Medical Director vired the promotional arrears of staff into capital projects which is an offence under the law. She was also accused of high-handedness, victimization and employment racketeering.
It was not the first or second time staff of Federal Medical Centre Owerri would be protesting against their management. To paint a more serious scenario this time, they were all clad in black attire.
Before ending-up their protest at the hospital premises, they walked the streets of Owerri causing heavy traffic gridlock, chanting songs and showing off red cards and whistles connoting ‘time up’ for the Medical Director.
The protesters called on the outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan and the incoming President, General Muhammadu Buhari to probe the activities of the Medical Director.
They also advised that she resigns her job honourably, adding that as at time of the protest, members of the various unions have embarked on an indefinite strike until the federal government intervenes in the matter.
The Medical Director, Dr Angela Uwakwem, was not available to respond to the allegations. She was said to be in a board meeting. The Acting Board Chairman of FMC Owerri, Senator Onyeka Okoroafor, who was about joining the board meeting, however, addressed the protesters on behalf of the management.
He said that a committee would be set up to look into all the allegations levelled against the Medical Director, saying no matter the circumstance, no action will be taken unilaterally without the consent of the union.
He urged the workers to go back to their duty posts as all matters would be addressed accordingly.