President Muhammadu Buhari has been petitioned by the Governing Board of the National Hospital, Abuja, to intervene in the appointment of a new Chief Medical Director for the hospital.
The letter obtained by T on Tuesday and dated March 10, 2023, was titled, ‘Appointment of Chief Medical Director/CEO for National Hospital, Abuja.’
The letter was signed by the Chairman of the Governing Board of the hospital, Patricia Etteh who stated that the procedure for the appointment of a CMD started as soon as the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, approved the board to commence the process, and advertisements were placed in two national dailies between March 8, 2022, and April 19, 2022, while the candidates were shortlisted on May 9, 2022.
However, she said five months after, efforts to get a new CMD had been delayed.
“After about three reminder letters to commence the process, the Governing Board had to wait for a period of about six months after the placement of advertisement and the shortlisting of candidates before the final approval was given to commence the written and oral interview process vide a letter No: DHS/931/11/419 of 7th October 2022.
“Criteria for screening/short-listing of candidates were adopted as presented by the representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Please also note that the date of the interview was shifted twice by the Federal Ministry of Health and this was communicated to the shortlisted candidates,” the letter read in part.
Etteh also said that a technical committee was set up, candidates underwent the interview processes and three candidates scored the highest out of the seven who participated in the oral interview but the recommendation was cancelled by the health minister.
“The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Health however cancelled the exercise which was conveyed to the Governing Board via a letter of 11th November 2022, Ref No: HMH/ABJ/529/2/1 on the grounds of a petition received from a Candidate who was earlier barred from participating for not indicating her State of Origin or presenting a “Certificate of Indigeneship,” the letter read.
Continuing, it stated that, “After a very careful and exhaustive deliberation by the Board on the cancellation, it was observed that: The Hon. Minister did not draw the attention of the Board to the petitions nor was the Board given the benefit of fair hearing in line with the principle of natural justice.
“The earlier shortlisted candidates that were barred from the exercise based on non-provision of relevant documents, particularly certificate of fitness were allowed to participate by the Honourable Minister, while all candidates were given another opportunity to re-present all relevant documents to participate in the final screening. Two candidates were barred on the grounds that one of them did not indicate her state of origin in her CV or application which is expected of every application in Nigeria. Not necessarily because she did not insert “Certificate of Indigeneship” as stated in the Honourable Minister’s letter. The second candidate was barred because he did not present his Certificate of Registration of Additional Qualification with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
“The Board sought the opinion of the representative of the Federal Character Commission on a candidate that did not indicate her State of Origin or present her Certificate of Indigeneship whether the candidate can participate or not; his answer was no, because under the law, the principle of Federal Character is very germane to this kind of recruitment. That is why the Commission is represented in the panel.”
She said a substantive CMD has not been appointed for the hospital “owing to the aspersion cast by the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Health on the exercise conducted by a Panel that was single-handedly constituted by the Honourable Minister composed of eminent Nigerians and chaired by his Permanent Secretary.
“This is regardless of the fact that the appointment of Chief Medical Director is the exclusive preserve of the Governing Board as enshrined in the Act establishing the National Hospital Abuja (Act 36 of 1999). The Governing Board nevertheless accepted the outcome of the interview which was adjudged to be free, fair and transparent.
“Your Excellency, permit me to add that the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has also received a petition by a Non-Governmental Organisation alleging the involvement of the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Health to have violated the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the recruitment of a Chief Medical Director for the National Hospital Abuja by unilaterally cancelling the exercise based on the flimsy excuse of exclusion of a candidate who did not present required and relevant document required by the panel. The candidate thereafter presented the Certificate of Indigeneship to the House Committee on Public Petition which was obtained a day after the sitting of the Interview Panel.
“Your Excellency, you may wish to note that on 21st November 2023, the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Health appointed a new panel to conduct another exercise which never took place for reasons best known to the Honourable Minister.
“Your Excellency, Sir, in the interest of natural justice and rule of law, the Governing Board seeks your kind intervention to appoint a Chief Medical Director for the National Hospital Abuja based on the outcome of the interview conducted on the 7th October 2022 where seven candidates were found appointable, but three candidates with the highest score was forwarded to Mr. President through the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Health while the one with the highest score was recommended for Mr President’s consideration for appointment.
“I am compelled to approach and brief Your Excellency on the matter knowing well that Mr President is a fair and just leader. “While we await Mr President’s intervention, please accept the assurances of our highest esteemed regards.”
The minister, when contacted on the matter had yet to respond to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.