—Accuses CDs of illegal recruitment
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
THE Federal Government may unleash the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and other related offences, ICPC, to go after some medical doctors who were not qualified to collect medical training allowance meant for House Officers on residency training programme in 2020 to the tune of N540 million.
Recall that members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, have embarked on strike since August 2 over unresolved matters with the federal government bordering on the welfare of members.
Already, the federal government has reportedly released the sum of N4.8 billion for the 2021 residency training programme.
Impeccable sources at the Federal Ministry of Health and Labour and Employment, at the weekend, disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health was considering reporting the doctors who have failed to refund the alleged illegal payment back to the treasury to the anti-corruption agencies.
One of the sources said there were three categories of medical officers involved in the scam, including some Consultant doctors.
The source further said that the government had accused management of some of the Teaching Hospitals of allegedly smuggling names of those who had completed their residency training programme into the list of House Officers that received payment from the Medical training fund in 2020.
According to the source, though the affected doctors had promised to refund the money, they were yet to do so, thereby making it difficult for the ones due for the training to access their allowance.
Investigations revealed that the government was particularly concerned that some of the consultant doctors who were involved in the alleged illegal deal have not shown remorse for their action but rather were among those collaborating with resident doctors on the ongoing strike.
The source also disclosed that out of the 8,000 House Officers that applied for the 2021 residency training programme, 2000 were screened out for not having postgraduate residency training numbers.
Besides, the source that spoke on the condition of anonymity said that verification was continuing to ensure that only those qualified are deployed for the next programme.
According to the source, the Ministry of Finance has released the sum of N4.8 billion as of this year’s residency training fund to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation two weeks ago.
Regarding the smuggling of names into the salary payment platform, the source said that the federal government has issued queries to the Chief Medical Directors of Federal Teaching Hospitals involved in the illegality.
About 205 doctors were said to have been illegally recruited in the Ibadan Teaching Hospital, while the Calabar Teaching Hospital carried illegal recruitment of over 100 doctors out of the 500 health workers.
The source also said that these illegally recruited doctors and health workers formed the majority of those that the NARD leadership are demanding that government should be paid before they can end their strike.
“These CMDs went ahead to recruit new doctors and other health workers without relevant approvals and ignoring the federal character principles.
“They went further to snuggle their names into the (GIFIMS) salary payment platform.
“Teaching Hospital, Ibadan recruited over 950 health workers without a waiver from the office of the Head of Service, without a certificate of finance and manpower compliance from the Budget Office of the Federation and without compliance with the federal character principle.
“These illegally recruited doctors and health workers were among those that NARD is demanding that federal government must pay salaries.
“This amounts to arm twisting of the government and cover-up of the fraudulent act and it will not happen.
“Federal government in its magnanimity despite the ongoing strike has decided to pay these illegally recruited doctors and health workers by asking the Head of Service of the Federation to approve a waiver for the affected doctors to be recruited formally into full employment.
“The Budget Office of the Federation is now working to capture them into the budget to be paid through the service-wide vote.”