Delta State Commissioner for Health, Mordi Ononye, and the state chairman, Hospitals Management Board (HMB), Austin Obidi, have been accused of hijacking the recruitment of 40 pharmacists by the board to favour only people from the Delta North senatorial district of the state.
The scandal is currently rocking the recruitment exercise which some health and government officials from other senatorial districts in the state have described as pure bias and nepotism.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had in September 2020 approved for the employment of 40 pharmacists to bridge the manpower deficiency of pharmaceutical personnel in government hospitals across the state.
According to him, 39 out of 64 government hospitals in the state have no pharmacists.
He said the development was not healthy to health care policies and the programmes of his administration.
Condemning the way the employment was done, a top management staff member of the state Hospitals Management Board, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being sanctioned, said the whole exercise was carried out fraudulently as Delta North district was allegedly mainly favoured.
"You know the governor, Okowa, the state Commissioner for Health, Ononye, and the HMB chairman, chairman, Obidi, who also doubles as a special adviser to the governor, are from Delta North senatorial district. The entire recruitment exercise was politicised and they favoured their people more, including some who could not meet up the examination requirements for the employment.
"This is the same nepotism we are crucifying President Muhammadu Buhari for. They were busy calling their girlfriends, lovers, and cronies to come to pick up their letters of employment when they never took the examination. The selection examination was held on Saturday, December 5, 2020. But some top management of the board, aided by the state Commissioner for Health and the board chairman, jettisoned the release of the results and allocated nearly all the positions to their Delta North people."
Also speaking against the employment, an applicant who simply gave her name as Elizabeth, expressed displeasure over the exercise.
She said after the examination, she was not shown her scores, "only to hear that those who did not even take the examination are being called on to come and pick up their employment letters just because they are from Delta North.
They alleged that "in order for people not to see that the whole exercise was one-sided, the governor reluctantly gave three slots to the Delta Central".
"Even some of the persons given employment are still in school. They were just called to come and pick up their employment letters because those in charge are their kinsmen," Elizabeth said.
“It would have been better if the state government had quietly done the recruitment in secrecy just as it has done in other ministries without coming to the public to make us believe that they were going to provide a level playing ground for all applicants. The nepotism is too high, this is bad and must be condemned in its entirety."
Our correspondent gathered that the three slots given to the Delta Central were given to two Urhobo leaders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who in turn gave out the slots to their girlfriends’ relations in Delta North and South senatorial districts.
An impeccable source familiar with the issue confided in our correspondent that “After the governor has given the three slots to the two Urhobo chiefs, one of the chiefs gave his girlfriend’s brother from Delta North his own slot. The second chief gave his slot to his girlfriend who is an Ijaw while the third Chief gave his slot to his own cousin; this was how the three slots the governor reluctantly gave to the central were shared.
"This is very shameful, after everything, the HBM will come out and begin to tell Deltans that the exercise was credibly done when in the real sense of it, it was employment done for only the Delta North people. I challenge the state government and the board to be bold enough and publish all the names of those who were given the employment."
All calls and messages sent to the state Commissioner for Health, Ononye, were not responded to but the Special Adviser to the governor and state chairman, Hospitals Management Board (HMB), Austin Obidi, debunked all the allegations saying there was no iota of truth in them.
"There is no iota of truth in the whole allegations. The interest of the three senatorial districts was represented. We are expecting more than 20 pharmacists to be employed. Very soon the governor will give approval for employment in the health sector and those who could not make it in the pharmacy employment, as well as other districts, will be considered as well," Obidi said.
When asked if he could make available the list of the 40 pharmacists that were employed to clear doubts, Obidi, vehemently refused.