FMC Owerri crisis: FG reinstates MD, warns staff to accept decision or resign

Dr Angela Uwakwem, FMC Medical Director, Owerri, Imo State.

Following the prolonged crisis that rocked the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri to its foundation and crippled service delivery for about two years, the Federal Government has finally reinstated the management team, led by the Medical Director, Dr. Angela Uwakwem.

The Federal Government has ordered that Dr. (Mrs.) Uwakwem and his management team to resume their functions immediately and shall be supported by a team from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) Abuja.

To this end, the government has warned all staff members of the FMC, Owerri to abide by the decision and support the substantive medical director and her management, or resign, if they cannot obey the directive.

“All staff members of FMC Owerri are thus urged to cooperate with the management and abide by the law. Any person unable to accept this decision is free, and indeed encouraged, to tender their resignation or apply for retirement,” a statement signed by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said.

He added: “No individual or group should attempt to hold a public institution hostage or cripple essential services on account of their own personal grievance. There must be no hindrance of access to, or movement within the facility. Acts of intimidation of staff willing to work will draw consequences. Unruly behaviour shall be squarely.”

Dr. Ehanire said the tenure of the Interim Management Team (IMT) put in place to oversee the administration of the Centre after the Medical director, accused of  financial mismanagement and highhandedness by the workers and their staff unions; after which they went on strike and demanded her removal from office.

After the investigation, however, the government said nothing was found against the medical director, despite the insistence of the trade unions.

The minister said: “The Interim Management Team (IMT), inaugurated on 4th January, 2016, has completed its assignment and submitted its report and recommendations, which the Ministry needed to analyse in detail: hence the delay in taking these conclusive steps. Having now outlived its mandate in July 2016, the IMT is hereby forthwith dissolved, to make room for a final lasting solution. The Ministry is grateful for their service.

“After due consultation with stakeholders and relevant authorities, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has decided that the substantive management of Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, led by Dr. (Mrs.) Uwakwem, shall resume its functions immediately and shall be supported by a team from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) Abuja.

“It is important to note that Dr. (Mrs.) Uwakwem, like all medical directors, is a presidential appointee. The due process that was followed in her appointment must also be followed, should there be a case for termination. Should evidence of misconduct be found against her, Dr. Uwakwem will answer for it and face the law. No person shall be protected from justice.

“Since Dr. Uwakwem’s 4 year tenure is valid until 2017 and no evidence of misconduct against her was raised by a ministerial fact finding commission, the Ministry desires rule of law to prevail over mob action. ”

The minister pointed out that the goal of the Federal Ministry of Health is to restore peace, harmony and lawful governance in order for full service to be rendered to the people and for development to come to FMC Owerri.

All staff are, therefore, enjoined to put acrimony aside and work together; while  citizens of Imo State were asked to contribute to peace building at FMC Owerri.

The minister also urged the medical director to embrace peace and work towards efficient service delivery.

He added: “Following the administrative baton change, the Interim Management Team is hereby directed to conduct the technical handover to the Medical Director and substantive management in FMC Owerri premises, in the presence of an Assessor Team from the Federal Ministry of Health to oversee the process. Additionally, a management Support Team is to be deployed from the FMoH to assist in settling in, within the shortest time.”