LIKE CROSS RIVER STATE, LIKE UCTH: A Threshold of Scam and Sundry Falsifications

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Daniel Agbor|30 November 2016 The UCTH have been in the spotlight for sometimes now but all these while always for the wrong reasons. If it not internally generated, it will be external but always on questionable issues. As such it is no longer news or new to see UCTH on pages of the paper or the social media involved in one scandal or the other. For some, it is the usual retinue while others see this as battering image that does not befit an institution of such magnitude. Recently, the institution was basked in scandal involving embezzlement, accusation and counter accusation involving top ranking officers in the hospital. Some of these issues bothered on payment of half salaries, non payment of salaries, arrears other benefits accruable to staff in the institution. Amidst these were the over rated and inflated medical charges staff of the institution were asked to pay for even for things that were subsidized for them or already paid for. The CMD according to information have resorted to sending text messages to staff whenever an issue crops up. But this has not better the situation as rumours are strewn on the excesses of the CMD. He is noted for his unwarranted empathy and face saving antics of trying to rally support. It is no longer news that the EFCC had stormed the institution on issue bothering on overinflated projects for the purchase of two vehicles. An ambulance and a coaster bus for the hospital. According to the report, the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren explained that the two vehicles were purchased at an outrageously high price. According to him, “the vehicles, a Coastal Bus was purchased for N49 million while the one Toyota Hiace Ambulance was purchased for N62 million.” The two contractors, Emmanuel Etta Nkin, who is the promoter of Basemark Construction Company Ltd and Anthony Okocha, promoter of Messrs Anchor Industrial Nigeria Ltd were arrested by operatives of the Commission following a petition by the Bureau of Public Procurement that the purchase of the vehicles did not follow due process.
Though the contract for the purchase of the vehicles were advertised by the Teaching Hospital, and several contractors bided for the contract, investigation by the Commission reveals that Basemark Construction Company Limited and Anchor Industrial Nigeria Limited were the least qualified for the contract. "For instance, Basemark Construction Company Limited had no evidence of Registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission submitted for the bid process. “Criously, the two companies which submitted the highest bid of N62 million and N49 million got the contract ahead of other bidders with lesser amount.” Uwujaren stated. Upon interrogation, Etta Nkin admitted that the Ambulance was purchased at the cost of N9 million and that he has been paid N59 million so far leaving a balance of N3 million. Also, Anthony Okocha admitted that he purchased the Coastal Bus for N15 million and that he has been paid N24 million so far. EFCC findings from the place of purchase of the vehicles shows that the Toyota Ambulance was purchased for N8.5 million while the Coastal Bus goes for N13 million . Evidences at the disposal of the Commission shows that some high level management officers Teaching Hospital may have compromised their position and would be questioned by the Commission soon the report submitted. No sooner had the news hit the cyber space and news stand that the CMD in his usual and characteristics manner made good his text messaging abilities. My attention has been drawn to d visit by EFCC operatives 2 d hospital 4 an investigatn & d insinuations goin round d hosp. Be reminded that this isn't d first investigatn by operatives of EFCC in UCTH. Mgt knows those workin behind d scene. They will b reqd 2 make statements 2 EFCC operatives on what they know about d alleged comprise. I appeal 2 everyone 2 b careful of their utterances & do their assigned job description. Thanks 4 ur understanding. CMD Two possibilities can be drawn from this text message sending mission by the CMD.  One, the fear factor. Fear of the unknown. Secondly, he was just doing his statutory responsibility. Hmmmm, CMD, if I know the meaning very well to be Chief Medical Director all of a sudden becoming Director of Admin or Information Officer. This is not one of the duties of a CMD for God sake. But wait, why is the CMD so fast to conclude that management knows those working behind the scene. Working behind the scene how? To unravel the various scandals, suppress information, continue the scandal or what? The ambiguity in the SMS is more than what the eyes can see. This is to say the least as the pension scheme is yet another area in question in UCTH. INFORMATION HAS IT THAT PENSION OF STAFF EMPLOYED SINCE 2011 BACK DATED FROM JUNE BEFORE THE ADVENT OF IPPIS HAVE NOT BEEN REMITTED TO THE PENSION ADMINISTRATORS PFAs. More so, the introduction of IPPIS (Integrated personnel payroll and Information System) otherwise known as the e-payment is yet another milestone but a situation that is sine die. This is because staff monthly Pension have not been remitted to the respective Pension Administrators by Management. This is happening under the watchful eyes of the CMD yet this is the person rumour to have many Estates in Calabar and its environs. Only time will tell of the tales that is to happen. Daniel Agbor
Writes from Calabar