President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Ikpeme Ikpeme as the new Chief Medical Director (CMD) for the troubled University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Cross River State.
According to a press statement by the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Health, Boade Akinola, Mr Ikpeme’s appointment will take effect from April 16.
Before his appointment, Mr Ikpeme, a professor and orthopaedic surgeon at UCTH, had tussled for the same position in 2010 but did not get it.
The position was given to the outgoing CMD, Thomas Agan, who is ending his eight years tenure in office
The appointment is coming after months of a tussle for the position by many contestants.
Prior to Mr Ikpeme’s appointment, there had been a clamour that the next CMD for the institution should be appointed from the central part of the state.
According to a report by Punch Newspapers, a forum, the Southern Senatorial District Forum in Cross River had said the next CMD for the institution should come from the central part of the state.
The forum had made the call following the submission of the names of successful interviewees for the job to the presidency.
The president of the forum, Peter Duke, had wanted the presidency to consider another candidate, Edet Ikpi, from Cross River Central, for the position.
He explained that the southern senatorial district had held the position for 17 years while the central and northern district had held the position for eight years respectively.
However, based on the latest appointment, the presidency apparently settled for Mr Ikpeme, who is reportedly from the southern part of the state.
UCTH is one of the second generation tertiary hospitals. It was built to serve Cross River State and its environs and train medical doctors and paramedics for the country.
Unfortunately, the institution has been steeped in controversy and power tussle over the years.
This has affected the workforce with the hospital currently shut due to doctors’ strike.
The newly appointed CMD will be expected to find a lasting solution to the troubled institution.
As at Tuesday, when Mr Ikpeme was receiving his appointment letter, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), UCTH chapter, joined the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) to embark on indefinite strike.
The associations went on strike over the failure of the management to meet their demands.
The ARD in Calabar has been on strike for the past 23 days. The resident doctors had on March 18 embarked on strike to demand their 2014, 2016 arrears.
The hospital, in the last few years, has experienced strikes from various unions that have grounded activities.
Guardian newspaper also reported on Tuesday that the MDCAN, which was operating skeletal services in the hospital, also resumed its pending industrial action, blaming it on the management’s refusal to respond.
The MDCAN chairman, Usang Usang, and its secretary, Henry Okpa, accused the management of diverting money meant for their welfare.
Meanwhile, the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) has applauded the appointment.
The president of the association, John Imoke, reacting to the news said his appointment is ”an agreeable choice as he is well known within the institution and association.”
Mr Imoke said with the appointment, ”there is a light behind (sic) the tunnel.”
He expressed optimism that Mr Ikpeme will be able to tackle most of the challenges facing the health institution.
He said, with time, the UCTH will be able to operate normally.
“The new CMD is well known to us. He was a former president of the ARD among others. He is a friend of the association and we are happy because we expect a lot of good things to be done,” he said.
Mr Imoke, however, said he cannot specifically say when the ARD would be calling off its strike.
He said the issues at stake have to do with the welfare and security of the staff.
“The decision on when to call off strike is not mine to make, but we should any time soon. There is a procedure to calling off the strike. If the discussions are favourable why not. Every doctor wants to go back to work because of our patients and training.
“The workers’ security has been in shambles. Our training has suffered because of lack of accreditation, our laboratories are not functioning as they should, there are challenges here and there, and it has affected the standard of our institution,” he said.
Congratulating Mr Ikpeme on his new appointment, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, reminded him of the enormous tasks ahead.
Mr Adewole advised Mr Ikpeme to focus more on effective service delivery ”in order to build public trust in the health sector.”
He advised the new CMD to justify the confidence reposed in him by the president.
He also urged him to work with all stakeholders to ensure industrial harmony in the health sector.