By Ismaeel Uthman
OSUN State University Teaching Hospital (UNIOSUNTH), formerly known as Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, is in the eye of the storm, following the discovery of a reported ‘il.imate’ payment of Overtime Allowances to some selected staff members of the hospital.
The overtime allowance, according to sources in the Ministry of Finance and UNIOSUNTH, had been cancelled since 2016 by the State Government, during the regime of the hospital’s existence as Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTECHTH).
But some workers of the UNIOSUNTH allegedly manipulated the government and continued to collect the overtime allowances till it was discovered in March this year.
Findings by Bioreports revealed that some workers in the office of the Chief Medical Director and others in Accounts, Audit, Environment, Store were beneficiaries of the overtime payment.
It was gathered that the Overtime allowances were always prepared with monthly salaries of the workers, against the established practice that it should be paid based on the hours spent by each of the workers on the extra time spent at work.
Sources in the UNIOSUNTH confided in the medium that some of senior staff members, who are not entitled to the overtime allowances were also benefiting from it.
Investigations revealed that a consultancy firm, Chams, engaged by the government for automated salary payment of the state’s workers, discovered the anomalies while screening the UNIOSUNTH’s salary in March.
According to sources, the overtime allowances payment gulped over N4million monthly.
It was said that the overtime allowances became regularised in 2017 for the beneficiaries as they collected it with their salaries.
The medium gathered that the Auditor-General of the state, Mr. Folorunsho Adesina, has issued a query to the Chief Medical Director of the UNIOSUNTH, Prof. Peter Olaitan, to explain why and how it was possible for the workers to manipulate the hospital to fix and be collecting the overtime allowances years after it had been stopped.
The query, according to the sources, was issued on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
One of the sources said: “There is controversy over payment of overtime allowance to some people here (UNIOSUN-TH). What we knew was that payment of overtime had been stopped by the government in 2016, due to the poor financial status of the state.
“We did not know some people were collecting it until it was discovered in March this year. How the beneficiaries of the overtime allowance were able to continue collecting the money till 2021 is what we don’t know. We heard it was Chams that discovered the matter.”
Another source said: “The overtime allowances issue is what could be described as ‘top secret’, because even now, after the fraud has been discovered, the people involved are still covering the matter. They don’t want us to know. But there is nothing like secret in a public workplace.
“It is true that the State Government directed that payment of overtime allowances be stopped in 2016, and this people continued to pay themselves up till 2021 before Chams discovered it. I think it is a caucus matter. You could only have benefitted if you belong to the caucus.
“When Chams discovered the il.imate payment of the overtime allowances in March, it came to the attention of the UNIOSUNTH Accountant, Mr. Banji Ajiteru, who reportedly stated that he did not know anything about it.
“The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance has also been informed and she categorically stated that overtime allowances had been stopped in 2016.”
“Overtime allowances are meant for junior workers but some people on levels 13, 14 and 15 were found to be collecting the allowances. Some workers that are on leave were even being paid overtime allowances. That is nothing but fraud.”
However, one of the beneficiaries of the overtime allowance, who prayed not to be named, stated that the allowances are .imate and deserving, just as he said it was never stopped by the government.
According to him, the beneficiaries of the allowance could not pay themselves, noting that a supervisor or a head of department in the UNIOSUNTH would only recommend a worker to be paid overtime allowance because of the nature of his (the worker’s) job.
He added that payment of the allowances is subject to the approval of the CMD, even as he stated that some of them were being underpaid.
The worker said: “There is nothing like fraud in the overtime allowances payment. It is .imate and those of us that are collecting the allowances deserve them.
“I need to establish a fact that as at the time the allowances were said to have been stopped, UNIOSUNTH was LAUTECHTH, which was enjoying autonomy.
“The fact that the Government of the State of Osun directed the stoppage of overtime allowances payment for the state workers does not mean it was binding on the LAUTECHTH, because we enjoyed autonomy and belonged to two states.
“Another issue is that some of us work on weekends, some others work till midnight in the hospital. Some spend extra hours at work because of the nature of our job. Is it fair to be collecting same salaries with the people that close by 4pm and do not work on weekends?
“Overtime allowances are just to compensate us for the extra hours and sacrifices we make on the job. That is a normal practice everywhere; it is even stipulated in our conditions of service.”
When contacted, the Chief Medical Director of UNIOSUNTH, Prof. Peter Olaitan said: “The true position of things is that I was not queried. The Office of the Auditor-General wanted to know what was happening on overtime allowances.
“When UNIOSUNTH was LAUTECHTH, owned by both Osun and Oyo states, overtime had always been what was being paid to some workers.
“But when the joint ownership was dissolved and UNIOSUNTH came into being, we were alerted that overtime payment had been stopped across the entire Osun Civil Service and that we should stop the payment, and we stopped in March.
“The argument is whatever affects the civil servants in the state should affect the UNIOSUNTH workers.”