Loss of Accreditation by ABSUTH: Abia Assembly Grills Commissioner, VC, Others

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Abia State House of Assembly Plenary for Wednesday, 22nd June, 2022

Welcome to another Legislative Day in the 7th Abia State House of Assembly.

The Speaker, Rt Hon Engr Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji led Principal Officers into the hallowed chamber.

Hon Jerry Uzosike, Member representing Umuahia South State Constituency led the opening prayer.

The Abia State House of Assembly commenced plenary after the adoption of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 21st June, 2022.

MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

Hon Godwin Adiele, Member representing Ukwa West brought up a Matter of Urgent Public Importance to the House decrying the unfortunate situation of the security situation in Ukwa West Local Government Area.

He said there are serious allegations that Fulani herdsmen have been marauding in the area, perpetrating all manner of atrocities in the locality.

Hon Adiele said some persons have lost their lives to the suspected herdsmen, the latest being that of a tipper truck driver who was murdered in a gruesome manner.

Hon Godwin Adiele therefore requested urgent steps be taken immediately to avert further attacks by the group.

PRAYERS

a. That government should set up a security committee in the area whose sole responsibility will be to monitor the roads, bushes and other areas prone to attacks

b. That government should assist the Executive Chairmen of Ukwa West Local Government Area by giving him a special security fund to enable him mobilize local vigilante, put other necessary logistics in place to avert further loss of lives in the area

b. That the government should provide financial support to the affected families

RESOLUTION

After contributions from Rt Hon Chikwendu Enyinnaya Kalu, Hon A.C. Thomas Nkoro, Hon Jerry Uzosike, Hon Kelechi Onuzuruike and Hon Emmanuel Ndubuisi, the Speaker thanked his colleagues for their contributions on the matter. He said the security situation in the country is quite worrisome and drastic measures need to be taken at all levels to address the issue immediately.

All the prayers of Hon Adiele on the matter were adopted while Clerk of the House, Sir JohnPedro Irokansi was requested to make necessary letters available to the relevant bodies in respect of the prayers adopted.

ORDER OF THE DAY

Summon of the following officials

  1. The State Commissioner for Health
  2. Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Uturu
  3. Chief Medical Director of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba
  4. Dean of College Of Medicine, ABSU
  5. Chairman of the Joint Action Committee of Medical Unions in Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba

In a motion moved by Hon A.C. Thomas Nkoro and seconded by Hon Aaron Uzodike, the House dissolved into quasi plenary.

The Sergeant-At-Arms ushered in the officials.

The Speaker, Rt Hon Engr Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji welcomed the Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji to the hallowed chamber.

The Speaker asked him what led to the withdrawal of the accreditation for the College of Medicine, Abia State University ( ABSU ), by the National Universities Commission, NUC.

The Commissioner responded by saying that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) came on a supervision tour of the institution and they were conducted round the facility but when they got to the medical school, the gate was under lock and key because the workers were on strike.

The Speaker then asked the Commissioner if he was telling the House that the medical school lost their accreditation because the medical school was not opened for the team. The Commissioner answered in the affirmative.

At that point, Rt Hon Chikwendu Kalu, asked the Commissioner to explain in details to the House why the school lost its accreditation and what could be done to remedy the situation.

Hon Kelechi Onuzuruike, Member representing Umuahia North State Constituency also asked the Commissioner why the workers of Hospital Management Board are owed backlog of salaries and if there was any functional General Hospital in the State, and the way forward.

Dr Osuji told the House that he wasn’t duly informed the day the team came on the visit, he emphasised that the attitude of the workers in various General Hospitals in the state has made the hospitals to perform below expectations.

The Speaker then asked if the Hospital Management Board generates revenue, and if yes, where are the funds channeled to?

The Commissioner said he was not fully aware of the revenue generated by the Board because the constituted Boards of the hospitals made it difficult for his ministry to access their financial activities. He also said in some cases, the institutions remit little or nothing to the state coffers at the end of each month.

The Speaker told the Commissioner that he allowed money to be spent by the institutions without appropriation under his watch, saying it was a very huge blunder.

Hon Stanley Nwabuisi said the Commissioner should be invited to plenary another day so the House could further drill him appropriately saying that there seems to be a whole lot going on behind the scenes at the Hospital Management Board (HMB).

At this point, the Speaker asked the Vice Chancellor of Abia State University Uturu, Professor Onyebuchi Maxwell Ogbulu to come forward and interact with them.

The Speaker welcomed him to the chamber and said by the virtue of the position of the Commissioner for Health, he ought to be in the know the day the team from the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) visited. He then asked the VC why the Commissioner was put in the dark about the visit.

Responding, the VC said it was not a practice to invite the Commissioner for Health during the visits of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC).

But the Speaker argued that the Commissioner is the head of all medical institutions in the State and the eye of the Executive in all health matters. He further said that the Commissioner would have related to his boss, the Governor, to put necessary requirements in place before the team visited and that things could have been more efficiently handled if he was informed.

The VC reiterated that the loss of accreditation was because the gate of the medical school was under lock and key when the team visited due to the strike action embarked upon by the workers even after two months salaries were released to them.

The Speaker maintained that he was not fully convinced that the team cancelled the accreditation of the medical school just because workers were on strike.

He asked the VC if the accreditation would still have been withdrawn by the NUC if necessary provisions in terms of ensuring that the departments visited were in order but the workers were on strike as of the time of the visit?

The VC said every requirement was put in place prior to the visit of the team. He also said that the Governor even approved the payment of two months salary for the workers.

At that point, Rt Hon Chikwendu Kalu asked the VC to produce the report of the accreditation team where they wrote down the reasons why accreditation of the medical school was withdrawn.

After going through the document presented by the VC, the Speaker said there were several deficiencies in the report which indicted the medical school. He said the VC might have been economical with facts of the matter when he claimed that the NUC withdrew the accreditation just because the school was under lock and key.

Hon Emmanuel Ndubuisi, Member representing Bende South State Constituency said few years ago, an Ad Hoc committee set up by the House interfaced with officials of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, and that the officials expressed fears that the accreditation of the medical school might be withdrawn in no distant future.

Hon Ndubuisi said it was very disappointing that the fear which the team had then was allowed to come to fulfillment.

At that point the Speaker asked the Chief Medical Director of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Dr Offia Awa to step forward and interact with members of the House.

On taking the floor, the CMD explained to the House what transpired the day the NUC team visited, saying the loss of accreditation was because the team didn’t meet some medical staff on ground.

He further said that if government could maintain the monthly subvention due to the institution, the issue of salary payments would be a thing of the past.

The Speaker at that point announced that the House would continue to invite the officials till they get to the root cause of why the accreditation of the medical school was withdrawn.

In a motion moved by Hon A.C Thomas Nkoro and seconded by Hon Stanley Nwabuisi, the House reverted back to full plenary.

Reporting what transpired at the quasi-plenary, the Speaker said issues bordering on the loss of accreditation was deliberated upon extensively. He said Abia State University, Uturu has produced renowned medical personnel in the past and that the House would get to the root cause of why the medical school lost its accreditation.

The Speaker therefore said the House would continue the interaction with the other invited officials on Tuesday, 28th June, 2022 by 10am.

Other items on the Order Paper were deferred to be considered on another Legislative Day

ADJOURNMENT

Hon A.C. Thomas Nkoro, the Chief Whip of the House moved that plenary be adjourned to another Legislative Day.

Hon Godwin Adiele, Member representing Ukwa West State Constituency seconded the motion.

Plenary was therefore adjourned to Tuesday, 28th June, 2022

Courtesy: Media Unit, Office of the Rt Hon Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly.

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