To say that nepotism, discrimination, unfairness, bigotry should not be condoned, especially in the Federal Civil Service is to restate the obvious. Showing favouritism or discriminating against a set of workers regardless of merit or when an employee is treated rather differently from other employees on grounds not supported by contract or are not in conformity with the laws, such workers are said to have been discriminated against.
Employment discrimination law refers to federal and state legislations that prohibit employers from treating workers differently based on certain attributes unrelated to job performance.
It is worthy to note that discrimination against government employers violates constitutional provisions which guarantee equal protection and due process in dealing with all workers.
Interestingly it is not all classifications of workers qualify for protection against discrimination in the workplace. In Nigeria for instance, sex, ethnicity, place of origin, religion, trade union membership and political opinion are mostly grounds upon which workers are discriminated.
The International Labor Organisation, ILO, regards the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation as a fundamental principle which all member states are obliged to respect.
Irrespective of the fact that Nigeria has ratified the ILO, Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958, it is no longer news that Nigerian law has not been able to do much in protecting workers against discrimination considering the fact that there are very few anti-discrimination laws in the country.
In section 42 of the Nigerian Constitution there is an anti-discrimination clause which provides that “a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place, or origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person be subjected either expressly by or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government to disabilities, or restriction to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject.”
Section 42(2) provides that “no citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth”
Similarly, section 17 of the Constitution states that: “the state social order is founded on the ideals of freedom, equality and justice.” It goes on to provide that every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.
Regrettably the letters and fundamental provisions of the Nigerian laws, especially the Constitution as well as international statutes entered into by Nigeria are been violated and not adhered to by various government institutions and agencies . For instance, there are noticeable infractions against simple labour provisions at the federal neuropsychiatric hospital, Calabar, Cross River State, where it is reported that non-indigenes working in the hospital are being discriminated against. This development no doubt also violates the principle of Federal Character, which provides equal opportunities and a level playing field for all Nigerians, irrespective of their religion, tribe, and political leanings. It also breeds a high level of nepotism in the work environment. Bad as it is, and if this is anything to go by, it makes a mince meat and a caricature of Cross River state’s slogan, which is: ‘The People’s Paradise’?
According to reports gathered by Nigerian Pilot, the discrimination is often characterized by cruelty, open injustice, public assault which usually leave the victims with no option other than to suffer physical, emotional pains and great loss, since as public servants the workers are limited in seeking legal redress.
Checks by this paper and as corroborated by an insider who craved anonymity, however, noted with dismay the pains these Nigerians go through and in extreme cases that unfounded allegations which are carried out through unsubstantiated petitions are written by an undertaker, a sect and an unregistered negative political front known as the Calabar People Movement. This sect is normally used by the powers that be in the State to perpetuate the illegal act.
According to the source, the said phantom group which can be better described as a sect has been operating in the establishment as an underground body for over years now with sectional interest/programs packaged against national policies of impacting the grassroots and uniting the people.
While describing the group’s unique characteristics and network of membership, the source said that “the group is a sect with political ambition to always control and influence the Federal Government allocations to the hospital, strive to ensure that such allocations are circulated among the caucus members without imparting the grassroots.
“The membership is selected and restricted to only Cross-Riverian who are either in active service or retired but possesses serious interest in power control ideal as well as have a common interest in looting public funds. Their accountability to the public is also mere paper work without transparency.
“They function as petition writers against non-indigenes stepping into any sensitive position that has connection to hospital Account signatory until the person is frustrated out of office.
“Unfortunately their actions and political parties are secret and behind the masses and in most cases use administrative secrecy as a strategy to weaken and exploit the people’s right.
“They report administrative issues against non-indigenes to the Obong Council of Calabar as Royal father, where such issues are being handled without fair hearing.”
The source also revealed that some of their members are on Federal government payroll of the hospital without having any schedule of work, but rather act as a spy in the establishment to submit regular reports in their meetings.
“Their member’s highest level of work commitment is signing of time book and they are above discipline whereas the main work force of the hospital is left on the shoulders of non indigenes.
“Unfortunately for us the present Head of Service of the Federation (Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita) has just been recognized as a patron of the group as a daughter of the soil.
“Currently, all the members of the top management committee are all members of this group except our member and they want her out for easy misappropriation of public funds throughout their tenure.
Narrating the ugly accounts of cruelty, brutality and frustration melted out on non-indigenes for the past years, Nigerian Pilot was reliably informed that the said group wrote petitions and resisted the appointment of a non-indigene as a Medical Director in 1995 when the Federal government took over even when there was no Cross Riverian fit to take over the position at that time.
The source recalled that until 1998 when the state could not present an indigene as a Consultant Psychiatrist that the Federal Ministry of Health released Dr. Michael Ekpo of blessed memory as the pioneer Medical Director for the hospital.
Between 1998-2006, Dr. Ekpo (from Akwa Ibom State) took over and worked to mentor indigenes and graduated them as Consultant Psychiatrists. Unfortunately, he later had an ill-health challenge which took his life.
He also said that Dr. Sunday Babatunde Timothy from Ekiti State (2006-2011) who by seniority (rank) took over sustained numerous physical and psychological trauma from this same group.
“He was assaulted both in National daillies as well as made to face panel of the State House of Assembly. Finally he was frustrated and forced out of office as a criminal with compulsory retirement from service to pave way for an indigene to take over.
“Similarly between 2000-2010, an Assistant Director of Finance, Mr N.C. Oti, (Abia State) who was posted by the Federal Government to head the Accounts department in order to correct the accounting system to meet the Federal Government Financial Regulations Standard was subjected to going through ordeals of public assaults by security agencies such as State Security Service, SSS.
“The highest ordeal he had to face was the litigation by Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, for over six years in both High Court and Appeal Court where his innocence was finally proven after much emotional and financial distress as a retiree.”
Nigerian Pilot was dependably informed that this same group is back on their toes to perpetuate the act which they specialize on, to uproot once again as usual from a post earned through merit and hard work as required by public service rules the current Acting Head of Administration, Mrs Arit Uweh from Akwa Ibom State who was appointed by the last Psychiatric Management Board of the hospital after going through the resume of all the most senior administrative staff in the hospital.
We further gathered that the game plan is to replace Mrs Arit Uweh, a skilful and seasoned administrator known in the system as dynamic with outstanding records, the only member of the top management committee that is not an indigene with the current Head of Personnel of the Hospital, Mrs Ekanem Davis who is also the Secretary to the Calabar People Movement.
From our investigation, we were informed by some workers in the hospital that Mrs Arit Uweh who has been in acting capacity for 2 years now has since brought innovations into the system which the masses are very impressed and challenged though the management are not comfortable with the level of transparency. Thus for fear of unknown they have decided to use political strategy of placing the post for public contest to remove her.
“We are not aware of any act of incompetency or misconduct against her for these two years on acting capacity that would have warranted the refusal for confirmation as substantive head. We believe that as usual the management only needed to use to effect another restructuring of the administration department and there after dump her.
“She is already at the highest rank for the post (Assistant Director of Administration) for two years now we wonder why a non vacant post should be placed for public contest.”
The workers mostly non-indigenes expressed displeasure on the suddenly developed interest by the Federal Ministry of Health to single out the Office of Head of Administration of the Hospital for public advert saying “we are aware that there had been issues surrounding the renewal of 2nd tenure to the Medical Directorship over two years ago due to his poor performance assessment at the end of his first tenure by the Ministry and yet the seat has not been declared for public advert.
“Similarly, the Office of the Head of Clinical Service/Chairman Medical Advisory Committee had not been relinquished for over six years now against the standing order of two yearly rotation policy among consultants as applicable to every other Tertiary Health Institutions in Nigeria, as a result of fear of being exposed of fraudulent acts, it has been under a cover by one man as a member of the Group.
“I the same vain the personal data base of the hospital available with the Ministry clearly present the Head of Accounts Department (Assistant Chief Accountant) as not being the most qualified and most senior accountant in the hospital, yet the office as sensitive as that could be allowed to be occupied without public advertisement even when the predecessor to that office retired at the rank of an Assistant Director of Finance over five years ago. Even then, none of these offices have been considered by the Federal Ministry of Health for public Advertisement.
“Therefore, there is no transparency and fairness in the part of the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health to grant this approval.
“We are aware of more ploys to make life uncomfortable for us and every other Cross Riverians that sympathize on our predicament within and outside the hospital, if their ambition and request is not granted at the end of the exercise.
“We keep wondering if this how we react and treat their sons and daughters who are working and feeling at home and progressing to the peak of their career in different states.”

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