Amid controversies over exceeding his tenure, Prof. Christopher Bode, the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, says his appointment is political and at the pleasure of the Presidency.
Bode, a renowned Paediatrician, made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, while reacting to allegations of exceeding the statutory retirement age.
NAN reports that the Nigerian Medical Association and other health unions had urged the Federal Government to enforce the public service rule on the tenure of CMD and Medical Directors in the nations’ tertiary hospitals.
It was also reported that the CMD of LUTH was affected by the statutory age of retirement.
Bode said he was a political appointee from the Federal Ministry of Health, which was at the pleasure of the Presidency.
He said: “I have read the stories flying about in the newspapers where some people are clamouring that I have passed my statutory age of retirement.
“I see this as a mere distraction.
“What we have on ground is more than this.
“We have a lot of work to do.
“We need to salvage this hospital, engage in projects that will improve our healthcare delivery and many more.
“Where were these people when there was a strike in this hospital, when things were not working?
“They were not there then.
“Why now when we are experiencing some form of stability?
“What should be the concern of everybody is how to fix the problems and challenges of this hospital and I have the support of all the staff in achieving this.”
On the statutory age of retirement as claimed by the unions, Bode said he had four major points to drive his case home.
He said: “I have four points to address this issue, which are one: I am a professor who has the privilege of not retiring at 60 years as claimed by the union.
“Second is that I am on a leave of absence from my university as others who are honorary consultant to the teaching hospital, and the third is that my appointment has tenure of service.
“The fourth is that I want to focus on the development of the hospital rather than concentrate on distractions, which I think is a market noise.”
Explaining further, Bode said there were several inferences he could dwell on to make the public understand the issues surrounding the CMD’s tenure, vis-à-vis what is obtainable in other climes.
He said: “The first is about Prof. Attaihiru Jega, who was appointed the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and who was over 60 years but was appointed because his appointment was political.
“To get it right, can we then say because he was appointed to head INEC, he becomes a civil servant?
“The answer is no.
“When Jega finished with his tenure, he went back to his university.
“On the issue of being a consultant, there are two types of consultants: the honourary consultants that are appointed from universities to perform clinical duties, which does not carry 60 years retirement.
“The other is the career consultants who are the ones on the cadre of civil servants and are expected to retire at the age of 60.
“I am on a leave of absence from University of Lagos where I was working before and when I took up this appointment my salary was put on hold.
“Professors don’t retire at the age of 60 as claimed and it is wrong to say because a professor who took political appointment at the helm civil service should retire at 60.
“We are not fighting ourselves here in this hospital and I can confidently say that I am enjoying the support of all the staff.”
Bode said his vision for the hospital was to move it to a new height and improve on its standards.
He said: “I want to improve on the operation of this hospital with many projects on ground now.
“We are replacing the old beds in the wards and working on how to salvage this hospital.
“In this day of dwindling resources and a lot of increasing demands, we want to harness our energy towards achieving an operating system that workers will have something to work with.
“We want to create a seamless service whereby our patients get qualitative healthcare which will stamp out medical tourism.
“We don’t want to give our patients referrals abroad for treatment of diseases we can confidently handle here.
“I want the media to do investigative journalism to ascertain my claims.”