Akwa Ibom State Government has sacked its Epidemiologist, Dr. Aniekeme Uwah, following an alleged misunderstanding regarding the number of COVID-19 test samples with the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong.
Information before #IbomTelegraph has it that Dr. Uwah was relieved of his position for allegedly taking samples from suspected COVID-19 persons without the approval of the Commissioner of Health.
Akwa Ibom State has recorded 11 COVID-19 cases, 3 have been discharged, 1 has died and 7 are actively being managed at the Ibom Multi-Specialty Hospital (ISH).
As at Monday, April 20, only 53 samples were sent to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for the COVID-19 test. There were rumors that the low number of tests conducted was due to the alleged interference by the Commissioner for Health.
#IbomTelegraph source said that permission had to be taken from Dr. Ukpong, the Health Commissioner before samples from suspected COVID-19 cases were taken and sent to NCDC for testing.
Dr. Uwah is alleged to have defied the State Commissioner for Health by insisting that anybody that meets the criteria for COVID-19 testing would be attended to.
The source said, “He [Dr. Uwah] was told to take not more than 10 samples irrespective of the huge number available. He insisted he will review the forms and take samples from all those who met the criteria. Besides, he informed the Commissioner that he couldn’t refuse to take samples from Doctors who are qualified for the test, and for which the State has the sample kits.”
“He further told the Commissioner that it will cost the government not even an extra penny to take these samples. That is how Uwah ended up taking samples from 31 persons who met the criteria. And the Commissioner is not happy about it, that’s why he engineered his (Uwah) sack,” the source explained.
Another source named Bassey also corroborated what the first source told our reporter, saying “Yesterday, I learned Dr. Uwah had supervised over 30 samples sent for COVID-19 tests, a step that obviously angered the Commissioner for health who wanted not more than 10 to be sent. Dr. Aniekeme Uwah has tried for this state. His dedication, work ethics, and competence in service delivery are not in doubt. Let it be known that the government can only sack him from office, but they can’t erase the humane contributions he’s made for Akwa Ibom indigenes, they’re epitomized in our minds.”
Reacting to the incident, the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Udoh, in a telephone conversation with a private radio station, confirmed the imbroglio but added that it was mere change of work position as permitted by the civil service rule.
Also reacting to the issue, two media aides to Governor Udom Emmanuel, Rev. Richard Peter and Essien Ndueso, took to the social media to explain to the public why Dr Uwah was sack.
According to them, “Yes, he has been sacked; I can confirm that to you. Dr. Uwah was sacked for allegedly insulting the Governor.”