Kenneth Madiebo has cried out for owing salary more than four years after he prepared the corpse of Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, the first reported case of Ebola in Nigeria, for cremation.
Madiebo reveals in a chat with an online new platform, theCable, how he has been abandoned by relevant authorities after he put his own life at stake to perform national duty.
In 2014, when the deadliest outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) broke out, more than 3,800 people lost their lives in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.
This was a dark time in the continent and Nigeria wasn’t spared as Sawyer, the first Ebola patient landed on the Nigeria soil.
It was with the help of a team of doctors led by Adadevoh, and government proactiveness that Nigeria was able to scale the epidemic, three months later.
According to Madiebo, who was assigned with the role of cremating Sawyer’s corpse, says he has been practically begging just to be paid his salaries and been described as a troublemaker for demanding his dues.
“Naturally, like everyone else, I was very scared, but the fact remained that the body had to be evacuated. I am told that he died around 7:30 am and he was evacuated to Yaba Mainland Hospital at about 11:30 pm of the same day,” he told TheCable.
“Also, we underwent a quick training on the wearing and removal of the personal protective equipment (PPE) and so I worked with a group of about six individuals who came from a private undertakers’ company.”
He notes how he led the group that evacuated Sawyer from the First Foundation Hospital in Obalende, Lagos and how he was assigned a new role after the task was complete.
“After the assignment, I was giving a new role: Incident Manager Ebola emergency operations centre (EOC). It was supposed to come with some form of increased remuneration but I have never received any other salaries since October of 2014, about four years and nine months now,” he said.
“People can be assigned new roles depending on the circumstances at hand. Between October 2012 and August 2013, I played the role of incident manager for the flood disaster in Nigeria. This was in collaboration with WHO and the USA CDC.
“But I and the rest of my colleagues who set up the NCDC have never been paid one kobo up till this day. We have also not been disengaged, despite the fact that we have asked the federal ministry of health (FMoH) to pay us our arrears and disengage us as consultants.
“We have written numerous letters pertaining to this. The letters were addressed to the minister in some instances, to the permanent secretary when no minister was on the seat and most times the letters were copied to relevant stakeholders.
“I also wrote the boss of USA CDC, the WHO secretary-general, UN secretary-general, the presidency, senate committee chairman for health and the former CEO of NCDC. Eventually, FMHoC created a committee to look into the matter. I only got a response from a director at the USA CDC and I believe it is the presidency that motivated the minister of health, Prof Isaac Adewole to set up the committee.
“The permanent secretary at the ministry replied the first letter I wrote in September 2015 to tell me that I was too low in the “levels of officialdom” to write to him pertaining to our unpaid salaries.”
For this, he and his colleagues had to drag the federal government to court but the case has dragged on slowly for years.
“The case is currently in court as we speak. The case has been in court since April of 2018. A couple of my colleagues who have dual citizenship have had to fly in from the UK and the USA to attend court,” he said.
“We had to restart proceedings because the former judge was transferred away around August/ September of 2018 The case is in court with three out of the seven consultants who helped to set up the NCDC seeking justice.
“We have no idea how long it will take but my own case has progressed to the address stage while that of two other consultants will go through hearing in October. The case was adjourned from the 13th of June till 30th of October.”