Applicants were ‘recommended by presidency, politicians’
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• New UNILAG students to face similar medical examination
The hope of about 30 graduates to gain jobs at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Kano, has been dashed after they failed a mandatory drug test.
The prospective employees who emerged from thousands of applicants had successfully fulfilled various requirements and had been shortlisted until their samples turned up positive.
It was learnt that the affected, predominantly youths, were dropped from a 150-strong list projected to fill manpower shortage at the only Federal Government-owned orthopaedic hospital in the entire northern region.
A reliable management source at the hospital confirmed the development, adding that some of the applicants had the recommendation of persons at the presidency, top political appointees, high-ranking members of the Federal Character Commission and senior staff of the hospital.
Abubakar Yakubu (not real name) who failed the test however accused the management of deliberate attempt to trim the shortlisted candidates.
“How can they refuse to give us letters of appointment after we have been shortlisted. It is not fair, to say the least. We were not even told any tests, like drug and others, would be conducted. They just asked us to submit our urine samples and the next thing they said was, ‘No job again,’” he said.
But asked whether he took any substance that affected a person’s mental state, Abubakar replied angrily: “I wonder why anybody would be interested in my personal affairs. How should that determine my job opportunity? Even if I am taking drugs, is it not my personal matter? How is that the business of anybody? We need this job and they cannot claim we are not qualified. So, they should, please, give us the job.”
Another candidate, who spoke to The Guardian on phone from Katsina, said: “I also failed the test after paying a required N2,500 bill. I was informed, few weeks, ago that our names had been shortlisted. After my credentials were screened, they asked us to do a urine test. Unknown to many of us, it was a drug test. Unfortunately, I failed. I want to appeal to the Federal Government to, please, intervene. We need the job. We are tired of being in the labour market.”
Reacting, director of administration at the hospital, Alhaji Audu Ibrahim, insisted only 20 applicants were rejected. He explained that while 15 failed the test outright, five others were placed on probation.
He disclosed that the hospital adopted the measure to prevent recurrence of a drug-related problem in its workforce, adding that the management was still struggling to cope with five members of staff who had already become psychiatric patients.
“The management took the decision to conduct the drug and other medical tests to prevent some ugly experiences in the hospital. Drug test is the most pertinent and we take it very critically. But let me put it straight, they are 20 not 30.
“It is the standard in civil service and the tests were not on drugs alone. The procedure is that when you fail the drug test, you don’t even need to go for the rest, that is HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes and others. We are doing this to reduce the liability we already have. We don’t want to add to it.
“15 were entirely positive and five were placed on probation because the outcome of the test showed suspicion, and we know some conditions could warrant that, especially in medical circumstances. So, we allowed them to start work on probation for six months, after which another test would be conducted.”
He said the management was considering a refund of the N2,500 paid by the applicants.
Meanwhile, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) has announced it “shall withdraw the admission of newly admitted students that test positive for drug use whenever the university conducts the test, either before or after registration”.
The institution made this known on its portal, saying it was part of requirements for admission in the 2017/2018 session.