Health workers’ unions insist on minister’s sack
BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
ABUJA – WORKERS in the health sector have petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to relieve Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, of his appointment before May 1, 2013, claiming the continued stay of the minister could cause unprecedented crisis in the health sector.
Under the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, the workers said they had lined up series of industrial actions between now and May 1, to force President Jonathan to sack the minister if he failed to resign.
JOHESU, made up of five unions in health sector: the Medical and Health Workers Unions of Nigeria, MHWUN; the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, NANNM; the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutions and Assoc- iated Institutions, SSAUTHRIAI; the Nigeria Union of Pharmacists, Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine, NUPMTAM and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associ- ated Institutions, NASU, said they had gone to court to prove their case that the Health Minister had continued “to breed discontent, capable of leading to a breakdown of law and order” in the sector.
The unions petition to President Goodluck Jonathan is with Reference number JOHESU/ ADM/VOL.1/128/2013 and the Inspector General of Police, IGP, in another letter dated February 21, 2013 with Reference number JOHESU/ADM/VOL.1/0140/2013 titled: “Re: Request for your intervention against blackmail and tactics capable of fostering instability in the health sector,” demanded for Prof Chukwu’s resignation or his sack.
Speaking yesterday, Chairperson of JOHESU and President of MHWUN, Ayuba Wabba, said their call for the resignation of Chukwu as minister of health or his sack by President Jonathan was based on alleged abysmal poor performance and not for any political reason.
According to him: “For the avoidance of doubt, our demand for the resignation of Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu as minister of health, and for quality public health has no political undertone whatsoever. We have been justified by the performance apprisal of the minister carried out by several impartial bodies in the country. All of them scored the minister of health’s performance as being abysmally poor. He should take the honourable step of resigning as he has no clue whatsoever for salvaging the health system. Conversely, we call on Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to remove him as a minister before the health sector is avoidably destroyed.”
“On our schedule of engagement, we agreed that between now and May Day, we expect that Mr. President should act, therefore we have lined up series of activities. You know we are also celebrating our health week which would includes mass rally, where we will also canvass all these issues I have mentioned, to the Minister of Health and also to the gate of Mr. President on the fact that we should not allow the system to crumble and our expectation is that Mr. President will have to act before May this year so that peace can return to our health sector.
“Mr. President appointed him, so we want the President to remove him since he refused to resign having not performing. We are still insisting that Minister of Health, Professor Chukwu should honourable resign because our point of argument is that our struggle is not just about better working condition for our members but greatly is our resolve to campaign for quality health services in Nigeria and throughout this struggle, we have not derailed as purportedly viewed by some faceless persons who we have traced to the minister.”