By Our Reporters
LAGOS—NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, Monday, blamed the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, for the industrial unrest that have crippled federal medical institutions, urging President Goodluck Jonathan to call him to order before doing incalculable harm to the health sector.
This came as health care services worsened in the hospitals with Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, imploring the striking workers and the Federal Government to embrace dialogue to resolve their differences.
NLC in a statement by its President, Abdulwaheed Omar, berated the Minister for allegedly not only dishonouring a ruling by National Industrial Court, NIC, but repudiating an earlier agreement with the unions that both parties would be bound by the outcome of the court ruling.
The statement reads in part: “Congress is dismayed that the Minister did not only violate, dishonour and abandon a ruling by a competent court as the NIC, but repudiated an earlier agreement with the unions that both parties will be bound by the outcome of the court ruling, and was at the forefront of taking the case to court through the Minister of Labour. One of the hallmarks of any democracy is respect for the rule of law. Violation of this time-honoured value constitutes not only a breach of trust, but an invitation to anarchy.
“It is all the more worrying when this violation is done by a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who ought not only to hold out himself as the Chief Physician of the country, but a key ambassador of the Jonathan administration. We will recall that the dispute between the Joint Health Workers Union, JOHESU, became an issue for litigation in the first place because of observance in the breach of agreements reached between the minister and the unions.
“The minister is advised to stop playing politics with the health of Nigerian people, especially poor working people that do not have the wherewithal or access to slush funds to patronise private hospitals and go for routine foreign check-ups. Rather than embark on a campaign of calumny against the unions and a laborious appeal process with dire health and industrial consequences to the country, Congress advises the minister to immediately toe the path of honour by recognising the court judgment and implementing the demands of the unions.
Meanwhile, while the striking workers have vowed to continue their strike until their demands are met, NMA urged both parties to embrace constructive dialogue to resolve their differences.
The pitiable sight of few patients at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, when Vanguard visited at about 10:00am left much to be desired.
The situation was not different in all the Federal Government owned health facilities in Lagos.