By Chioma Obinna
Health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, has urged the Federal Government to ensure fairness in addressing the welfare demands of its members.
A letter made available to Vanguard dated September 10, 2021, addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, JOHESU alleged that the best welfare conditions were only enjoyed by physicians in the civil service.
The letter, entitled: ‘Re: Notice of 15-Day Ultimatum and Commencement of an Indefinite Strike Action by JOHESU: Matters Arising,’, and signed by JOHESU Chairman, Comrade Bio Josiah, partly reads: “The National Secretariat of JOHESU has been inundated with a recent memo of the NMA to the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment with regards to some welfare challenges of our members.
“As usual, the childish tirades of the NMA were laden with evil chicanery and antagonism in a scenario that epitomises unwholesome meddlesomeness of the idle, ignorant and very inexperienced crop of representatives who lead the NMA.
“After a careful analysis of the submissions of the NMA, we wish to submit that in a most sympathetic display of emotive theatricalisation, the NMA decided to stand the truth on the head by claiming that JOHESU attempted to seek pay parity at the NICN but failed in 2018. In reality however, the representatives of NMA failed because they are too consumed in vengeance to appreciate that JOHESU was simply minding her business albeit lawfully by requesting the FG to respect the spirit of its CBA with JOHESU in 2014 which compels the FG to adjust its wages anytime government adjusts the wages of the beneficiaries of the CONMESS scale. This was sequel to understandings at the heart of the rules of engagement the FG and JOHESU had in 2009 which the 2014 CBA simply amplified.
“The NMA often suggests that the golden rule in health care in Nigeria remains that anything it does not endorse does not exist. If the NMA suddenly says it is not aware of Residency Training which it has tried to frustrate in the FHIs exist, then JOHESU wishes to educate them that as far back as July, 2015, the FMOH issued a Residency training circular for Pharmacists undergoing post-graduate training at the West Africa Post-Graduate College of Pharmacists.
“We at JOHESU openly challenge the clueless NMA hierarchy to show the world evidence based data that we do not have Consultants in Pharmacy, Nursing, Radiography, Physiotherapy, Medical Laboratory Science and other callings from those climes where international best practices evolved from. For the umpteenth time we say this is the norm from the UK, USA, Australia, France and even Ghana.”
Continuing, they noted that current events and attitude of the NMA would be a test case to see what the Federal government was prepared to do as it tackles JOHESU demands.
“Many of our members believe that we were short changed in 2018 because the ministers-in-charge of health are kith and kin with the NMA dynasty as they share the same professional DNA. JOHESU leadership will give your Ministry another opportunity to clean this stinking Augean stable in public interest,” he added.
“The NICN in a landmark judgement of July 22, 2021 held “considering the nature and structure of the NICN, the rules and statutory provisions governing the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction particularly with regard to section 273(3) 1999 CFRN (as amended) and in view of the fact that a consent judgement had been duly entered in this case. I am satisfied that this court is functus officio and lacks the vires to entertain the application of the applicants or any of the applications before this court at this time. The applicant’s motion is hereby dismissed.
“Since it has been obvious that the mischievous people who lead the NMA rely on unreliable utopia in their methodologies to manipulate every system, they will need the counsel of their attorneys to teach them how the legal system works particularly the principle of functus officio. These NMA leaders who do not understand many things apart from probably core medical practice need tutelage in basic human relationship management, routine administration and the principle of legal systems so that their expert pontification as itinerant quacks can be terminated.
“Today as it stands, JOHESU and the FG are forced to go back to the negotiating table because of the rulings of the NICN.”
Further, he argued that the NMA was not the employer of JOHESU therefore urged the Minister to dismiss the tendencies of what ihe described as “despots and tyrants because of the nuisance value it constitutes.”
He decried the discrimination in favour of doctors in terms of emoluments.
“In the core civil service which was the object of reference of JOHESU, the physician has been elevated to king status because his entry point is GL 10 for housemanship and GL 13 after Youth Service. For any graduate outside the realm of a health professional to make GL 13 in the civil service, it will take at least 12 years after Youth Service, so we stand by our claims.
“Medical elders and patriots need to help the persons who style themselves as the brain-box of NMA that they are positioning this once upon a time famous and noble body to an emerging body of liars and charlatans who specialise in dabbling into other peoples business.”
According to JOHESU, there is also inequities in Residency Training for Health Professionals.
“As far back as July, 2015, the FMOH issued a Residency training circular for Pharmacists undergoing post-graduate training at the West Africa Post-Graduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP).”