By Ndidi Chukwu.
Top officials of the Federal Ministry of Health has denied accusations by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) that the Health Minister, Permanent Secretary and other top officials of the ministry have been boycotting meetings with the Union, who began its strike some months back.
The Supervising Minister of Health and Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, with his permanent Secretary, Mr. Linus Awute during a press briefing on Wed 17th Dec, the 1st since the President assent to the Health Bill on the 9th of December, denied accusation by the health Union, that the ministry has treated its affairs with “levity”
Awute, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Health told news men that “there is a lot of impunity that has come into the health workers strike and is affecting the system”
Awute insisted that the issues with JOHESU could be resolved, with due process, and both the workers and the Federal Government have to stick by the rules for issues to legally resolved, “there are rules and regulations that have to come in, the rule of engagement of a worker, the rights and they have to know who can be on strike and who should not”
Issues remain unresolved as it is becoming clear that the Ministry may have been pushed to the wall to have signed the 2009 agreement with JOHESU on which grounds the workers are fighting based on ruling it gained from National Industrial Court then.
The Minister, Dr Khaliru Alhassan said the meeting with the workers was not missed without any justifiable reason.
“Neither the permanent Secretary nor I missed the meeting without any justifiable reason, they don’t want us to follow due process any more, strike cannot be resolved without negotiation and some of the issues they have tabled to us are the things we have been discussing with them, staying of out of work will not solve these problems.”
JOHESU has also sighted an example to its plights with the way the Federal Government treated and immediately resolved issues with Medical Doctors when they had their own strike.
The question now in the lips of Nigerian health workers is, “why do we have to be treated differently?”