By Hassan Zaggi
The President of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Josiah Biobelemoye, has disclosed that the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians including religious leaders paved the way for his group to suspend its earlier threat to embark on an indefinite strike.
The group has, however, given the federal government 7-days ultimatum to meet its demands.
Speaking at a protest organized by NLC/TUC to press forward the demands of the JOHESU at the premises of the Federal Ministry of Health, in Abuja, Biobelemoye, disclosed that among other reasons they decided to suspend the action is for the love of poor Nigerians considering that every strike action in the health sector affects them most.
“As we have said before, we were ready to commence strike, but because we are mindful of Nigerians. We know that every strike affects the common man negatively.
“We are still using this medium to call on well-meaning Nigerians to mount pressure on the Minister of Health to do the right thing.
“We cannot blame the president because he is being fed with the wrong information. This is because this same president who said he has no money to pay us has provided so much money to pay other sectors. So, to us, it the problem of the health minister and his management.”
He further disclosed that: “We were supposed to be here with our sleeping and cooking materials ready to occupy this place, we have calm down because our members are very democratic.
“When we went round, our members said they were ready for the strike but that before we start, we should commit the ministry to God.
“Last Friday, our members went for special jumaat prayers and then on Sunday, we were in Church, but coincidentally, the church the national JOHESU team went to make prayers was where the minister of health also worshipped.
“We met there and the overseer of the church appealed to him that it is in his power to resolve the matter and let Nigerians get better health and we too should give a little time.
“When it has come from the man of God that we should give some time, we are now giving the federal ministry of health the whole of this week.
“What the NLC/TUC is organizing is not within our hands, we only pleaded that it should be tuned down and today should be a warning rally, thereafter, if they don’t behave appropriately and if we have any reason for us to come back, then we will come back in full swing.
“We have given them seven days to act appropriately. At the end of the seven days, we will report back to the NLC that they have not acted appropriately, now you can do everything you want to do. And we will come back for the massive one.”
Earlier while addressing the workers, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Waba, decried the discrimination being meted to health workers in the country, noting that for peace to reign in the sector, there must be justice.
Waba who criticized the Minister of Health for implementing No work No Pay policy in the health sector said, “The law of No work No Pay is a military decree. It is decree 54 of 1977. No government in the history of Nigeria either military or civilian has implemented it. Why should it then be implemented if they didn’t implement collective bargaining agreement. He who goes to equity must go with clean hands.
“We will continue to fight. Let us be ready. Anytime you hear that we are reconvening here, you should come with your mattress and pillow. We are going to get people to cook here, we will sleep here.
“The minister has said that he doesn’t want peace in the health sector he cannot also have peace in his family, village and wherever he is. I want to assure you that we cannot be deterred.”