Workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Union/Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (JOHESU/AHPA) have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari on alleged discriminatory appointments at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH). They also passed a vote of no confidence on the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. The health workers in an open letter to President Buhari dated December 7, 2017 and jointly signed by National Chairman, JOHESU, Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, and the National Secretary, JOHESU, Ekpebor Florence, noted: “The JOHESU/AHPA has endured to the limits the oppressive propensities of the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. We hereby convey our vote of no confidence in his leadership through this memo.
“We demand that Your Excellency must restructure appointments at the FMoH to balance the interest of all the cadres of health professionals, fundamentally because the Public Health Institutions, If functional, remains the easiest points to access healthcare by the poorly remunerated working class and the recession stricken/unemployed masses of Nigeria and must therefore continue to cater for the multi-disciplinarily inclined interest of the respective stakeholders.” The health workers alleged that government appears to have wittingly compounded the situation by conceding privileges to one profession in a multi-disciplinary sector, while refusing to implement agreements and valid court orders in favour of other health professions. JOHESU “observed, rather tragically, that the two Ministers in charge of the Federal Ministry of Health were picked from only one profession.” They added: “This was a repeat of the precedence set by the Jonathan Administration, which boomeranged with unprecedented strikes and disharmony in the health sector because of the dubiety in handling labour matters except that the current scenario was compounded with the addition of another Medical Doctor as Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health. An added twist to an already bad situation was the appointment of Dr. Chris Ngige a renowned Medical Practitioner, as Hon. Minister in charge of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, which normally should arbitrate all trade disputes, including those from the health sector. “In an earlier communication with the Presidency we had catalogued the dangers ahead with regards to pending welfare issues for health workers when the heads of the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity were doctors. “In 2015 when the trio of Prof. Isaac Adewole, Dr. Enahire and Dr. (Mrs.) Amina Shamaki, were appointed to lead the Federal Ministry of Health, in addition to the appointment of Dr. Chris Ngige, as Minister in charge of Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment; we sounded it loud and clear that danger loomed with regards to fulfilling the professional destiny of all health workers, apart from doctors, because of the peculiarly skewed nature of the appointments. “As it stands today, we have been vindicated by the deliberate methodologies of motion without movement in the approach of the Federal Ministry of Health and its Labour & Employment counterpart in the quest to advance and entrench our various welfare initiatives grounded in collective bargaining agreements, court judgments, existing circulars and negotiated demand list.” JOHESU said the body language of both the FMoH and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FMoL&E) has always revealed their unwillingness to realistically solve the problems inherent in giving us a sense of fairness and justice in the scheme of things. This, they said, led to the seven-day warning strike in June 2016, after postponement of ultimatum 11 times amounting to 92 days According to the letter, every effort to ameliorate the unpalatable welfare situation of our members at the three meetings we had with the FMoH/FMoL&E teams on June 20th, 21st and 30th of June 2016 suggested the Federal Government was bent on frustrating JOHESU/AHPA. The Federal Government team requested for copies of agreements, court judgments, Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) as well as the justification, which we supplied very well ahead of time. “The FMoL&E on this basis fixed our next meeting for July 28, 2016. It was therefore a major embarrassment that we were confronted on July 27 at about 4:00 pm when our members had arrived for the July 28 meeting advertised for 10:am that the meeting was postponed indefinitely because the FMoH was not ready.”