The Imo State government has urged striking health workers at the Federal Medical Centre Owerri to sheath their sword and return to work after a prolonged strike.
The Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha who was represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Women and Social Development Mrs Ngozi Njoku, where she gave the charge during a Stakeholders meeting held in Owerri the Imo state capital to deliberate on possible ways to end the prolonged issue between management of the FMC and Joint health sector union in the centre.
She noted that the government was worried over the continuous deprivation of quality and affordable health care to the people of the State due to persistent industrial actions in the facility.
At the meeting of stakeholders from Owerri which comprised of government functionaries, traditional rulers, members of the Nigerian Medical association, members of the Nigerian Union of Journalist, Labour unions, Nigerian Bar Association, civil society groups, clergy, security operatives as well as traders association have been drafted for a meeting to seek a way out of this lingering challenges at the FMC, Owerri.
The Commissioner for Health, Mrs Ngozi Njoku who represented the Imo state Governor said the workers should not entertain any fear of victimization as the management of the hospital had assured the government of its resolve.
She said ” This programme is aimed at finding out what we can do at FMC to help our people. This program’s objective is to consider the plight of our people and the disastrous effect.
Some of us have access abroad for medical treatment but some of us have their only hope in FMC to survive. As a good citizen of Nigeria, if there is something wrong in that institution you must feel concerned. You don’t play politics with the health of the people” Mrs Njoku said.
Speaking further “The MD FMC has assured me that she is not going to victimize anybody and she’s not going to blackmail anybody. If she does something contrary to her word of honour, then of course the government will then know that look at her quality”.
Since the recent protest carried out by the national leadership of the joint health sector union and health workers at the FMC Owerri calling on the Federal Government to reverse their action of recalling Dr Angela Uwakwem as the substantive medical director of the FMC Owerri, joint health workers sector union Johesu has since embarked on an indefinite strike.
Corroborating the State government’s stand in the issue, The Chairman Owerri Zonal Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Chidume Okoro lamented that efforts by Royal Fathers to mediate on the industrial disharmony met a brick wall as the Workers shunned their invitation.
Eze Okoro noted that the strike had led to the death of many residents of the state who could not source health care elsewhere.
He however appealed to the striking workers to return to work in the interest of the public whom they serve. He added that the F.G has done its path in ensuring that peace returns to the Centre and therefore the workers should not in any way flout the directives of the federal government.
He said ” The message of the traditional rulers in Imo state to the people of Imo state and the general public, that the world and the country in particular we are passing through challenging situations, strive, wars, hunger, poverty, the striking workers must find an alternative means resolving whatever grievances they have. And they must return to work so that millions of imolites that benefit from the specialist medical facilities and services at the FMC would continue to do so.”
A co- convener and member of a Civil Society organization Mr. Princewill Okorie described the incessant closure of the Federal Medical Centre Owerri by health workers as an infringement on the rights of the people to access health care.
While calling on all stakeholders in the state to join forces in ensuring peaceful resolution of the crisis, he said the Joint health sector union should revert to the constitution of Nigeria and act according to the laws.
“While unions in FMC Owerri demands their rights, they should respect right of the citizens of Imo state to enjoy the services of the center, denial of the people of Imo state the right to use or benefit from the center by the staff or union amounts to crime against the people of Imo state, abuse of power and disrespect for the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria”
“In the general provisions of the constitution, it states that the constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities or persons throughout the federal republic of Nigeria. The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed nor shall any persons or group of people take control of the government of Nigeria or any part there of, except in accordance of the provisions of this constitution” Comrade Okorie said.
In view of the ongoing impasse between the management and the health workers, the stakeholders recommended that the government should set up a stakeholders committee to monitor developments in the Centre so as to prevent further crisis in the Centre amongst other recommendations.
Hopefully, recommendations given by these stakeholders will be looked into by the authorities to find a lasting solution to the issues arising in the FMC Owerri.