Nurses at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) have demanded the immediate release of their abducted colleague, Mrs Rita Aiwerela, who was kidnapped on Sunday in the state’s capital.
The Chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in UBTH, Osigbeme Augustine, decried the upsurge in the rate of kidnap across Nigeria.
The Secretary NANNM in UBTH, Austin Owenaze, also said the family of the victim told them that the abductors were demanding a ransom of 10 million Naira.
He wondered how the family would get such amount of money and called for Mrs Aiwerela’s unconditional release.
The nurses made the demand on Tuesday during a peaceful demonstration at the UBTH premises in Benin City, southern Nigeria.
They expressed worries about the worsening insecurity in Nigeria, especially in Edo State.
They have called on the Edo State government and the security agencies to ensure the release of their colleague.
Discussions between national leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and management of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) to resolve the on-going industrial action by the health workers has hit the rocks.
The parties could not reach an agreement based on divergent views which has worsened the situation, as the strike could only be suspended by the national leadership of the unions following the breakdown in the negotiation.
Following the deadlock, the congress gathered once again for a briefing on the outcome, which has taken the power of negotiation away from the local chapter, as only the national leadership can call off or suspend the on-going industrial action.
The management of Jos University Teaching Hospital insists that issues remaining unresolved are national issues that need the attention of the Federal Ministry of Health, which the hospital management does not have powers to negotiate.
The Plateau State government through the state Ministry of Health has been mediating to see the end of the dispute with the interference of Governor Simon Lalong which has not yielded positive result.
Meanwhile, as the industrial dispute continues, patients are the most affected.
The Joint Health Sector Unions comprises of Non-Academic Staff Union, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, Medical and Health Workers Union as well as National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives.
Nurses working in Ogun State health centres have warned that they would embark on strike in the next three weeks if the state government fails to recruit more personnel for its hospitals.
They threatened to go on industrial action for allegedly being overworked.
The state Chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Mr. Abiodun Olakanmi, in Abeokuta on Monday said that a majority of the nurses had been hospitalised due to exhaustion.
Olakanmi accused the state government of being insensitive to the plight of the nurses by allegedly suspending the recruitment of additional health workers.
However, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, journalists that the matter was being addressed by the state government.
“The process is nearly concluded. Government is mindful of the urgent need to address this matter” he stated.
The Commissioner however noted that, “recruiting so many workers is a major exercise and must be concluded properly. We urge our nurses to remain patient,” he appealed.