By Nike Adebowale
The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) has called for the immediate removal of Isaac Adewole as Nigeria’s Minister of Health.
The union said his continued stay remains a major barrier to the resolution of the ongoing nationwide strike by health workers.
The minister has been at the forefront of the efforts to end the strike and has repeatedly said government is committed to resolving the issues. However, JOHESU, which consists of health workers aside doctors, believes he is biased in favour of doctors because he is a doctor.
Doctors, under the Nigerian Medical Association, have warned the Nigerian government not to heed the JOHESU demands. The NMA says it will commence its own strike if government agrees to the JOHESU demands.
JOHESU declared a strike on April 17 following the federal government’s alleged failure to implement an agreement it signed with the union.
The union’s demands include salary adjustment for its members, improved promotion requirement and payment of outstanding arrears of promotion.
Others are autonomy of teaching and specialist hospitals, non-execution of court judgments, and review of retirement age from 60-65 years as done for teachers in the tertiary education sector.
The National Chairman of the Union, Biobelemoye Josiah, who made the call for the minister’s removal during an emergency meeting held by members of the union in Abuja on Thursday, accused the minister of taking sides in the ongoing strike action.
He said ,”President Buhari should immediately remove Professor Isaac Adewole from office, as his continued stay remains a major barrier to the resolution of the on-going nationwide strike of health workers.
“This is a major threat to Public Health especially at a time that the dreaded Ebola disease is currently rampaging in some African countries.”
Mr Biobelemoye urged President Muhamamdu Buhari to set up a new negotiating team to take over from the current one led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to continue the negotiation process.
He said that as a medical doctor, the labour minister has also compromised.
JOHESU also warned that should the federal government go to court over the strike, it will pull out of the negotiation.
Meanwhile, health workers in Lagos, Kano, Yobe and Niger have been directed to relax the strike action to attend to emergency following the implementation of the agreement by the states.
The health workers had earlier accused Mr Adewole and Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, of bias against them because the two officials are medical doctors.