Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu
By Linda Eroke
Workers in the nation’s health sector have petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to relieve the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, of his appointment before May 1.
They decried the minister’s alleged abysmal poor performance in the sector and insisted that his continued stay as minister could cause unprecedented crisis in the sector.
The workers under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), said they had lined up series of industrial actions between now and May 1, to force President Jonathan to sack the minister should he fail to resign.
JOHESU is made up of five unions in the health sector including: Medical and Health Workers Unions of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutions and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nigeria Union of Pharmacists, Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine (NUPMTAM) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU).
The unions said they had gone to court to prove their case that the health minister had continue “to breed discontent, capable of leading to a breakdown of law and order” in the sector.
The chairperson of JOHESU and President of MHWUN, Ayuba Wabba, said their call for the sack of Chukwu was not for political reason but based on alleged abysmal poor performance of the sector.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, our demand for the resignation of Chukwu as minister of health, and for quality public health has no political undertone whatsoever. We have been justified by the performance appraisal of the minister carried out by several impartial bodies in the country. All of them scored the minister of health’s performance as being abysmally poor.”
He should take the honourable step of resigning as he has no clue whatsoever for salvaging the health system. Conversely, we call on Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to remove him as a minister before the health sector is avoidably destroyed.”
Speaking further, he said: “On our schedule of engagement, we agreed that between now and May Day, we expect that the President should act, therefore we have lined up series of activities. You know we are also celebrating our health week which would include mass rally, where we will also canvass all these issues I have mentioned, to the Minister of Health and also to the gate of the president on the fact that we should not allow the system to crumble and our expectation is that the president will have to act before May this year so that peace can return to our health sector.
“President Jonathan appointed him, so we want the president to remove him since he refused to resign having not performed. Our point of argument is that our struggle is not just about better working condition for our members but our resolve to campaign for quality health services in Nigeria,” he said.